3D Visualization & Analytics

Adding Bathymetry Data in ArcGIS Earth

The term “bathymetry” originally referred to the ocean’s depth relative to sea level, although it has come to mean “submarine topography,” or the depths and shapes of underwater terrain. Bathymetry map data serves as a valuable (and sometimes necessary) reference for projects in construction, marine research, and more, performed in or near an open-water environment.

Using bathymetry data, users can gain additional reference for shallow areas (for instance, near a dam or boathouse) to prevent grounding situations. Environmental scientists also use this data as a reference to perform dredging routines, which is the removal of sediment and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies. It is a routine necessity in waterways around the world because sedimentation—the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream—gradually fills channels and harbors.

Add bathymetry data into ArcGIS Earth

To add bathymetry into ArcGIS Earth, follow these steps:

1. Find and click Basemaps and Terrain on the top menu


2. Once clicked, select the Terrain tab

Add new

3. Click Add New to add additional terrain basemap resources to ArcGIS Earth. Under the ArcGIS Online tab:

Basemap resource

4. There should now be two terrain sources added to ArcGIS Earth

    • Make sure Enable All is checked
    • With these two terrain resources added, you should now be able to track elevation changes on land as well as the depth changes below sea level.

Terrain elevation above and below sea level can be analyzed and visualized in two different ways: the Explore Bar at the bottom of the window, and the Elevation Profile tool.

Explore bar mode with X,Y,Z auto-populated

1. When zoomed far out and your mouse is run over the globe surface, X,Y coordinates, and Eye altitude are shown on the explore bar as shown below:

2. When zoomed in below 200,000ft eye alt and your mouse is run over the globe surface, X, Y, Z coordinates, and Eye altitude are shown on the explore bar as shown below:

3. The Elevation Profile tool can be used for further investigation of the terrain below sea level.

To learn more about ArcGIS Earth, visit our website. You can also download the newest release of ArcGIS Earth mobile and desktop, and visit the ArcGIS Earth Resources page for free training materials and tutorials. 

About the authors

Cici is a product engineer on the ArcGIS Earth team, designing and improving intuitive 3D capabilities and workflows to support Esri users.


Avonlea Fotheringham is an Esri Product Marketing Manager for ArcGIS Earth & ArcGIS LocateXT. She joined Esri as a Social Media Manager for the ArcGIS Apps suite, using her passion for language and design to evangelize GIS to the world. She is based in Ottawa, Ontario and uses her free time to organize an annual international poetry festival.


Steve Haynes

Steve recently joined Esri as the Product Manager for ArcGIS Earth. Prior to Esri Steve spent 12+ years as a Technical Project Manager and Senior Visual Simulation Engineer focused on driving solutions in the development of high-fidelity virtual environments. He is an expert in 3D geospatial database and visual development techniques and technology and their application in military simulation and training.


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