Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Mapping Program
MBARI Northern California & Oregon Margin Multibeam Survey

In Spring  of 1998 the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) completed surveys of the Northern California and Oregon Margin. Bathymetry and backscatter data were collected using the Simrad EM300 multibeam system on a contracted vessel, the M/V Ocean Alert. We contracted with C&C Technologies to run the system because they had installed the EM300 system. The hull-mounted 30 kHz EM300 system allowed us to collect georeferenced high-resolution bathymetric and sidescan data at high speeds, in water ranging from shelf to abyssal depths.

The data from the survey are presented on these web pages.


Northern California and Oregon Margins Survey Areas

Data and related products

Choose from the following survey area list or click on the map area to view images and  survey details.

Bathymetry data:

The most convenient way to access the data from this data set is to select the area of interest on this web page and download the data to your local hard drive.

The imagery data consists of two files, one containing the image (*.tif) and the other containing the spatial registration information (*.tfw). In some cases both files are required for the images to be properly geo-located. However, the imagery data included on in this data set are stored in the GeoTIFF format which includes the projection and coordinate information stored in the heading tags of the image. Therefore many software packages including ArcView and ArcInfo can use the images independent of the tfw files.

Because of space limitations grids are stored in gziped compressed ASCII format.

The shape files (located in the features directory) contain navigation from the cruise, the grid bounds and the Hawaiian islands coast. The shapefiles should be copied as a group with all files having the same prefix moved to the same location.


  • docs—Ancillary information about the data sets such as geographic bounds, grid size, pixels, etc.
  • features—ArcView®shapefiles of survey lines, Northern California and Oregon coastlines and grid bounds.
  • geoTIFFS
    • backscatter—Acoustic reflectivity images from the surveys in GeoTIFF format (bright implies high amplitude return).
    • sunshade—Color-shaded relief images of the bathymetry grids in GeoTIFF format.
  • grids—(Compressed) ASCII raster format grids of Northern California and Oregon Margin bathymetry in geographic coordinates.
  • metadata—FGDC-STD-001-1998 standard metadata for the bathymetry data.

NOTE: For ease of downloading the data, within each data directory is a .zip file that includes all the files within that directory.

Final processing of the data was done using the software package MB-System. The swath data have been deposited at the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) and are available there for free download. This data set was compiled by the MBARI Mapping Team, which, at the time of publication, included Nancy Barr, David Caress, David Clague, Judy Donaldson, Jennifer Paduan, and Brian Schlining. The data were collected by Gerry Hatcher, Norman Maher, and David Clague from MBARI, Jennifer Reynolds from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and the mapping crew from C&C Technologies. The Heceta Bank data were collected by Robert Embley and Susan B. Merle from NOAA, with assistance from Jennifer Reynolds, as part of a fisheries study. The EM300 Heceta Bank Survey was funded by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (National Marine Fisheries Service) and the Oregon Sea Grant Program.

MBARI provides these data "as is", with no warranty, express or implied, of the data quality or consistency. Data are provided without support and without obligation on the part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to assist in its use, correction, modification, or enhancement.


For more information, email

Last updated: Oct. 08, 2013