The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 ran for more than three years, and was one of the largest marine surveys ever conducted. Within the search area coordinated by the Australian government, 278,000 square kilometres of ocean floor data was collected and collated by Geoscience Australia. That data is now publicly available, and has been used to create an interactive story map of the search for the missing aircraft.
The search in the southern Indian Ocean has been recreated — from its initial air and surface search to in-depth sea floor mapping — by Geoscience Australia in an interactive tool, using mapping data translated for the web by geographic information systems company Esri Australia.
The story map shows the clearest explanation yet of the magnitude of the search undertaken to find any trace of MH370 — the scale of air searches and the 120,000 square kilometres of ocean floor a full 2000km from Perth that was surveyed. That data captured is some of the most detailed record of any ocean floor capture, too — only around 10 per cent of the planet has been surveyed in such detail, a full 15 times more detailed than previous records.
And although MH370 or significant traces of it were not found, that data is still useful to scientists studying bathymetry — which may have future relevance in tsunami modelling, for example. The resolution of the scans was detailed enough to find minute debris like a lost cable from a vessel and whale bones. A number of shipwrecks were located and scanned with high-resolution sonar, that ‘Phase Two’ data is expected to be fully collated and released some time in 2018.