The data behind the search for MH370: Phase Two data released

28 June 2018

Geoscience Australia today released the underwater search data collected during the second phase of the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The search for MH370 involved collecting large volumes of data in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean. The search was conducted in two phases - the first phase was a survey to collect bathymetry data to develop maps of the sea floor topography in the search area. These maps were used to safely guide the second phase of the search, the underwater search.

Australia, with the support of Malaysia and the People's Republic of China, committed to releasing the data acquired during the two phases of the search to the public. Geoscience Australia is delivering the data on behalf of the Australian Government, with Phase One released in July 2017 and Phase Two being released today.

Geoscience Australia provided advice to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on procurement and planning for the search for MH370, and was responsible for the processing and analysis of the two phases of search data.

The Phase One data shows the sea floor in never-before-seen detail, revealing ridges six kilometres wide and 15 kilometres long that rise 1500 metres above the sea floor, and fault valleys 1200 metres deep and five kilometres wide.

The Phase Two data was collected using sidescan and multibeam sonar mounted on towed and autonomous underwater vehicles. During the search, points of interest were identified and investigated in more detail. An underwater vehicle descended to each of these locations where higher resolution sonar, photographic or video imagery was acquired in order to identify the features. This imagery revealed geological features of the ocean floor, and a range of items including whale bones and the remains of several ship wrecks.

Geoscience Australia has released sidescan and multibeam sonar data through an interactive story map for users to learn more about the search for MH370 and to explore the data that has been collected.

Together, these datasets contribute to a greater understanding of the geology of the deep ocean and the complex processes that occur there; it will be important for a range of future scientific research, including oceanographic and habitat modelling.

Geoscience Australia's interactive story map has been updated to include the Phase Two data, for the public to explore and learn more about the search for MH370.

Data is accessed from National Computational Infrastructure.

More information on the release of the Phase Two data is available on the Geoscience Australia website.