This paper appears in RIDGE Events, 9(1):11-15, 1998.

A Geographic Information System
for the Endeavour Segment

Copyright © 1998 reserved by Dawn Wright. May be freely distributed electronically in whole or in part, but please keep this notice attached and do not alter the text.

Dawn J. Wright
Department of Geosciences
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 9731-5506

Russell E. McDuff
School of Oceanography
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Endeavour GIS Web Site
served and maintained at the University of Washington

Endeavour Protected Area


A primary goal of the RIDGE science program is to assess the temporal variability of the mid-ocean ridge in the context of observable tectonic, volcanic and hydrothermal processes. Active-process research in the NE Pacific has involved two basic approaches: 1) long-term instrumentation of multiple in-situ processes in the context of a comprehensive ridge-crest Observatory (e.g., Spiess et al., 1995) ; and 2) event detection using the SOSUS hydrophone array (Fox et al., 1993) and subsequent response studies in order to characterize transient ridge crest activity (e.g., Fox, 1993). Two segments within the Juan de Fuca Ridge have been chosen as RIDGE Observatories for long-term instrumentation and study: the volcanically-active Cleft Segment, and the hydrothermally-vigorous Endeavour Segment. This article focuses on the Endeavour segment (Figure 1) and describes efforts in progress to integrate accurately-located, high-resolution topographic, photographic, seismic, chemical, geological, biological and acoustic data into a geographic information system (GIS) for support of the RIDGE Observatory Experiment (ROBE).

Index Map of the
Endeavour Segment

Figure 1.
Index map of the Endeavour Segment, courtesy of Deborah Kelley, University of Washington.

A relatively mature GIS data base has been maintained by the VENTS program for Cleft, CoAxial and other portions of the Juan de Fuca Ridge system in which NOAA researchers have focused their efforts over the past decade (e.g., Bobbitt et al., 1997; Wright et al., 1997). However with the addition of Endeavour to the observatory, the community is faced with the dilemma of needing to bring into a readily-accessible medium, the extensive data sets that have accumulated over the years from that segment. NSF has funded an effort to initiate and develop an Endeavour database fully compatible within the existing Juan de Fuca GIS now in place by NOAA-PMEL ( As a wide variety of national and international investigators begin to develop an interest in working within the NE Pacific ROBE sites, ready access to comprehensive and comparable information systems will be essential for effective participation of and contribution from these scientists. Beyond the utility of a GIS for data management, the resulting synergy of different data types within the system provides the scientific community with more information and insight than by considering each type of data separately (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Image

Figure 2. Screen dump of a demo ArcView session showing various data sets from CoAxial and Axial. Windows clockwise from top left: (a) Sea Beam bathymetry at 50-m contour interval overlain with locations of seafloor markers and rock core sample sites; (b) shaded grid of Sea Beam bathymetry overlain by 1993 earthquake swarms from SOSUS; (c) NOAA logo; (d) Mesotech bathymetry at 1-m contour interval overlain with Alvin tracklines and hydrothermal vent locations; (e) SeaMarc I imagery of Axial Seamount.

Click on the image for an expanded view

Project Approach
Development of a user-friendly Web site ( is underway, that will allow the community to access Endeavour data in various formats (text, GMT-style grids, and Arc/INFO GIS coverages and grids which are also readable by the ArcView GIS) and to create online maps using the ArcView Internet Map Server of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (see an interactive map gallery of Juan de Fuca data at The site will eventually link to other sites maintained by data contributors. The ultimate configuration of the Endeavour "clearinghouse" will be to provide "one-stop shopping" by obtaining data from various sources, storing the data on a Web server and making the data available to end-users. It may also be possible to inventory analytical procedures developed in recent research projects to integrate various elements into larger process models.

Each data layer in the Endeavour GIS will be accompanied by a text document containing metadata (a standardized, detailed summary of data layer characteristics, with "pointers" to on-line locations and PI contact information). Metadata creation is in progress using a metadata creation tool for the ArcView GIS that parses text in a format acceptable by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The FGDC oversees content standards for metadata as directed by the new National Spatial Data Infrastructure (Executive Order 12906 signed by President Clinton in April 1994) which has emerged as one of the strongest programs for information resource management at all levels of government (FGDC, 1991). Maintaining FGDC-compliant metadata for Endeavour GIS layers will provide an important linkage to Federal data clearinghouses maintaining similar records, as well as to allied earth science agencies outside of the RIDGE community.

Available Data

Regional Scale
A major source of ridge crest bathymetric data for Endeavour comes from LDEO's RIDGE Multibeam Synthesis Project. The Endeavour Observatory is located in "Area 12" of that project. The original data for the RIDGE Multibeam Synthesis Project Area 12 Grid were collected by NOAA/ORD/ERL/PMEL investigators from the NOAA ships Surveyor and Discoverer. A link on the Endeavour GIS site has been provided for users to obtain these data directly from the Multibeam web site. They can also purchase the RIDGE Multibeam Synthesis CD-ROM from the RIDGE Office. Wright et al. (in press) have developed a suite of tools for conversion of GMT-style grids and files to GIS format and vice-versa, should users wish to integrate RIDGE Multibeam Synthesis data with existing GIS layers.

In 1996, Deborah Kelley, University of Washington (UW), conducted a survey of the Endeavour Observatory using the Krupp-Atlas Hydrosweep System on the RV Thomas G. Thompson. These data will be available as GMT-style grids and Arc/INFO grids and coverages as ".e00" export files, all with associated metadata.

Segment Scale
The following data sets will be available as available as GMT-style grids, Arc/INFO grids and coverages as ".e00" export files, and/or text files, all with associated metadata: swath bathymetry, side-scan sonar images, fixed transponder locations, magnetics profiles, and water-column CTD profiles.

Vent-Field Scale
Most data collected at the vent-field scale in the Endeavour region (Figure 3) have been referenced to the University of Washington local Alvin grid.
Main Vent Fields
Figure 3. Schematic of Main Endeavour Vent Field from Tivey (1998), showing sites of future planned experiments in tidal variability, conductive and diffuse heat flow, total heat flux, acoustic imaging, and plume processes. Shared-use data from these experiments will be incorporated into the Endeavour GIS.

Main Vent Fields
This image from REVEL 2000 courtesy of Deborah Kelley and John Delaney.

As navigational precision (through use of "in-hull" data) and accuracy (by referencing to P-code GPS) have improved, there have been problems with registration of features within the vent field. All data collected here have been converted to UTM Zone 9 using the best location for the origin of the UW local Alvin grid as 47° 53.634'N, 129° 09.871'W. The following data sets will be available as available as GMT-style grids and multi-segment files, Arc/INFO grids and coverages as ".e00 export files, and/or text files, all with associated metadata: Mesotech bathymetry, still imagery, video imagery, submersible dive tracks, samples, fluid chemistry, seafloor markers and geological maps.

Table 1 shows data at the segment and vent-field scales that are currently being processed for incorporation into the Endeavour GIS. We anticipate incorporating additional navigation, pressure sensor, and current meter data from any experiments successfully funded by the May 1998 NSF review panel that will focus on the linkage of hydrothermal heat and mass fluxes to tidal forcing and microbial output (Tivey, 1998).

Table 1. Endeavour Segment GIS Data in Processing Queue

Segment Scale

Data Type Year Collected Archived At Investigator(s)
Swath Bathymetry 1984 NOAA Johnson/Delaney
Swath Bathymetry 1987 NOAA Johnson/Delaney
Swath Bathymetry 1991 UW Delaney
Swath Bathymetry 1996 UW Delaney
DSL-120 Bathymetry 1991 UW Delaney
DSL-120 Amplitude 1991 UW Delaney
OBS Data 1988 UC Davis McClain
OBS Data 1991 UC Davis McClain
OBS Data 1995 UW Wilcock
SeaMARC II 1988 UW Johnson
Magnetics 1988 UW Johnson
Magnetics 1990 WHOI/UW Tivey/Johnson
Water Column CTD 198x NOAA Baker/Massoth
Water Column CTD 1984 UCSB Lupton
Water Column CTD 1986 UW Lilley
Water Column CTD 1988 IOS Thomson
Water Column CTD 1991 IOS Thomson
Water Column CTD 1995 UW Lilley
Permanent Transponders UW Delaney

Vent Field Scale

Data Type Year Collected Archived At Investigator(s)
Alvin Dive Still Images 1984 UW Johnson/Delaney
Alvin Dive Still Images 1987 UW Baross/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Still Images 1988 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley/Baross
Alvin Dive Still Images 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Still Images 1995 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Still Images 1997 UW Delaney/Fisher
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1984 UW Johnson/Delaney
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1987 UW Baross/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1988 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley/Baross
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1995 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Video Imagery 1997 UW Delaney/Fisher
Alvin Dive Tracks 1988 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley/Baross
Alvin Dive Tracks 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Tracks 1995 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin Dive Tracks 1997 UW Delaney/Fisher
Alvin Mesotech Bathymetry 1995 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Alvin ESC Imagery 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff/Lilley
Jason Dive Track 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff
Jason ESC Imagery 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff
Jason Video Imagery 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff
Jason Mesotech Bathymetry 1991 UW Delaney/McDuff
Jason Dive Track 1997 UW Delaney
Jason ESC Imagery 1997 UW Delaney
Jason Video Imagery 1997 UW Delaney
Jason Mesotech Bathymetry 1997 UW Delaney
ROPOS Still Images 1994 UQAM Juniper
ROPOS Still Images 1995 UQAM Juniper
ROPOS Still Images 1996 UQAM Juniper/Fisher
ROPOS Video Imagery 1994 UQAM Juniper
ROPOS Video Imagery 1995 UQAM Juniper
ROPOS Video Imagery 1996 UQAM Juniper/Fisher
Geological Map 1984 UW Tivey
Geological Map 1988 UW Robigou
Geological Map 1991 UW Robigou
Macrobiology 1994 UQAM Juniper
Macrobiology 1995 UQAM Juniper
Macrobiology 1996 UQAM Juniper/Fisher
Macrobiology 1984 UVic Tunnicliffe
Microbiology 1987 UW Baross
Microbiology 1988 UW Baross/Deming
Microbiology 1991 UW Baross
Microbiology 1995 UW Baross
Microbiology 1997 UW Baross
Sulfide Samples 1982 UW Delaney/Tivey
Sulfide Samples 1984 UW Delaney/Tivey
Sulfide Samples 1988 UW Delaney/Goldfarb
Sulfide Samples 1991 UW Delaney/Goldfarb
Sulfide Samples 1995 UW Delaney
Sulfide Samples GSC Hannington
Sulfide Samples 1991 MBARI Stakes
Basalt Samples UW Johnson/Delaney/Karsten
Vent Fluid Chemistry 1984 UW McDuff/Butterfield/Lilley
Vent Fluid Chemistry 1988 UW McDuff/Butterfield/Lilley
Vent Fluid Chemistry 1991 UW Butterfield/McDuff/Lilley
Vent Fluid Chemistry 1995 UW Butterfield/McDuff/Lilley
Vent Flow 1988 UW McDuff/Schultz
Vent Flow 1991 UW McDuff/Schultz
Vent Flow 1991 UH/WHOI Mottl/von Herzen
Vent Flow 1995 UW McDuff
Vent Flow 1991 IOS Thomson
Dive Markers UW Delaney
Dive Markers UQAM Juniper

Tracking Our Progress or Contributing Data

We have cataloged, as completely as possible, data sets of which we are aware for incorporation into the Endeavour GIS. Some of these have been provided by the investigators involved and others have been taken from the open literature. If you have a data set that you would like to contribute to this community resource, please e-mail one of the principal investigators: Dawn Wright ( or Russ McDuff ( Comments on the Endeavour GIS web site as it progresses are also welcome via

We gratefully acknowledge the support of NSF grant OCE-9633609, and the ongoing labors of Veronique Robigou and Jessica Wilcox at UW, and Hamilton Smillie at Oregon State.


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Federal Geographic Data Committee. 1991. A National Geographic Information Resource: The Spatial Foundation of the Information-Based Society. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

Fox, C., Detection and response to a seafloor spreading event, RIDGE Events, 4, 1-2, 24, 1993

Fox, C.G., R.P. Dziak, H. Matsumoto, and A.E. Schreiner, 1993. Potential for monitoring low-level seismicity on the Juan de Fuca Ridge using military hydrophone arrays. Marine Technology Society J. 27(4), 22-30.

National Research Council, Mapping Science Committee, 1990. Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the National Mapping Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Spiess, F.N., J.R. Delaney, J.P. Cowen, R.W. Embley, C.A. Fisher, S.K. Juniper, and J.K. Tivey, 1995. Framework and Guidelines for the Juan de Fuca Ridge Seafloor Observatory , RIDGE, Woods Hole, MA.

Tivey, M., 1998. RIDGE Seafloor Observatory Coordinating Meeting Summary, RIDGE, Durham, NH.

Wright, D.J., C.G. Fox, and A.M. Bobbitt, 1997. A scientific information model for deepsea mapping and sampling, Mar. Geod., 20 (4), 367-379.

Wright, D.J., R. Wood, and B. Sylvander, in press, 1998. ArcGMT: A suite of tools for conversion between Arc/INFO and Generic Mapping Tools (GMT), Computers & Geosciences. (

Last updated: August 31, 2000

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