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IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB)

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB) was established in 1990 to steward the global collection of bathymetric data. The Centre archives and shares, freely and without restrictions, depth data contributed by mariners and other stakeholders consistent with IHO direction and guidance. The IHO DCDB is hosted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on behalf of the IHO Member States.

The DCDB archive includes over 70 terabytes (uncompressed) of oceanic depth soundings acquired with multibeam and single beam sonars by hydrographic, oceanographic and industry vessels during surveys or while on passage.

25% of the deep ocean floor has been mapped with direct measurement and approximately 50% of the world’s coastal waters remain unsurveyed. (Source: GEBCO)

Data Access

The IHO DCDB Data Viewer shows the global coverage of the DCDB's bathymetric data holdings as well as the spatial extent of data archived at other repositories via web services.

Access Data

Project Overview

The IHO DCDB consists primarily of unedited single and multibeam bathymetric data contributed by industry, government, academia, and crowdsource efforts. These data are a public resource that are routinely used to produce and improve regional and global bathymetric maps and grids in support of science and exploration.

Ship tracks and data over the Pacific Ocean in the IHO DCDB data viewer.

The DCDB also serves as the long-term archive for the GEBCO Ocean Mapping Programme, IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry (CSB) Initiative, and the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which is a global initiative working to develop a complete global ocean map by 2030.

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May 16, 2023

IHO and NOAA Reaffirm their Commitment to Ocean Data with a New MoU

During the 2023 International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Assembly, Secretary General Dr. Mathias Jonas announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Bathymetric Data

The DCDB archive includes over 70 terabytes (uncompressed) of oceanic depth soundings acquired with multibeam and single beam sonars by hydrographic, oceanographic and industry vessels during surveys or while on passage.

How to Contribute Data to the IHO DCDB

Contact for more information on contributing data or sharing web services to the IHO DCDB. The DCDB accepts submissions from government, academic, industrial, and research organizations, as well as individual researchers.

Data Submission and Packaging Instructions

Bathymetric data and metadata can be submitted via File Transfer Protocol (FTP), email, or mail (hard drive) in the formats listed below.

  • Raw sonar data: native sensor format
  • Processed data: gsf, BAG, NetCDF, tiff, xyz, sd, asc, etc.
  • Metadata: XML or text

Other formats and products will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

CruisePack Software

CruisePack is a data packaging and metadata gathering software tool that simplifies the collection and submission process for cruise-based data.

CruisePack Download Instructions

IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry Initiative

The IHO defines crowdsourced bathymetry (CSB) as depth measurements collected and contributed by vessels, using standard navigation instruments, while engaged in routine maritime operations. 

In 2014, the IHO recognized that traditional survey vessels alone could not be relied upon to solve data deficiency issues and agreed there was a need to encourage and support all mariners in an effort to “map the gaps.” An initiative was established to support and enable mariners and professionally manned vessels to collect CSB. This approach leverages underway x, y, z, t data already being collected on vessels with common commercial echo sounders and Global Navigation Satellite System receivers. CSB can be used to supplement the more rigorous and scientific bathymetric coverage done by hydrographic offices, industry, and researchers around the world.

The DCDB accepts CSB contributions through a network of "Trusted Nodes," which may be organizations, companies or universities serving as data liaisons between mariners (data collectors) and the DCDB. Trusted Nodes may supply data logging equipment, provide technical support to vessels, download data from data loggers, or be responsible for data transfer directly to the DCDB.

CSB data must be provided in either CSV or GeoJSON, and capture the minimum required information (XYZ, timestamp). The IHO DCDB intends to publicly release the Trusted Node’s data in its original form under the CC0 public domain dedication via the IHO DCDB Viewer.

The following documents clarify some aspects on CSB related to the submission of data to IHO DCDB:

Those interested in contributing data or becoming a Trusted Node should contact the DCDB at

The collection of crowdsourced bathymetry information contributions is authorized under the OMB Control Number included in the Paperwork Reduction Act and Privacy Act statements.

Interactive Map/Data Viewers

Download CSV or GeoJSON files, including full metadata as contributed, via the IHO DCDB Viewer or NOAA’s Bathymetric Data Viewer. The package is delivered as a gzipped tar file with the contents nested in directories several levels deep.


Download soundings using the CSB Data Extract API. This API can be called directly or by using the DCDB map viewer for a more human-friendly experience. The soundings can also be requested as a gridded product with a specified resolution.

Cloud Access

Download CSV-format files directly from the AWS S3 bucket hosted by the NOAA Open Data Dissemination Program. Users can review the registry of open data, browse data in the bucket and download individual files, or use AWS-provided and third-party tools and SDKs for programmatic access.

Note: CSV files downloaded from the S3 bucket only contain UniqueID, File_UUID, lon, lat, depth, time, platform name, provider attributes and that full metadata is not provided.

Additional information can be found in the Crowdsourced Bathymetry Frequently Asked Questions.

IHO Guidance on Crowdsourced Bathymetry

The IHO's Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group, comprised of international scientific, governmental and commercial hydrographic experts, was tasked by the IHO to develop  a document that describes what constitutes CSB, the installation and use of data loggers, preferred data formats, and instructions for submitting data to the IHO DCDB.

The guidance document also provides information about data quality to help data collectors and data users better understand uncertainty and accuracy issues with crowdsourced bathymetry.

B-12 Edition 3.0 IHO Guidance Document on Crowdsourced Bathymetry