Golden Software Blog

Helping you learn more about the latest product information, tips, tricks, techniques, and customer stories so you can visualize data and communicate results with ease.

Do You Want to Test the New Surfer Features?

We are extremely excited to announce the upcoming release of Surfer, the next version of our 2D and 3D mapping, modeling, and analysis program, but we need your help! We are searching for everyday candid users to test drive Surfer’s new features. This is a great opportunity to get a sneak peek into Surfer’s new features and functionality, to provide feedback on usability and have your voice heard, and to help to make these features exceptional.

If you are interested in participating in the beta testing process, please complete this brief survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3YVTNW6

Beta testing will take place between November 28, 2016 and January 20, 2017. All communication will take place via a closed forum. More information to come as the time draws closer.

Below are some of the many new features in Surfer designed to streamline your workflows:

  1. Edit contours and grids
  2. Map Wizard
  3. Top level legends
  4. New and improved user interface
  5. Streamlined all the grid operations to set the input grid to an existing layer, or create a new map directly from the resulting output grid
  6. Reproject a grid from one coordinate system to another
  7. Export and Print the current view
  8. Georeference an image using any three (or more) points
  9. Ability to connect to WCS and WFS servers to directly download DEM and vector data
  10. Headers and footers for the plot view
  11. And many more! 

This is one of the most exciting releases for Surfer. Our programming team truly outdid themselves. We look forward to your feedback during the beta testing period!

If you have any questions about Surfer or the beta testing program, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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12 February 2016
Real Life Applications

Golden Software customers possess a broad assortment of backgrounds from earth science and engineering to education and politics. This vast background results in a variety of uses for Golden Software’s products. Each customer uses the software in a unique way, and we are pleased to share these stories. This newsletter features Geoff Bogie, of Alice Springs Resources, NT, Australia, who used MapViewer to propose a new search site for missing Malaysian Flight MH370 after finding variables within a seabed area that formulate an anomaly zone.

Saturday March 8, 12:41AM, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 departs on schedule for a flight to Beijing. At 1:19 they make contact with air-traffic control. Everything seems normal. That is the last contact they will make. At 2:15 military radar loses track of them, having made a sharp turn to the west instead of following their designed trajectory north, and at 8:11 a final satellite communication puts the plane somewhere due west of Australia on what is now being called the ‘7th Arc’. Thousands upon thousands of square miles of ocean have been searched, but nothing has been found. Theories abound that someone took control of the plane 1 hour into the flight and that the plane was on autopilot when it crashed, but the only thing that is known for sure is that 239 passengers and crew vanished that day.

Satellite Position of Missing Flight MH370
Satellite communications with MH370 puts the plane along these arcs at the given times. The 7th arc,
determined by the satellite communications firm Inmarsat, marks the last ‘known’ location. Image
modified from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26503141.

Saturday March 8, Alice Springs, NT, Australia - That same morning, Geoff Bogie of Alice Springs in Central Australia woke, poured himself a cup of coffee, and turned on the news. “That a 270 ton plane had vanished into thin air was surely a mistake,” he remembers thinking. Geoff, felt he was in a unique position to help. As a mineral explorer and mining contractor, he has 30 years of experience in plotting target position maps down to 1 meter accuracy. “The urgency and personal input of helping to solve this mysterious puzzle got me motivated,” he recalls. “I plotted the MH370 target site in the same way as I would plot mineral targets across ground that I have not physically placed a foot upon.” He felt that in order to find this aircraft, he would need to do three things: 1) abandon the large search area and instead come up with a 1-meter accuracy point position, 2) remain unbiased by theories on how the aircraft had come to be in the Southern Ocean area, and 3) keep in mind the arcs and projected flight path that the Inmarsat satellite company engineers plotted and tested.

He decided to start by combing Google Earth … but where to start looking? As several countries joined the search, scouring the South China Sea for any sign of wreckage, Geoff’s thoughts put the missing plane closer to his home, some 2,000 kilometers W-SW of Perth, Australia. His feelings were later confirmed when the search shifted to Inmarsat’s 7th Arc bandwidth, though investigators only covered a few kilometers east and west of the centerline on the southern section of the arc. From researching oceanic currents, Geoff felt that the wreckage was farther off the arc centerline.

In defining a zone, and subsequent plot point, he ended up concentrating on the Tasman Outflow (blue arrows in the figure below), which is a westbound bottom-ocean current ‘supergyre’ that sweeps past Tasmania and links the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Southern Ocean basins. As the Tasman Outflow extends westerly across the Southern Ocean, a new heading to the south, below Madagascar is taken, out from South Africa’s east coast. Tracking south, the current meets with eastbound waters rounding the Cape of Good Hope, combining as Sub-Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

Geoff sat down in front of his go-to program, MapViewer, and began mapping out these ocean currents on a base map from Google Earth. At that point, he noticed a NE-SW trending, 100 kilometer long trough with prominent ridge, where a succession of seafloor hills taper down by some 280 meters elevation across a 90 kilometer length zone heading E-SE. Somewhere near -35.09o S, 90.80o E, the west flowing Tasman Outflow current changes heading to W-NW by virtue of the landform acting as a steering device. This unique location, 61 nautical miles northwest of the 7th arc bandwidth centerline, is where Geoff proposes the MH370 resting place. Objects finding their way to a narrow horizon interval below the bottom-ocean current, within this zone, thereafter remain obscured at 3,900 meters below on the seabed floor.

MapViewer Proposed Target Area - Missing MH370 Plane
Taking into account geology and topography of the ocean floor, along with hydrography, Geoff Bogie
proposes the final resting place of Malaysian flight MH370 within an area which has gone unsearched.
This map of that final resting place was created when Geoff imported a Google Earth image into
MapViewer and overlaid a graticule to give the image a georeferenced location that he then used to
plot the 7th arc and his proposed target location.

On May 8, Geoff submitted a first draft of his results paper, titled Review of missing Malaysian Flight MH370, to the Joint Agency Co-Ordination Centre (JACC) – the agency created to be the Australian point-of-contact for the public and all those affected by missing flight MH-370. On July 9 he submitted a revised draft. Other than a confirmation email, to his knowledge nothing has directly been done with his findings, but recently airline pilots and professionals familiar with the design of these passenger aircrafts have made public comments offering support for a Southern Ocean resting place. They also support an ‘intact and gradual’ sinking theory (which Geoff postulated early on) which would explain why no wreckage has been found. Though it would appear that few contributors ventured as far as Geoff has in proposing a niche ocean anomaly zone whereby ‘thermohaline circulation’ or a ‘global current conveyor belt’ has an influence as to what remains undetected on the seafloor of this unique extraordinary zone, Geoff remains confident in his map.

To date the missing Malaysia flight MH370 plane has not been found, but Geoff remains optimistic that his map and the effort that he and countless others expounded will help bring closure to the families of those lost that day.

For more information, see:
Ocean ‘supergyre’ link to climate regulator
Australia discovers ocean current “missing link”

Download the PDF version of this article.

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23 February 2016
Real Life Applications

We here at Golden Software are geo-nerds (or geo-geeks, if you prefer). We really are passionate about maps and map-making, both on the job and in our free time. I’m not saying I’m a workaholic, but it’s hard to separate work from home when you love what you do! As such, I was very excited to show my kids the books listed in the 15 Picture Books That Support Children’s Spatial Skills Development article (in case you’re wondering, our favorites were Shrinking Mouse, Big Bug, and You Are (Not) Small).

I also often think of uses for our software in my personal life. One project I have ‘on the books’, so to speak, is mapping out our unfinished basement in Surfer, so we can design a finished product in order to procure a building permit. Another work-in-progress is a MapViewer pin map with locations and attributes for each of the playgrounds that we’ve visited locally. A project I have recently completed is designing a play area for my kids. We live in an HOA neighborhood, so everything outside belongs to the HOA, and we need to get approval to put or build anything out there. Since our patio is too small for a playground and we have some space that’s hidden from the road between our garage and our house, I thought I would get approval to build a sandbox there that we can put a slide in and perhaps add a swing set to later. Here is the result:

sandbox.png

When we presented this to the HOA board, a board member (one of our neighbors who also has kids) made us aware that our town might offer grants for a neighborhood playground, so I’ll begin the task of looking for a bigger playground set to purchase for our whole neighborhood to share. You can bet that when we go to the city to ask for grant money, I’ll have some pretty Surfer maps to back up my ideas. Wish me luck!

Leave a comment to let us know if you have a fun personal use for mapping/graphic software, and then check out these other blogs highlighting more fun personal uses of our software:

 

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15 March 2016
Real Life Applications

As many of us earth and atmospheric scientists already know, seismic activity in Oklahoma has increased dramatically since 2009. This increase in earthquakes seems to be common knowledge. However, I was curious about some of the specific details and statistics surrounding this new phenomenon. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, or OGS, the northwest and central part of the state, which has historically had a low rate of seismic activity, has seen seismic activity rates jump by nearly 600% between the years 2009 – 2016 compared to the rate of activity from 2007 and earlier. I recently attended to the 22ndAnnual 3D Seismic Symposium in Denver, CO, where the director of the OGS, Dr. Jeremy Boak, gave a presentation about the seismology of induced, or human caused, earthquakes in Oklahoma and how this new trend was effecting the state.

Surfer - Post maps of the earthquake events in Oklahoma

Earthquake events in Oklahoma from 2009 - present mapped in Surfer color-coded by year.

Over the past several years there has been discussion about the cause of the increase of the earthquake events, where most individuals seem to speculate that the events in Oklahoma have been caused by induced seismic activities associated with oil and gas exploration, namely fracking. According to Dr. Boak, many of the plays in central and northwest Oklahoma are deep carbonite plays that require horizontal drilling and use brine injections to increase productivity pressure. These two factors create a large amount of waste water when the oil solids are separated from the brine. The waste water has been typically disposed of deep in the strata via injection wells for permanent storage, mainly in the Arbuckle geological formation.  During the presentation, Dr. Boak sites a study done by the OGS where the OGS officially acknowledged the connection between “substantially increased disposal of waste water in the Arbuckle foundation and a ~600-fold increase in the number of earthquakes of magnitude > 3.0.”

Of most interest to me, personally, in Dr. Boak’s discussion was not the structure where the waste water was being disposed of or how the waste water disposal and the seismic events are related to oil and gas production, but simply the sheer numbers of earthquake events alone across the state since 2009. The number of seismic events is staggering. During the presentation, Dr. Boak showed a time series map of the earthquake events in a 2 dimensional, top-down orientated animation. As a GIS enthusiast, seeing the animation made me naturally think “how could I visualize the quake data from this time period in Oklahoma using Golden Software applications?”

Dr. Boak mentioned a location on one of the OGS servers that contains all of the most recent earthquake event data that is downloadable, which can be found at http://www.ou.edu/content/ogs/research/earthquakes/catalogs.html. The earthquake catalog data, which was going to be a good source for my mapping project, contains a number of different attributes including the latitude and longitude of each seismic event, the depth, the date, and the magnitude of each event. This would prove to be all of the information I needed to create the visualization.

To approach the mapping project, I downloaded the earthquake catalogs in CSV format from the OGS site. In Surfer, our contouring, gridding, and surface mapping software, I decided to create a post map layer for each of the year’s earthquake events and overlay them on US boundary files from the Golden Software website that contain the state and county boundaries. I then used the proportional sizing method in Surfer to make the earthquake events’ point size based on the magnitude of each event. This resulted in the image above, which seems a little cluttered due to the volume of events. I wanted to generate some comparative maps that show each year’s seismic events individually, so I created a new Surfer project that contains 8 different map frames, one for each year. I applied the same proportional symbology to each map frame and used the same base map layers to generate the figure below. As you can clearly see, the volume of events has been greatly increasing since 2009.

Surfer - Post maps of the earthquake events in Oklahoma 

Earthquake events in Oklahoma from 2009 - present mapped in Surfer by year for comparison.

For the final portion of the mapping project, I wanted to incorporate the depth of these events by generating a 3D visualization of the earthquakes in Oklahoma. I used Voxler, our 3D modeling software, to visualize the data in true 3D space by creating a classed ScatterPlot where I based the size of each 3D sphere on the magnitude of the event. The earthquake events ranged from the surface to ~15 km deep. In the image below, you can see the most previous 8 years’ worth of seismic event data together, creating a very clustered and stunning look at these events.

Voxler - 3D ScatterPlot of earthquake events

Earthquake events in Oklahoma from 2009 - present visualized in 3D using Voxler color-coded by year.

Take a look at these easy to use mapping and visualization applications for your next mapping project!

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