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UK Hydrographic survey information released

UK, 25 May 2007: The Hydrography Unit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Navigation Safety branch have released a section of files for download to the general public which provide information regarding some of the MCA’s bathymetric multibeam surveys.

Rob Spillard, Hydrography Manager, says,”All seabed data that the MCA gathers is used to keep UK nautical charts and publications up-to-date to support safety of navigation in UK waters. However, our data can be used for many other purposes and we are hoping that, by publishing the data on our web site in a special layer, viewable in Google Earth, we will encourage other government and non-government organisations to share seabed data with us, thereby saving costs for everybody.”

The hydrographic data in Google Earth show information about the areas the MCA has surveyed in recent years. Each file includes an image of the surveyed seabed. These files can also be viewed at MCA’s website at .

Digital multibeam bathymetric sounding is the marine mapping tool used by the MCA to acquire bathymetric data. Multibeam bathymetric survey provides means for determining the morphology and nature of the sediments on the seafloor. It uses a technology in which a multi-element transducer provides many individual soundings of the water depth and echo strength for each ping. After that automatic seafloor tracking programs determine depths and echo strengths for each transducer element, correct for transducer motion, and calculate a geographic co-ordinate for each individual sounding. These data produced by multibeam survey are used to generate high-resolution images which contain information about the morphology of the seabed.