Exploring Ocean Tectonics from Space

Data on slight variations of the pull of gravity over the oceans are recorded with satellite altimetry, and are then combined to map the seafloor globally.



KML Files for Visualization in Google Earth

Download Google Earth software for viewing KML overlays on a globe.

Gridded Data for Research Use

These grid files may be read using GMT software. Here is an example on how to plot these grids.

Free-Air Marine Gravity Anomaly
Vertical Gravity Gradient
Gravity Error

These are links to files hosted via FTP. Users may also access the entire public download directory.

 

GPlates Web Visualization

These cloud-based tools are provided courtesy of Dietmar Müller on the GPlates Web Portal and require a WebGL-enabled browser. For more information on these visualizations, please visit the EarthByte page.

 

Navigating the Visualization


Global Map of Marine Gravity

Global Map View of Marine Gravity Anomaly

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Take a Tour of the Seafloor:

North Atlantic (gravity anomaly)

North Atlantic (gravity anomaly)

North Atlantic (vertical gravity gradient)

North Atlantic (vertical gravity gradient)

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Central Indian Ocean (gravity anomaly)

Central Indian Ocean (gravity anomaly)

Central Indian Ocean (vertical gravity gradient)

Central Indian Ocean (vertical gravity gradient)

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Indian Ocean Triple Junction (vertical gravity gradient)

Indian Ocean Triple Junction (vertical gravity gradient)

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Southwest Indian Ridge (vertical gravity gradient)

Southwest Indian Ridge (vertical gravity gradient)

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Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (vertical gravity gradient)

Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (vertical gravity gradient)

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Marine Gravity from Space Enables Discovery aboard Ships

Seamount Discovery in Indian Ocean

The high-resolution multibeam sonar bathymetry data show that the newly charted seamount is not very prominent and rises just over 600 m from its base. However, it is wide enough to be detected in the gravity signal.

The MIST Expedition (cruise id: RR1319) was led by graduate students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography joined by participants from the Earth Observatory of Singapore. It was made possible by the University of California Ship Funds program.

The figure above was generated using a combination of GMT, Matplotlib, and a color palette courtesy of Matteo Niccoli.

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Learn More:

Basics of Satellite Radar Altimetry
Satellite Radar Altimetry Missions
Related Scientific Publications

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Author Information

 

David T. Sandwell

Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA
Satellite Geodesy group

R. Dietmar Müller

School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
EarthByte group
GPlates Web Portal

Walter H. F. Smith

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, College Park, MD, 20740, USA

Emmanuel S. Garcia

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA

Richard Francis

European Space Agency (ESA): European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Keplerlaan 1, 2201AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
CryoSat-2 mission

Acknowledgments

The satellite altimetry data from CryoSat-2 is being provided by ESA, while data from the Jason-1 mission was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES). We also incorporated data from the following missions: Envisat (ESA), ERS-1/2 (ESA), and Geosat (US Navy).

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and ConocoPhillips.

Give us Feedback

For issues related to this page (broken links and such), you may reach Soli Garcia by e-mail (esg006@ucsd.edu) or Twitter (@heyearth).

For technical issues related to the marine gravity grids, contact David Sandwell (dsandwell@ucsd.edu).

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Publicity

Media Contact

SIO Communications Office: Mario Aguilera, Phone: +1-858-534-3624, Email: scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

Press Releases

These are the official publicity materials from the authors' institutions:

Online Media Coverage

View a compilation of articles discussing our paper on Storify.

Here are some selected stories:

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Last updated: March 30, 2015, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Univ. of California, San Diego.