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Map showing MH370 search area. Based on the most recent expert analysis, the purple box is the area of highest priority and within that area is a heat map showing the area of greatest likelihood in red.

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Location of the MH370 search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Location of the MH370 search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Bathymetric Survey Update

MH370 Search Area Map—Released 23 December 2014

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…Previous Bathymetric Survey updates

Progressive Map Bathymetric Survey Data Capture

This map shows bathymetry data acquired in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. This data is crucial as it provides information on the seabed terrain to ensure the underwater search equipment can be operated safely.

This close-up view of the area around Broken Ridge shows the significant difference in detail between the previously available mapping, acquired by satellite data (as shown in the grey portion), and the detail that is captured by the current bathymetric survey work. It also shows the significant variation in depth of the ocean floor and the broad range of peaks and ravines in the search area.

Underwater Search Areas

MH370 Underwater Search Areas Planning Map—Released 14 January 2015

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The initial underwater search areas have been identified and allocated to the different search vessels. GO Phoenix is searching Area 1 and the Fugro vessels are searching Area 2. Both areas have already been surveyed.

Three-dimensional model of the seafloor terrain

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These three-dimensional models of the sea floor terrain have been developed from high resolution (90 metre grid) bathymetric data from the survey in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.

The models show newly discovered sea floor features including:

  • seamounts (remnant submarine volcanoes),
  • ridges (semi–parallel) up to 300 meters high
  • depressions up to 1400 metres deep (compared to the surrounding seafloor depths).

The identification of these features will assist in navigation during the underwater search phase.

The MH370 search area encompasses the seabed on and around Broken Ridge, an extensive linear, mountainous sea floor structure that once formed the margin between two geological plates. These plates spread apart between 20 and 100 million years ago, under similar processes found today at spreading plate margins such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The sea floor around Broken Ridge still retains many of the large geological structures typical of spreading plate margins where volcanism and tectonic movements produce volcanoes (now extinct), high rugged ridges and deep trenches.

The recently acquired high-resolution bathymetry data has revealed many of these seabed features for the first time. It is also revealing finer-scale seabed features that were not visible in the previous low-resolution, satellite-derived bathymetry data.

…Previous 3D Models