Rumor-mill: Google Ocean in the Works

According to CNET, Google is working on a new product rumored to be called “Google Ocean“. Apparently Google invited a bunch of oceanography experts last December to discuss creating a 3D oceanographic map. And now, rumors are flying on what might result.
Ever since Google Earth was released in 2005, many people have wondered why the ocean floors seen in relief color were not in 3D. According to posts by some of its developers, part of the reason had to do the 3D model of GE not allowing sub-surface rendering. There have been rumors for a long time Google was planning to add 3D to the oceans and allow sub-surface rendering for Google Earth. So, would this new ocean-viewing capibility mean another new version of Google Earth? Google Earth 4.3 was just released two weeks ago – it seems unlikely we’d see something else new right away. Or is the capability to render ocean floors already built in to 4.3 and they just need to turn on new servers to make the oceans 3D? Or, will we have to wait several months before Google Ocean is released?
There are three approaches to making Google Ocean. First, as suggested above: modifying Google Earth’s base terrain model to support ocean floor 3D data. This would be the best approach in my opinion. Keep it all in one application. Second, Google Ocean could be a different dataset like Google Sky where you switch to a different mode – connecting to a different server – still using the Google Earth application. Or, third, Google Ocean could be a whole new application. Hmm….
Google Earth’s capability to overlay images and placemark data has already enabled oceanographers and other scientists to add many useful layers of information about our world’s oceans. Here are just a few examples of useful marine visualizations for Google Earth:

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. I can imagine future versions will provide not only 3D ocean views but also enable the user to overlay or ‘implant’ subterranean sketchup models. ESRI’s ArcScene & 3D analyst tools already make this possible but it is obviously a full fledged GIS product. Much of what is interesting on Earth is actually below the surface. How about Google Core or Google Liquid Hot Magma?

  2. This is gonna be deep..

  3. Google Core? Like the movie “The Core”? That would suck.

  4. Lol, more copying WorldWind, we have had -ve elevation for over a year and can view bathemtry data such as the mid atlantic trench.

  5. CessVass says:

    That’d be awesome!!! We could built the Titanic in 3D under water.

  6. Great. Just what I didn’t need: a reason to burn even *more* time playing with GE 😉
    Personally — and less practically — I’d like to see this cause the negative elevations to be shown in Death Valley.

  7. Only option 1 makes sense. A separate application or mode defeats the point of Google oceans. Land and the ocean bathymetry are completely related both geologically, hydrologically and economically.

  8. Yes, keep it all in the same application. After all, it is ‘one’ planet! Also, when will GE/GO allow us to render our own 3-D surface images? i.e. draping our own 3D-elevation model, or some other pseudo-elevation model such as crime rates in a city?

  9. I think that it would be really cool to play around with. You could visit marine site of famous battles and places like that. You would be able to explore an endless amount of places, all from an earth station . I think it would be great if they could get it to work.

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