Terrain Maps

**UPDATE 8/13/2011** – I have made a couple important updates.  First, I have released a global version of the very popular 90-meter terrain map.  I have also relaxed the licensing restrictions to allow for commercial use.  See below for more details on both of these changes.

There are many ways to visualize the terrain and topography of the Earth’s surface on a map.  Recent technological advances allow us to see the Earth’s surface in ways that have never been possible before.  The terrain maps presented below were created with a desktop computer by combining over 150 gigabytes of elevation and imagery data from the sources listed below.

The resulting terrain maps show an amazing level of detail and allow us to see the surface of the Earth in a way that is not possible by viewing any of the source data sets on their own.  In short, the SRTM and GTOPO elevation data was used to add hill shading to the Blue Marble imagery.  The links below will allow you to download maps for various parts of the world.  Quick warning, that the maps are very high resolution and some of them are very large downloads.

I have also processed several of these with Microsoft SeaDragon.  This allows you to view them in their full resolution very easily in a web browser.  Check out this post for more information.


I’ve also decided to ease my licensing limitation a bit and release the Global Terrain Maps under the Creative Commons Attribution license.  Please credit the Google Earth Library and provide a hyperlink to http://www.gelib.com/global-terrain-map.htm with any online reuse or distribution of this map.  In addition, you must include a citation of “ASTER GDEM is a product of METI and NASA” somewhere near the Version 2 map.  Additional suggested citations and detailed copyright information are included in the readme.txt file that can be found in the folder containing the map tiles.  The credit and citations can go in the end-credits for multimedia presentations.

The maps currently available are listed below:

Global Terrain Maps:


Country Terrain Maps

I have made individual maps for a limited number of countries.  The Country Maps can be downloaded from this link.

United States Terrain Maps

Low resolution JPG files are linked below.  Download high resolution JPG/GeoTIFF files from here

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming



Terrain Map


67 comments to Terrain Maps

  • Christopher

    I hope you can also include data for Bahrain.


  • Terrain Maps « Google Earth Library…

    [...]**UPDATE 8/13/2011** – I have made a couple important updates. First, I have released a global version of the very popular 90-meter terrain map.[...]…

  • nivedita

    wow you’ve done a lot of work. thank you

  • Atul Maniyar

    Dear Sir,

    It is a great work.
    And making it free for general public, you have created wonders.
    Wishing you good health & Prosperous new year.


  • I am having the hardest time displaying these in Google Earth Pro. I import the geo-tiffs and Google Earth grinds away for 10 to 20 minutes, then it either doesn’t show anything, or it crashes. I have a large video card (1 GB VRAM) and 14 GB of RAM, so I don’t think that is the problem. Is there a known problem with Google Earth Pro (for the Mac)–and if so, any known work-arounds?

    I do not have Google Earth Pro, but I’m not surprised to hear that the GeoTIFF files do not work due to their size. I would suggest using a GIS program to edit out a smaller area from the GeoTIFF and try that. You could also purchase a program called global mapper, which would convert them to SuperOverlays, which can then be viewed in Google Earth.

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