Cordell Expeditions is a tax-exempt, nonprofit research association operating under the laws of the State of California (Org. Number 9786509) and the U. S. Department of Internal Revenue (Section 501(c)(3), Employer ID number 94-2692114).

Founded in 1977, the group has carried out a series of research expeditions every year since 1978. The work involves exploring and describing remote sites, principally offshore submerged marine sites that support extensive biological communities. The motivation for the work is to carry out field work to generate primary information about the sites, so that they can be protected and rationally managed.

The first project of Cordell Expeditions was to explore and describe Cordell Bank, a shallow rocky feature about 50 nautical miles NW of San Francisco, California. As a result of this 10-year project, the U. S. Department of Commerce designated it as the Cordell Bank National Sanctuary. It is now protected by an Act of Congress.

Other expeditions by the group have been to the Farallon Islands, Noonday Rock, and Fanny Shoal; Schmieder Bank (near Pt. Sur, California); Rocas Alijos and Guadalupe Island (Baja California); Peter I Island (Antarctica); Easter Island/Salas y Gómez (Pacific); Heard Island (Antarctica); San Felix Island (Chile); Kure Atoll (NW Hawaiian Islands); and Clipperton Island (Pacific)

Books that resulted from the these expeditions (all by R. W. Schmieder) include:

  • Ecology of an Underwater Island
  • Edward Cordell and the Discovery of Cordell Bank
  • Rocas Alijos
  • 3YØPI Peter I Island: The 1994 DXpedition
  • DX-Aku: Messages from the Easter Island Expedition
  • VKØIR: The 1997 Heard Island Expedition
  • XRØX: The 2002 San Felix Island Expedition
  • DXA: The Real-time Online Radio Log Server

The work has resulted in the discovery of more than 20 new species, significant uncharted topographic features, and many first observations of environmental conditions. A large collection of specimens, and photographic archive, and a large number of popular articles are additional results of the expeditions.

Cordell Expeditions is also involved with ongoing research programs associated with educational institutions, including Diablo Valley College, the California Academy of Sciences, St. Marys College, and the Shorebird Nature Center in Berkeley. Additionally, the expeditions have embraced radio science, with extensive involvement in amateur radio used on expeditions, particularly to remote sites such as oceanic islands.