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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2005-1273
Version 1.0

Bathychronology: Reconstructing Historical Sedimentation from Bathymetric Data in a GIS

By Shawn A. Higgins, Bruce E. Jaffe, and Richard E. Smith


small map of basin with ages shown in different colors from 1951 down to 1856
Map illustrating a sample surfaceage grid generated from the horizongrids computer program (from figure 8).

A collection of computer programs designed to reconstruct a sediment age profile from a time series of bathymetric data in a GIS are presented. The programs utilize an approach called Bathychronology, a technique used to synthesize sediment gains/losses from the time series of bathymetric changes and divide historical deposition into temporal horizons that are separated by survey dates. The application of these programs as tools to reconstruct the profile of a sediment core, map the distribution of horizons from particular time periods, or map the distribution of sediment ages across a surface are discussed. The programs were developed using a historical time series of bathymetric data for San Pablo Bay, California, however, the logic and proper usage of each program are presented for users to apply the programs to other data sets.

Download this 19-page report as a PDF document (536 KB)

Download a zip file that contains the programs, The zip file extracts to 3 .aml files (macros for ArcInfo GIS) and a brief readme.txt. (; 16 KB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Shawn Higgins (

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Date created: January 19, 2006
Date last modified: March 28, 2006 (mfd)