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Multibeam Bathymetry

NCEI is the US national archive for multibeam bathymetric data and presently holds over 9 million nautical miles of ship trackline data recorded from over 2400 cruises and received from sources worldwide. In addition to deepwater data, the multibeam database also includes hydrographic multibeam survey data from NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS).

Locating and Downloading Data:

Multibeam bathymetric data at NCEI can be discovered through our interactive Bathymetry Map Viewer. Data selections are downloadable for free. The online AutoGrid custom mapping feature is also available. See the "Interactive Map Interface" link at left.

An alternative search of the multibeam data that provides search options such as ship name, survey name, survey dates, and instrument is also available. Please send us your about our multibeam search systems.

Associated NOS data products, including 3D images and grids, are available via the NOS Hydrographic Survey Data Map Service.

The interactive map for these data displays the geographic locations of multibeam bathymetric data by institutional source or by instrument. Data NOT at NCEI but in the trackline inventory can be viewed by searching the inventory for multibeam bathymetric data not at NCEI.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Why can't ESRI read the data I downloaded?
    You probably downloaded the raw multibeam files. These can't be read by ESRI. You can go to (autochart) which will allow you to create a NetCDF binary grid of the data in your area of interest which ESRI can read.

  2. What other programs can I use to read raw multibeam data?
    Some of the products known to read raw multibeam data are: MB-System, CARIS, and Fledermaus. This list is provided for information only, NCEI does not recommend or endorse external products.

Contributing Data:

NCEI accepts new multibeam bathymetric data that will be provided through this map. We prefer data in a format supported by the MB-System software package developed at LDEO used to process and display multibeam bathymetric data.

When submitting data, you will be asked to enter metadata for each survey. The data should be organized by survey, tarred, and compressed for upload. Please search the interactive map first to be sure that the surveys you wish to submit are not already in the MBBDB. There is a 2 gigabyte limit to the size you can send, so please have your compressed data files in 2 gigabyte sizes or smaller.

sample Fliedermaus 3D image of NOS shallow water bathymetry
Grids and images of NOS data are available via the NOS Map Service, processed multibeam data are available via the Multibeam Map Service.

Related data at NCEI:

Trackline Bathymetry