On behalf of Australia, and in support of the Malaysian accident investigation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) led search operations for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Geoscience Australia provided advice, expertise and support to the ATSB to facilitate marine surveys, which were undertaken to provide a detailed map of the sea floor topography to aid navigation during the underwater search.
Prior to the Phase 1 bathymetric survey, very little was known about the sea floor in the MH370 search area, as few marine surveys have taken place in the area. Existing maps of the sea floor were coarse, having been derived from satellites and only providing a general indication of water depth. Before the underwater search for MH370 could begin, it was necessary to accurately map the sea floor to ensure that the search was undertaken safely and effectively. Survey vessels spent months at sea, scanning the sea floor with multibeam sonar and side scan sonar to gather detailed, high-resolution data.
What this product offers
This collation of datasets on the National Computational Infrastructure contains the high resolution raw and processed data acquired during Phase 2 of the search for MH370 as received by third party operators. The Phase 2 underwater search data was acquired by multiple vessels, including the Fugro Equator, Fugro Supporter, Fugro Discovery, Havila Harmony, Dong Hai Jiu 101 and Go Phoenix. Surveys were conducted using towed and autonomous underwater vehicles between September 2014 to January 2017, collecting over 121,000 square kilometres of high resolution data in the search area.
The data collected during Phase 2 of the operational search for MH370 was used for the purposes of locating an aircraft debris field on the sea floor.
The data collected in the search for MH370 during Phase 1 and 2 will contribute to a better understanding of the formation of the southern Indian Ocean. This data could provide new insights for scientists in particular related to:
- continental margin geology
- plate tectonic history
- seabed processes
- identifying unusual sea floor features
- the direction of future survey expeditions to investigate these features
Bathymetry data can also be used as a baseline product in the creation of hydrodynamic models to understand ocean currents, oceanographic connectivity (biological or physical) between different areas of the ocean, and short and long term trends in environmental variables, such as climate. Biological and physical connectivity (dispersal rates) can be affected by geographic barriers (land mass, spatial scale, varying seascapes and drastic environmental gradients).
The depth of the ocean is a major factor in defining the habitat for flora and fauna. Pressure, light and temperature are all reliant on the depth of the ocean, and these conditions affect the suitability of the habitat for individual organisms. Understanding the bathymetry of the sea floor may help scientists identify areas where there may be unique flora and fauna.
|Link to data||
THREDDS (Phase 1)
THREDDS (Phase 2)
|Link to maps||AusSeabed Marine Data Portal|
|CMI RESTful node ID||222|
|NCI project code||iy57|
|NCI product name||MH370 Phase 2|
Not to be used for navigation purposes.
The folder structure of the datasets by data type as below, with sub-folders separated by vessel or type, then raw or processed.
The folder structure of the datasets by data type: 'camera', 'documents', 'final_processed', 'gis', 'heave', 'mbes', 'nav', 'platform_raw', 'sbp', 'sidescan', 'sniffer', 'svp', 'tides', 'water_column', 'weather', with sub-folders separated by vessel or type, then raw or processed.
- 'camera' - This folder contains imagery and video in the following formats: .avi, .mp4, .smb, .jpg, .tfi, .tif, .gdb. These are records of video and imagery data from specific contact investigations during the search. The data were acquired by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).
- 'documents' – This folder contains all contact investigation reports acquired during the search in .pdf format as well as metadata records detailing datasets as received by third party organisations.
- 'final processed' – This folder contains all phase 2 processed final version side scan sonar, synthetic aperture sonar, bathymetry, backscatter and hillshade datasets as supplied by third party organisations. These files are split by data type, with sub-folders separated by organisation/vessel and then file format.
- 'gis' - This folder contains derived geospatial datasets including contact locations, coverages, data holiday database and generalised tracklines of deep tow and autonomous underwater vehicles.
- 'heave' - This folder contains raw heave records for some vesssels in .csv, .mcom, and .srh formats. These are records of the vertical ship motion.
- 'mbes' - This folder contains raw and processed bathymetry, backscatter, combined and hillshade files for the hull-mounted and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle mounted multibeam echo sounders (mbes), in the formats: png, gdb, tif, laz, txt, xyi, xyz, gsf, xtf, all, bil. This folder also contains processed multibeam echo sounder .csar and caris files. These are viewable on the free software CARIS Easyview, available from the CARIS website: www.caris.com under Free Downloads, or on the full version of CARIS HIPS and SIPS. Additionally, the folder also contains raw EdgeTech native file format (.jsf) for Fugro Equator.
- 'nav' - This folder contains raw and processed navigation files for vessels, deep tow, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), remotely operated vehicles (ROV), position and Ultra Short Base Line (USBL) data acquired (kml, kmz, .shp, .txt, .xix, .dxf, .pos)
- 'platform_raw' - This folder contains .raw files from Fugro Equator. Specialised programs are required to read raw multibeam data and are listed here, however, this list is not exhaustive: Caris, MB-System and Fledermaus.
- 'sbp' – This folder contains sub-bottom profiler, .seg and .sgy files derived from Kongsberg-specific system Simrad SBP 300 suite frequency ranging from 2.5 to 6.5 kHz. This data, when acquired, was acquired simultaneously with the multibeam datasets and can be used to inform shallow geological characteristics below the seafloor.
- 'sidescan' – This folder contains processed and raw side scan sonar and synthetic aperture sonar data captured via deep tow and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) systems. Data varies in format by vessel and supplier, with formats including png, tif, img, xtf, gdb, jsf.
- 'sniffer' – This folder contains sniffer data acquired by various vessels throughout the search. The HydroC™ Subsea Fluorometer sensors recorded the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations by measuring fluorescence emissions in the water, potentially indicating the presence of aircraft grade petroleum hydrocarbons.
- 'svp' – This folder contains ascii files of sound velocity profiles acquired using a Kongsberg system (.asvp) that measure the speed of sound through the water column, and are used to correct bathymetry measurements.
- 'tides' – This folder contains tidal correction data supplied by Fugro, utilising the Starpack platform.
- 'water_column' – This folder contains .wcd files acquired using Kongsberg EM302 (30 kHz) that describe the acoustic return of a target or targets within the water column. This data was acquired intermittantly during the survey. This file is used commonly by CARIS Hips and SIPS, Fledermaus and Echoview.
- 'weather' – This folder includes various weather related data acquired during the survey, including weather observations, windspeed, barometer, pitch, roll, heave, temperature and miscellaneous video observations.
The data is supplied in a number of coordinate systems and projections, including: WGS84 (decimal degrees), UTM-84 Zone 45S, UTM-84 Zone 46S. In most cases, file names will be labelled with the corresponding projection; if not, it can be assumed to be WGS84.
Accuracy and limitations
Data has not been processed or altered by Geoscience Australia; it is released as supplied by third party organisations.
Data is released as supplied to Geoscience Australia by third party organisations.
The final_processed folder as supplied underwent considerable quality assurance processes, conducted during the operational search by both third party organisations and the Australian government.
This is the collation of datasets on the National Computational Infrastructure, containing the raw and processed data acquired during Phase 2 of the search for MH370 as received by third party operators. No additional processing or edits have been made to the data by Geoscience Australia, except for folder restructuring. Additional dataset level metadata can be found in the 'documents' folder on NCI.
Schema / spatial extent
|Coordinate reference system||WGS 84 (EPSG: 4326)|
|Cell size X||5.00|
|Cell size Y||5.00|
OwnerCommonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia)
LicenseCC BY Attribution 4.0 International License
© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2018. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Geoscience Australia wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the Government of Malaysia, the People's Republic of China, the Australian Government, Fugro Survey Pty Ltd, SL Hydrospheric LLC, Sherrell Ocean Services, GK Consulting and the crews of the Go Phoenix, Dong Hai Jiu 101, Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator, Fugro Supporter and the Havila Harmony.
All material and data from this access point is subject to copyright. Please note the creative commons copyright notice and relating to the re-use of this material.
Geoscience Australia's preference is that you attribute the datasets (and any material sourced from it) using the following wording: Source: Governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China, 2018. MH370 Phase 2 data - Raw and processed.
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We honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones.