Science Center Objects

Defining near-shore water depth (bathymetry) is problematic because ships cannot operate close to the shore while collecting acoustic bathymetric soundings. Alternatively, optical green laser lidar sensors have been used to collect bathymetric points, however, these types of lidar acquisitions are costly for the footprint collected and are subject to bathymetric inaccuracies in turbid water. Because highly dynamic coastal shorelines can be affected by erosion, wetland loss, hurricane impacts, sea-level rise, urban development and population growth, consistent bathymetric data are important and needed to better understand sensitive coastal land/water interfaces. 

Satellite-derived bathymetric (SDB) remote sensing research utilizes ocean optics to estimate near-shore bathymetry elevation values using satellite imagery acquired from Landsat 8 or DigitalGlobeWorldView platforms. Coastal, blue, green, and infrared bands are used to derive band/ratio elevation profile estimates, commonly known as the ‘natural logs approach’. These SDB methods have been published by General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, University of New Hampshire. GEBCO is a joint project of the International Hydrographic Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. 


This research is in support of the USGS Coastal National Elevation Database Applications Project, and is needed for land change monitoring and assessment in areas subject to hazardous impacts from natural disasters. 


Additional information regarding satellite-derived bathymetry research methods is available at 




SDB Videos:



Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. 


Satellite-Derived Bathymetry

DigitalGlobe WorldView imagery of Kāne‘ohe Bay, Oahu (left image) (coastal, blue, and green bands). Estimates of satellite-derived bathymetry of Kāne‘ohe Bay, Oahu (right, light blue is shallow). Images created by Sandra Poppenga.

(Public domain.)