General Bathymetric Charts of the Ocean (GEBCO)
The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) consists of an international group of experts in ocean mapping. They develop and make available a range of bathymetric data sets and data products.
GEBCO's aim is to provide the most authoritative publicly-available bathymetry of the world's oceans. It operates under the joint auspices of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) (of UNESCO).
They are a non-profit making organisation which relies largely on the voluntary contributions of an enthusiastic international team of geoscientists and hydrographers. GEBCO's work is directed by a Guiding Committee and supported by sub-committees on ocean mapping and undersea feature names plus ad hoc working groups.
These committees meet on a regular basis. GEBCO has its origins at the beginning of the 20th century.
Since its beginnings in 1921, the IHO has played a key part in assembling the world’s most comprehensive collection of bathymetry of the oceans. A proposal at the 7th International Geographic Congress in Berlin to establish an international agreement for the naming and terminology for undersea features led to the creation of a Commission which was invited to prepare a bathymetric map of the oceans. At the Commission’s first meeting in 1903 HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco offered to organise and finance a series of charts to be known as the General Bathymetric Charts of the Ocean (GEBCO).
Two years later, in May 1905, the 1st Edition GEBCO was published comprising 16 mercator sheets and eight gnomonic sheets of the polar regions. In 1910, during the inauguration of the Musée Océanographique (Oceanographic Museum) in Monaco, Prince Albert called another meeting of the Commission. Eleven sheets for the 2nd Edition of GEBCO had been prepared by 1914 when WW1 halted progress.
The introduction of the echo sounder led to vastly increased volumes of data and the task soon outstripped the resources of the Musée Océanographique. From 1929, responsibility for the GEBCO was transferred to the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB), forerunner of the IHO, which had been established in Monaco in 1921 also at the invitation of Prince Albert. The 3rd Edition of GEBCO was completed between 1932 and 1955.See more