3D Seafloor Graphing Exercise
Seafloor Map Step by Step Instructions

Note: These instructions are designed for use with the spreadsheet software package Microsoft Excel on a PC computer.

  PDF   Click on the icon to download a PDF version of these instructions for printing.

Objective: To create a 3-D plot of the submerged Axial Volcano off the Oregon coast.


The data in this Excel table are downloaded from the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) Gridded 5-Minute Relief Data. The data read from the southwest corner of the grid (131°W, 45°N) in the first data cell to the northeast corner of the grid (129°W, 47°N) in the very last cell.

Graphing Data

  1. Open the datasheet. Read the metadata at the top and observe the elevation values in the chart to get a feel for the data.
  2. Go to an empty cell, G10 for instance, and click on the (chart wizard) icon.
    • Step 1 - Under Standard Types select Chart Type: Surface. Under Chart Sub-type select the upper left chart sub-type (colored, 3D). Hit Next.

    • Step 2 - Under Data Range tab, click on the (collapse dialog) icon. Highlight from the first cell of data (Column B, Row 22) to the last cell of data (Column Z, Row 46) not including the latitudes or longitudes. Click on the (open dialog) icon. Switching the Series In: from columns to rows will just change the angle at which it's viewed. Either is correct, but select rows for now.

      Under the Series tab, go to Category (X) axis labels and click on the (collapse dialog) icon. Select the row of longitudes (B 21 to Z 21). Click on the (open dialog) icon.

      For each individual Series, in the Name box enter each individual latitude from 45° to 47° (45.0, 45.08, 45.17 ...) for each individual Series 1 to Series 25, respectively (Column A; A 22 to A 46). Unlike with the X axis labels above, you cannot highlight the entire column; you must enter each value separately. Hit Next.

    • Step 3 - Chart Options. Enter the titles, legend, etc. that you wish. (The X axis is longitude, the Y axis is latitude, and the Z axis is depth. For Series In: Rows, the X axis is latitude, the Y axis is longitude, and the Z axis is depth.) Hit Next.

    • Step 4 - Select Place Chart As New Sheet: Chart 1. Hit Finish.

  3. To save your spreadsheet and plots, to File, Save As. Select File Type Microsoft Excel Workbook (*.xls).

You have created a 3D plot of the Axial Volcano off the coast of Oregon! For a view from a different angle repeat the graph and change Series In (see #2 Step 2 above) from rows to columns. Now try plotting the Mariana Trench and the Kaikoura Canyon (coordinates are listed on the Bridge data tip).

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