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International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO)

Publications, Data and Links of interest to the Southern Ocean Bathymetry Community

+ Publications

IBCSO reports:
Antarctic Map: Bathymetry and Geological Setting of the Drake Passage:

In December 2016, a new Antarctic map, “Bathymetry and Geological Setting of the Drake Passage”, was released.  This SCAR product represented an international collaborative effort coordinated by the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), working together with the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and the United States Antarctic Program (USAP)

The map covers an area of 1470000 km2 between parallels 52ºS and 63ºS and between meridians 70ºW and 50ºW, where the high resolution bathymetric data covers more than 70% of the region with a 200 m cell resolution of the sea floor topography. The data were collected over the last 25 years on more than one hundred oceanographic cruises onboard six different Antarctic research vessels.  This initiative is part of SCAR's IBCSO (International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean) Expert Group, which recognises the importance of regional data compilations in Antarctic areas of particular scientific interest.  The map has been published by the BAS and the IGME, with support from SCAR through the Geosciences Group.

The Drake Passage is an oceanic gateway of approximately 850 km width located between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula that connects the southeastern Pacific and the southwestern Atlantic oceans and influences mantle flow, oceanographic water mass exchanges and migrations of biota. This gateway opened within the framework of the geological evolution of the Scotia Arc; a tectonic setting which developed since the early Oligocene and includes the Scotia and Sandwich plates. It is bounded to the north by the North Scotia Ridge, to the south by the South Scotia Ridge, to the west by the Shackleton Fracture Zone, and to the east by the South Sandwich Trench. The Scotia Sea contains several active and extinct spreading ridges that led to the opening of the Drake Passage. Several continental banks and oceanic basins are located in Scotia Sea, most notably in its southern part.

Drake Geomap 2016The geodynamic evolution of the region, seismic activity and tectonic data suggest a complex evolution of the Drake Passage such that the Shackleton Fracture Zone began as an oceanic ridge-to-ridge transform fault with strike-slip motion along most of its length, and subsequently became a transpressive transcurrent fault zone as it is at present. The Shackleton Fracture Zone, which occupies a central position in the Drake Passage, intersects two extinct spreading centres – the West Scotia Ridge (extinct 6.4 Ma ago) and the Phoenix-Antarctic Ridge (extinct 3 Ma ago), and is an intra-oceanic ridge which rises several hundreds to thousands of metres above the surrounding seafloor. Uplift of the Shackleton Fracture Zone in the last 8 Myr has formed a barrier for oceanic bottom currents.

The opening of the main southern oceanic gateways, Drake Passage and the Tasmanian gateway, separating South America and Australia from Antarctica respectively, permitted the present pattern of global ocean circulation to be established. This allowed extensive exchange of water between the main ocean basins and led to the development of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which contributed to the thermal isolation of Antarctica, was partially responsible for global cooling at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary and played an important role in middle Miocene cooling.

Reference of the map:

Bohoyo, F., Larter, R.D., Galindo-Zaldívar, J., Leat, P.T., Maldonado, A., Tate, A.J., Gowland, E.J.M., Arndt, J.E., Dorschel, B., Kim, Y.D., Hong, J.K., Flexas, M., López-Martínez, J., Maestro, A., Bermudez, O., Nitsche, F.O., Livermore, R.A., Riley, T.R. 2016. Bathymetry and Geological Setting of the Drake Passage (1:1 500 000). BAS GEOMAP 2 Series, Sheet 7, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK.

 Other Publications:
  • Poster presentation at XXII ISAES, 16. July 2015. Open Poster
  • Oral presentation at the Eighth Annual GEBCO Bathymetric Science Day in Venice, 8. October 2013. Open Presentation
  • IBCSO V1.0 Release Paper: "The International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) Version 1.0 - A new bathymetric compilation covering circum-Antarctic waters", Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/grl.50413, Arndt et al. 2013
  • Oral presentation at the "25. Internationale Polartagung der DGP" in Hamburg, 20. March 2013. Open Presentation
  • Poster presentation at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 7. December 2012. Open Poster
  • Oral presentation at the XXXII SCAR and Open Science Conference in Portland, 16. July 2012 entitled 'IBCSO v1 - A preview of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean'. Open Presentation
  • Poster presentation at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 5. December 2011. Open Poster
  • Oral presentation at the Intergeo 2008 HTML logo.png, Bremen, Germany, October 2008. Open the screen presentation (english version) PPS 
  • Oral presentation by Ott and Schenke entitled 'Polar Ocean Mapping: Significance of Bathymetry for Observing Systems' at the SCAR/IASC Open Science Conference, St Petersburg, Russia, 8-11 July 2008. Open the screen presentation PPS
  • Poster presentation at the SCAR/IASC Open Science Conference, St Petersburg, Russia, 8-11 July 2008. Open the poster.
  • Joint IBCAO and IBCSO poster presentation at the SCAR/IASC Open Science Conference, St Petersburg, Russia, 8-11 July 2008. Open the poster.
  • Hydro International Feature Article entitled 'Southern Ocean Bathymetry', November 2007
  • Oral presentation by Ott and Schenke entitled 'GIS based Data Compilation of the new IBCSO' at the 10th ISAES HTML logo.png , University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, August 2007
  • Extended Abstract of a poster presentation by Macnab et al., at the International Symposium Asian Collaboration in IPY 2007-2008, Tokyo, Japan, 1 March 2007. Open the Extended Abstract

+ Data

The Southern Ocean bathymetry is of great importance for the modeling and understanding of ocean gateways and barriers, the nature of the thermohaline circulation with Antarctic bottom water formation, and the relevance of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current for Antarctica's glaciation. The sea floor topography controls ocean circulation and ocean mixing - and has strong influence on global climate.

The sea floor topography of the Southern Ocean is still largely unknown. Survey activities of modern icebreaking vessels during the last decade using multibeam and other systems have increased data availability, making it possible for compilations of new bathymetric charts around Antarctica.

Digital depth data provide information about digital elevation model derivatives and hence additional input parameters for ocean models. The provision of digital data enables complex data processing for supervised classification or GIS based modeling and prediction.The objective of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) programme is to gain better knowledge of the sea floor topography in the Southern Ocean. For that reason the IBCSO group collects and compiles bathymetric data from hydrographic offices, scientific institutions and data centres to create the first regional digital bathymetric model that covers all circum-Antarctic waters.

The digital bathymetric model of IBCSO Version 1.0 has a 500m x 500m resolution based on a Polar Stereographic projection for the area south of 60° S. It is publicly available together with a digital chart for printing.

For further information see the IBCSO website.


IBCSO SID overviewThe IBCSO database currently consists of more than 4200 million data points contributed by more than 30 institutions from 15 countries. In total 177 Multibeam cruises were available building the nuclei of the database. Single beam echo sounding data, digitized soundings from nautical charts and regional bathymetric compilations are rounding off the database. A list of datasets used for the compilation of IBCSO Version 1.0 can be downloaded here: 

An overview of included data sources and the spatial distribution can be seen in the source identification map below.


The IBCSO group also tries to improve multibeam data acquisition in the future by providing information about the current multibeam coverage in the Southern Ocean. The IBCSO SID can be used to determine where multibeam data has already been surveyed. For an easier access to this information we also provide a GIS ready shapefile showing the outline of multibeam surveys as of IBCSO V1.0 here:


Data Contributions

If you are holding bathymetric data that is not yet included in the IBCSO database, we encourage you to contribute this data to improve the IBCSO digital bathymetric model for the benefit of all. Contributed data will be acknowledged and will only be used to generate the IBCSO digital bathymetric model. To contribute data please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cartography data


To enable users to visualize their own data on a map with the IBCSO look and feel, we are offering the base data of the IBCSO printable chart as a georeferenced image. The 'Background' maps contain RGB rasterfiles in GeoTiff format, which is compatible with most GIS programs. In addition, we offer the contours of the IBCSO Version 1.0 bed elevation digital bathymetric model in 500 m intervals as Shape files. 

+ Links

Institutions and Data centers

Programs and Groups