Mapping and Plotting data with Generic Mapping Tools (GMT)

Update, Feb. 7, 2015: A comment made by Joseph below alerted me that I had been referring to GMT as General Mapping Tools, which was incorrect! The correct name is Generic Mapping Tools and has since been updated. Many thanks to Joseph for pointing this out, and my apologies for my gaffe! BTW -- I love the commentary -- it provides great feedback for improving my blog. Please don't be shy! Before my time here at Hacker School I put together a short, hands on course on how to use Generic Mapping Tools (GMT). GMT is a very powerful mapping and data visualization package. This class was based around using GMT 4. GMT 5 has slightly different syntax and functionality and will not work with the scripts presented here. I intend to update the scripts to GMT 5 in the near future. The class was taught at the University of Washington Earth in the Department of Earth and Space Science, so it has an earth science theme -- earthquakes! Here, students learn how to make a map with layers that include mapping topography and earthquake locations. A subset of data is extracted from a profile line (red line in map below) so that earthquake depths can be plotted as a function of distance. The end goal of the class is to produce the following map and transect: Figure 1. Map of the Cascadia subduction zone in northwestern United states overlain with ETOPO1 topography model (relief map), and earthquake locations from the ANSS catalog (circles) colored according to earthquake depth. Red line marks profile line from which data are extracted and plotted the depth vs. longitude graph below the map. All files are contained in my Github repo except for the ETOPO1 topography model dataset. Unfortunately, this is a gigantic file that I could not push to the github repo without errors. The grd file can be downloaded on the original website, however, at The file that made the above figure ( is also in the repo, but I am also including a very verbose version below that goes through and explains each step, including some basics of bash scripting: Source.

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Last Modified: February 28, 2014 @ 12:00 am