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Uses of Hydrographic Survey Data

Data requests are received from various academic, governmental and commercial organizations. The majority of requests are used to populate a data layer within their GIS (Geographic Information System). Data applications are wide spread, examples of previous (National Ocean Service) hydrographic survey data requests are as follows:


  • migration and habitat studies of fish and marine mammals
  • delineation of bottom features for commercial fishermen
  • earthquake and fault studies
  • sediment and pollutant studies
  • studies of storm surge and tsunami effects
  • oil, gas and mineral exploration
  • coastal planning and ecosystem evaluations
  • color imaging and animation (fly-by)


  • NOS survey data were provided to produce electronic charting technology for the fishing industry (not navigational use). Real time ocean bottom graphics are displayed via a computer screen during vessel transits. Development of this technology would not be possible without the NOS data.

  • NOS survey data were used to generate 3-D images of the bathymetry in Boston Harbor/Massachusetts Bay to show potential site locations for gathering ocean bottom samples.

  • NOS survey data were supplied for the purpose of finding potential oil deposits.

  • NOS hydrographic survey data were supplied for the Skagway Harbor area in Alaska. Data will be used to produce a plot of the Skagway Harbor before a landslide occurred in 1994, showing a historical "before" picture of the event.

  • NOS data were provided to populate a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the San Francisco Bay area. The NOS data will serve a critical function as part of their database system. Without the bathymetry data there would be a significant gap in coverage.

  • NOS data are used in producing high resolution color relief image for coastal areas, along with other data sources. Click on the image below to see a more detailed image, or go to the NGDC coastal DEM pages.

  • NOS survey data were contoured for Lake Michigan and Western Lake Erie. Contours were digitally scanned and images created for both of these lakes.