Coverage Area for US 10m Terrain in Google Earth

New Terrain Coverage in Google EarthEarlier this week I asked someone at Google whether we could get details on the areas covered by the new 10 meter 3D terrain (or digital elevation model) data released last weekend for Google Earth. I had noticed some areas in the western US did not seem to have the high res areas. Before I jump on a plane to head home from California, I wanted to share this KML file (1.2 Mbytes) Google sent me in an E-mail last night. NOTE: the file has many tiles – so it may slow performance while turned on. The file shows that most of the western US got the update, but there are a few gaps here and there. So, now you know which areas have the new terrain. Google also confirmed the data came from a version of the USGS 10 meter terrain dataset.
If you haven’t looked at the new terrain, I highly recommend it. Change the setting in your “Options” (or Preferences on the Mac) for “3D View->Terrain Quality” to a higher setting (set to the highest if your graphics card is reasonably fast and you have broadband). Then visit a mountainous (or varied terrain) area you know well. You’ll be impressed by how realistic it looks now (especially if you saw the way it looked before). The data is now three to nine times higher resolution.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Wonderful! The overlay shows where the gaps in California, where I live, are. With all those gaps, the overlay is indeed useful.
    Now, if GE would provide a similar overlay showing where new imagery is, each time they add it, we wouldn’t have to play the guessing game we play every time there’s a data update, announced or unannounced.
    You should ask your source for this overlay if that’s possible.

  2. Ernst M. Kofler says:

    @3 to 9 times higher resolution: I think these numbers have to be squared, because the number of points within a given area is now 9 to 81 times higher than before 😉

Leave a Reply