Can I create a density contour map in Surfer from just XY data?

Yes, if you have just XY data, you can still create a contour map in Surfer. Since you have to specify a Z value when gridding the data, you can use either the X or Y data as the Z column. Whichever column you use doesn’t matter because when creating a density grid the Z value isn’t used anyway. For example:

  1. Click Home | Grid Data | Grid Data.
  2. Select the XY data file and click Open.
  3. In the Grid Data dialog:
    1. Set the X and Y columns.
    2. Set the Z column to either the X or the Y column (it doesn’t matter).
    3. Change the Gridding Method to Data Metrics.
    4. Click the Advanced Options button.
    5. In the Grid Data Advanced Options dialog, under Inverse Distance Parameters, set Metric to interpolate to Approximate Density.
    6. Under Search, uncheck None (use all data), and change the radius of the search ellipse (this defines the area to look for points to calculate the density).  
    7. Click OK.
    8. Change any other gridding parameter you want.
  4. Click OK and the density grid is created.
  5. Then you can create the contour plot by clicking Home | New Map | New | Contour, selecting the grid file and clicking Open.

Surfer displaying a Heat Map

Create heat maps in Surfer depicting the number of occurrences in a given area.


See also our knowledge base article: Create Heat (or Density) Maps in Surfer


Updated November 9, 2018

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