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Smooth sheets: How to work with them in a GIS to derive bathymetry, features and substrates


There is a wealth of bathymetry, feature, and substrate information available to natural resource scientists in the form of smooth sheets, which are paper maps that serve as final records of detailed, original National Ocean Service (NOS) hydrographic surveys. The paper smooth sheets have been scanned into electronic image files, the image files georeferenced, and the bathymetry and some of the geographic feature information (e.g., kelp beds) has been digitized into text files. These image and text files are available to the public from the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC:, along with the descriptive report documents, containing the hydrographic survey metadata (year, vessel, hydrographic methods). Although numerous researchers are using these valuable bathymetry, feature, and substrate resources for a variety of purposes, there is little information about how to utilize or interpret the available data; therefore, there is a risk of users misunderstanding or misinterpreting the data. This guide is written to provide the user with enough information to understand and properly utilize the smooth sheets and their associated data.

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