Bathymetry of the Gulf of Mexico

Texas Sea Grant has supported the development of several bathymetric maps of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico that integrate diverse historic bathymetric data collected between 1930 and 2003 by the NOAA/ U. S. Coast Survey. These data include NOAA Coast Survey multi-beam bathymetric data collected over large areas of the Outer Continental Shelf in 1988-1993. More recently (since 1998), multibeam bathymetric data have been collected over features of limited areal extent in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Schmidt Oceanographic Institute, and the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire. Led by Dr. Troy Holcombe of the Texas A&M University Department of Oceanography, the bathymetric maps show the shelf and slope of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, Gulf coastal/shelf bathymetry combined seamlessly with land topography in the region ("bathytopo"), and multiple offshore/shelf banks.

Even though most of the earlier NOAA data were collected for purposes of navigation safety and nautical charting, deriving bathymetry from all these depth measurements yields other valuable results. Bathymetric maps have many applications, including ocean engineering and construction, the management of habitat of fish and other marine organisms, ocean research and exploration, and prediction models of storm surge and sea level rise, among others.

The links below go to large bathymetric maps of the Gulf of Mexico, while the menu of links at left lead to collections of smaller maps of individual features. Data sources are indicated in the description of each map below.

Bathymetry of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

This 36"x48" map covers the entire northwestern Gulf of Mexico, stretching across the Continental Shelf, Continental Slope, Mississippi Deep-sea Fan, and Ocean Basin. The contour interval is 2 meters on the Continental Shelf, 10 meters across the Shelf-Slope Break, and 40 meters across the Continental Slope and Ocean Basin. Sources are the entire array of NOAA hydrographic surveys and multibeam surveys, recent multibeam surveys of banks and other features of limited areal extent, and additional trackline data from random sources. Most of the underlying data are available from the NOAA Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). (T. L. Holcombe, W. J. Renteria, and W. R. Bryant)

Bathymetry and Land Topography of the Texas-Louisiana Coastal Region and Continental Shelf, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

This 37" x 75" map integrates the bathymetry of the Continental Shelf of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, seamlessly with topographical maps of the coast, from Brownsville at the southern tip of Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River in eastern Louisiana. Sources of bathymetry are some 3.5 million soundings from 291 historic NOAA hydrographic surveys conducted between 1930 and 2003. The underlying bathymetric sounding data are archived and made available by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Two GIS-compatible versions of the bathytopo, one of the Texas coast and another of the Texas/Louisiana coast, are available for free download from the Texas Natural Resources Information System website. (T. L. Holcombe, W. R. Bryant, and S. W. Bednarz)

Bathymetry of Twenty-Six Outer Shelf Banks, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

This 37" x 75" map contains bathymetry of 26 separate outer-shelf banks, 25 at a 1-meter contour interval and one at a 1/2-meter contour interval. All are indexed to a large bathymetric map of the Continental Shelf. Sources of bathymetry are multibeam surveys conducted by USGS, NOAA and HRI in 1998-2006. Individual maps of the banks are available at the link to the left. (T.L. Holcombe, C.A. Arias, and W.R. Bryant)

Bathymetry of the South Texas Banks

This 37" X 35" map contains bathymetry of fifteen banks on the South Texas Continental Shelf, all having a contour interval of one meter. All are indexed to a large bathymetric map of the South Texas Continental Shelf. Bathymetric data were collected in 2012 by the Schmidt Oceanographic Institute, Palo Alto, CA, and made available by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Individual maps of the banks are available here. (T.L. Holcombe, N.C. Slowey, and L.H. Holcombe; and J.W. Tunnell, Jr., H.L. Nash, and T.C. Shirley)