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Importing Contours from Surfer into Google Earth

Working in Google Earth is becoming an increasingly popular method for sharing and displaying maps among colleagues and between consultants and clients. It is a simple and easy way to import maps and display information over an aerial image, and best of all, Google Earth is used ubiquitously. For these reasons, Golden Software has added the ability to export from Surfer 10 and up to KML and KMZ formats, so users can export their maps and open them directly in Google Earth.

To create a colored contour map, export it to a KML file and open it in Google Earth to see the results:

  1. Open Surfer.
  2. Create the map. For example, click Home | New Map | Contour, select Conifer.grd from the Sample files, and click Open
  3. If available, the coordinate system information is automatically entered for the Contours layer. In this case, the map is in UTM coordinates.
  4. KML files convert the coordinates of the map to Lat/Long units, if they are not already Lat/Long, so a coordinate system for the map must be specified. To check this, click Map in the Contents window, and in the Properties window click on the Coordinate System tab.
  5. If the coordinate system Name is Unreferenced local system, click the Change button, select the coordinate system for the map and click OK. 
  6. Add any color and customizations to the map (see here for instructions).
  7. In the Contents window, uncheck the check boxes next to Right Axis, Left Axis, Top Axis and Bottom Axis

Create and customize a contour map in Surfer for export to Google Earth as an overlay.
Create your map with a specified coordinate system, color and transparency, ready for export to Google Earth.

  1. Click File | Export.
  2. Give the file a name, change the Save as type to KML Google Earth KML, and click Save.
  3. Click OK in the Export Options dialog and the KML file is created.
  4. Open Google Earth.
  5. Click File | Open, select the KML file, and click Open. The contour map is loaded and displayed over the aerial photo. The color and transparency properties are retained.

Surfer contour maps can be overlain on aerial imagery in Google Earth.
Open the KML file in Google Earth and the map is automatically placed in the correct location over the aerial image.

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