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Display Public GIS Data using Surfer

Surfer is a great tool for displaying geospatial data! There is a great deal of geospatial data that is freely available from governmental agencies and data repositories. We offer links to a number of these resources on the Useful Links page on the Golden Software website. Using these links, or other resources, can help you find a great deal of data that is available to download and use for your projects. 

An example of a public organization that has such data is the Colorado Division of Water Resources. They publish a large amount of GIS data that is free for all to use. Most State and Federal Agencies have similar GIS repositories. Below is a link where GIS data can be downloaded from the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

GIS Data for Download

From this website, you can download an number of different types of water-related data, including: aquifer boundaries, basin and management district boundaries, Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) files, and boundaries for water bodies and rivers. Below I have described the process to display the shapefiles (*.shp) that are avaialble for download in Surfer 12.

On the data download page, there is information provided about the types of data files that are available. Also each downloaded file contains "metadata" which includes any pertinent information about that particular file. Below is an example of some of the metadata avaialbe on the website:

Format: Shapefiles in .ZIP files
Projection: UTM, NAD 83, Zone 13, Meters
Metadata: All Metadata Included in .ZIP Files

You can use the shapefiles directly in Surfer to create maps. Below are the steps that you can use to create a Base Map in Surfer 12.

  1. To create a base map using a shapefile, use the Map | New | Base Map command. 
  2. In the Import dialog, navigate to the location of your shapefiles.
  3. Select one of the shapefile and click Open. This will create a new Map object that contains axes and a Base object from the selected shapefile
  4. If you would like to add a second shapefile to this map, you can use the Map | Add | Base Layer command. The shapefile will be added to the same map in a difference Base layer.

When you import the a shapefile, it will likely be imported without any formatting, and the boundaries displayed as thin black lines. Below is an example of the Lakes.shp displayed with the default formatting. 

CODWR lakes

If you were to add multiple Base layers to a single map in Surfer with this formatting, you would not be able to distinguish only layer from another. Surfer allows you to set the Line and Fill formatting for each Base object so that you can display them on the same map.

You can format the Line and Fill Properties in Surfer using the steps below:

  1. In the Object Manager, select the Base object that you would like to edit (i.e. Base-Lakes.shp). 
  2. In the Property Manager | General tab, expand the + next to Properties. This will display the formatting options for the selected Base object.
  3. Expand the + next to Line Properties. Here you can set the Style, Color, Opacity and Width for all of the polyline objects included in the shapefile.
  4. Expand the + next to Fill Properties. Here you can set the Pattern, Foreground color, and Foreground opacity for for all of the polygon objects included in the shapefile.

    In the Fill Properties section, you can also load an image to use as the fill. Next to Load from, click the File... button to load an image from a file. If you have copied an image to the clipboard, click the Clipboard button to select an image on the windows clipboard.

Using the GIS data available from local, state, or federal agencies you can create very interesting maps that display a great deal of public information. Below are a few example images created using shapefiles that were downloaded from the Colorado Division of Water Resources:

CODWR No RiversAbove is a map displaying the water drainage districts (orange), lakes (blue), water management districts (green), and the outline for severs groundwater aquifers (Denver Basin Aquifers, Arkansas River Valley Fill Aquifer, and the Fountain Aquifer).

Below I have displayed a map of all of the rivers that are mapped in each of the water drainage districts. These include small intermittent streams as well as large rivers. This type of information if useful for watershed analysis, such as calculating potential rainfall runoff.

CODWR rivers

In these examples, I also included the Colorado county boundaries. These boundary files, along with many others are available from the Downloads section of the Golden Software Support Central webpage. The shapefiles for the 2010 US Counties boundary files organized by state can be downloaded here: LINK. These Golden Software Boundary files (*.gsb) can be added to a map in the same way you add a shapefile, using the Map | New | Base Map or Map | Add | Base Layer command.

Though I only displayed shapefiles in the maps included above, there are many types of file formats that can be used in Surfer. The Surfer Supported File Formats webpage provides a list of the supported formats in Surfer 12. A comprehensive list of the supported file formats that can also be found in the Surfer Help. Click Help | Contents to open the Help. In the Contents tab, navigate to Surfer 12 | File Types | File Format Chart.

If you do not currently have Surfer, you can download the Surfer demo to test out the features and functionality. The demo is fully functioning except the save, copy, print, and export commands have been disabled. To enable these commands, you can purchase a Surfer 12 license for just $849. You can purchase the software using our secure online order form and select Download Delivery to receive download instructions within two business hours! 





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Thursday, 08 June 2023

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