Stack 2D contour maps at their respective elevations in Surfer

To create a series of stacked 2D contour maps of concentration data, with each contour layer displayed at the appropriate Z elevation, follow the steps below.

  1. Verify you have the appropriate data in the appropriate format
    • For each elevation level, have a data file containing the x,y, concentration values. For example, if you have 4 layers that you wish to show, you would have 4 data files each populated with x,y,
    • Have one data file containing the following 4 points (this will be used for the Z axis). This data file will be used to create the 'elevation grid file':
      • x min, y min, elevation minimum
      • x min y, max, intermediate elevation value
      • x max, y min, intermediate elevation value
      • x max, y max, elevation maximum
    • The x and y min/max values should be taken from the entire dataset (all elevations). You can sort the data file by X then by Y to quickly find the minimum and maximum values.
  2. Use the Home | Grid Data | Grid Data command to grid each of the data files from step 1. 
  3. Click Home | New Map | 3D Surface | 3D Surface, select the elevation grid file, and click Open.
  4. Click Home | New Map | Contour.
  5. Select the first remaining grid file, press SHIFT, and click the last remaining grid file.
  6. Click Open. 
  7. Click Home | Selection | Select All | Select All.
  8. On the View page in the Properties window, set the Projection, Rotation and Tilt values. Usually, setting the Projection to Orthographic works best.
  9. In the Contents window, select the Z axis for the elevation surface map.
  10. On the Scaling page in the Properties window, set the Axis minimum and First major tick to be the minimum elevation of the contour maps, and set the Axis maximum and Last major tick to be the maximum elevation of the contour maps.
  11. If you changed the Axis minimum value in the previous step, select the Bottom Axis for this elevation surface map and change the Cross Z axis at value. Repeat for the Left Axis.
  12. Turn off the visibility of the 3D Surface layer by unchecking its box in the Contents window.
  13. Click and drag the contour maps until they are at the proper vertical location along the surface map z axis. You can zoom in and use the arrow keys to perform fine-tuned adjustments.
  14. Turn off the visibility of the contour map axes by unchecking their boxes in the Contents window.
  15. You may need to then drag and drop the contour maps in the Contents window to a new order so that the maps are drawn correctly (the maps on the bottom of the stack are underneath all the upper maps).
  16. Once the contour maps are vertically arranged correctly, click Home | Selection | Select All | Select All and then click Map Tools | Map Tools | Stack Maps.

 Contour maps stacked by elevation in Surfer


See attached SRF file for example: Stack contours.srf.


If you would like to add your vote to our suggestion file for automatically placing stacked maps at specific z values, please submit a support request.


Updated November 22, 2022


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