First High-resolution Map of the Great Barrier Reef Released - 06/02/2018


One and a half million square kilometres of bathymetric seafloor data have been released to the public by Geoscience Australia under partnership with James Cook University and the Australian Hydrographic Service of the Great Barrier Reef. The project carried out high-resolution bathymetric scans, which were combined with existing datasets held by the government to create the most comprehensive, detailed models produced to date.

The release comes as the federal government announced an AU$60 million investment in protective measures for the Great Barrier Reef, which include measures to shield the Reef from polluted water, and investment in Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the CSIRO to develop new ways for the reef to adapt and recover.

The Great Barrier Reef data is the first in a series of 30 metre datasets that will be released as part of this project. This represents the highest resolution depth model of the Great Barrier Reef to date, said Dr Robin Beaman, research leader for the James Cook University. His team is using cutting-edge scientific techniques to combine historical and newly-acquired bathymetry data of the entire northern coastline of Australia. Their partners at Geoscience Australia will be releasing open source data of large parts of the coastline as it becomes available, Beaman further explained.

Environmental management 

The dataset that has been released maps the entire Great Barrier Reef with data that is around eight times higher resolution than what was available previously. This is a vast improvement and it creates huge opportunities for the scientific and policy community, most importantly for the environmental management of the reef, said Dr Stuart Minchin. Bathymetry data is also an important input for oceanographic modelling which can be used to improve our knowledge of climate change impacts, marine biodiversity and species distribution. It will also support modelling of tides and ocean currents.

The data from this first release is available here in a range of formats.

Last updated: 27/02/2018