Scientific Analysis & Technical Graphing

Surfer is a full-function 3D visualization, contouring and surface modeling package that runs under Microsoft Windows. Surfer is used extensively for terrain modeling, bathymetric modeling, landscape visualization, surface analysis, contour mapping, watershed and 3D surface mapping, gridding, volumetrics, and much more.

Surfer’s sophisticated interpolation engine transforms your XYZ data into publication-quality maps. Surfer provides more gridding methods and more control over gridding parameters, including customized variograms, than any other software package on the market. You can also use grid files obtained from other sources, such as USGS DEM files or ESRI grid files. Display your grid as outstanding contour, 3D surface, 3D wireframe, watershed, vector, image, shaded relief, and post maps. Add base maps and combine map types to create the most informative display possible. Virtually all aspects of your maps can be customized to produce exactly the presentation you want. Generating publication quality maps has never been quicker or easier.

Contour Maps

Surfer contour maps give you full control over all map parameters. You can accept the Surfer intelligent defaults to automatically create a contour map, or double-click a map to easily customize map features.

3D Surface Maps

The 3D surface map uses shading and color to emphasize your data features. Change the lighting, display angle and tilt with a click of the mouse. Overlay several surface maps to generate informative block diagrams.

Image Maps

Surfer image maps use different colors to represent elevations of a grid file. Surfer automatically blends colors between percentage values so you end up with a smooth color gradation over the entire map. You can add color anchors at any percentage point between 0 and 100. Each anchor point can be assigned a unique color, and the colors are automatically blended between adjacent anchor points.

Shaded Relief Maps

Shaded relief maps are raster images based on grid files. Colors are assigned based on slope orientation relative to a light source. Surfer determines the orientation of each grid cell and calculates reflectance of a point light source on the grid surface.

Base Maps

Surfer can import maps in many different formats to display geographic information. Base maps are created from any number of file formats, such as SHP, DXF, GeoTIFF, and PDF.

Post Maps

Post maps show points at XY locations, such as sample locations, well locations, or original data point locations. Use the points to show the distribution of data points on the map, and to demonstrate the accuracy of the gridding methods you use.

Watershed Maps

Watershed maps automatically calculate and display drainage basins and streams from your grid file.

3D Wireframe Maps

Surfer wireframe maps provide an impressive three dimensional display of your data. Wireframes are created by connecting Z values along lines of constant X and Y.

Vector Maps

Instantly create vector maps in Surfer to show direction and magnitude of data at points on a map. You can create vector maps from information in one grid or two separate grids. The two components of the vector map, direction and magnitude, are automatically generated from a single grid by computing the gradient of the represented surface.

Map Layers

Adding multiple map layers to your map gives you a way to combine different types of data in one map. For example, you can drape a georeferenced image over a 3D surface map, overlay multiple base maps with a contour map, or plot a post map with contours over a wireframe map.

Stacking Maps

You can align individual maps horizontally on the page by stacking them. Map stacking was designed to align maps using commensurate coordinate systems. This command is useful for keeping two or more maps separated vertically on the page while keeping relative horizontal positions.

Map Projections

Choose from an endless list of coordinate systems for your map to display. Specify the source coordinate system for each of the layers in your map, and choose to display the map in any other coordinate system! For example, load data and grid files in UTM or State Plane coordinates, and display the map in Latitude/Longitude coordinates! It is simply that easy!


Surfer's automatic profile tool makes it easy to visualize the change in Z value from one point to another.

Customize Your Map

Make your map look its best by customizing it to fit your needs! Surfer offers numerous map features to enhance the look of your map. Use Surfer’s defaults, or customize your map by including scale bars, editing colors, lines and fill styles, showing only portions of a map, adjusting the scale and setting axis properties!

Superior Gridding

The gridding methods in Surfer allow you to produce accurate contour, surface, wireframe, vector, image, and shaded relief maps from your XYZ data. The data can be randomly dispersed over the map area, and Surfer's gridding will interpolate your data onto a grid. Use Surfer’s default settings or choose from twelve different gridding methods.

Grid Node Editor

Clean up your grid with the grid node editor!


Use the variogram modeling subsystem to quantitatively assess the spatial continuity of data. Variograms may be used to select an appropriate variogram model when gridding with the Kriging algorithm. Surfer uses a variogram grid as a fundamental internal data representation and once this grid is built, any experimental variogram can be computed instantaneously.

Faults and Breaklines

Define faults and breaklines when gridding your data. Faults act as barriers to the information flow, and data on one side of the fault will not be directly used to calculate grid node values on the other side of the fault. Breaklines include Z values.

Grid Functions

In addition to creating maps, you can perform a variety of functions using grid files. Just a few of the possibilities include:

Using USGS and SRTM Data

Use USGS Digital Elevation Model (DEM), National Elevation Dataset (NED) and NASA Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) data with any Surfer command that uses grid files.


Surfer lets you massage your data in many ways to achieve the exact output you want. Surfer includes a full-featured worksheet for creating, opening, editing, and saving data files. Data files can be up to one billion rows and columns, subject to available memory. You can cut, copy, and paste data within the Surfer worksheet or between applications.

Object and Property Manager

The object manager and property manager makes the editing of any object simple. The object manager displays all the objects in the plot document in an easy-to-use hierarchical tree arrangement.


Create your own scripts to automate repetitive tasks! Don’t spend time doing the same process over and over again – write a simple script to simplify your life! Operations performed interactively can be controlled using an automation-compatible programming language such as Visual Basic, C++, or Perl.

Additional Features

Your Surfer package comes with many additional features to help you work smarter, not harder!

Supported File Formats

Surfer supports many data, grid, and import/export formats.

What's New in Surfer

We have compiled a list of some of the top new features in Surfer. This list is only a small sampling of the new features added to Surfer.

  • Reverse X or Y Axis Direction
  • Use Data in Date/Time Format
  • Logarithmic Z Scale
  • Download Online Maps
  • Save SRF files in Surfer 11 Format
  • Export Map and Drawn Objects in One Step
  • Post Map Enhancements
  • Change the Units of Measure
  • New Line Styles
  • Change the Watershed Basin Line Properties
  • Change Contour Label Font/Format in Property Manager
  • Edit Boundaries
  • Add Buffer Around Convex Hull when Gridding
  • Export Contours and Save Z value
  • Increased Resolution for Image Maps
  • Create and Load Larger Grids
  • More Paper Sizes
  • New Import/Export Formats
  • New Coordinate Systems, Datums and Ellipsoid

Reverse X or Y Axis Direction

Reverse the direction of the X or Y axis with a simple click of a button! It is easy to show descending data, such as depth data, in the correct orientation without modifying your data.

"This is a nice feature, especially for geo-scientists compiling contoured cross-sections of data. Nice work. It’s blindingly fast and works for very large files with very complicated maps." – Shane Wilkes, Hydrogeologist


Use Data in Date/Time Format

Visualize your data with respect to time! Surfer 12 supports dates and times as valid data. This means you can use dates and times as a data variable for gridding, for creating post maps, and you can format data in the worksheet or text labels in multiple date and time formats.


Grid and Display Maps with Logarithmic Z Scale

Effectively display Z data that range over several orders of magnitude! You can grid data taking the log of the Z value prior to gridding, choose to have logarithmically scaled contour levels, or have logarithmic scaling applied to the color scale. This is extremely useful when your data file has extreme data ranges, such as concentration data where the Z values can span multiple orders of magnitude (i.e. >1 to <20000).

“I have been using the new logarithmic scaling feature for several days now. I have really found it useful in working with soil gas and production maps. It does show better definition in data sets that have wide ranging z values.” – David Holley, Geologist

"This feature alone makes upgrading to version 12 a necessity.” - Steven Schamel, GeoX Consulting Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah


Download Free Online Maps

More information is now at your fingertips. Download image layers from hundreds of free online Web Map Services (WMS) through Surfer's new, integrated WMS browser. Connect to online data sources, pick the layers of interest you want to download, and Surfer seamlessly downloads and imports the images into your projects.


Save SRF files in Surfer 11 Format

Be compatible with your colleagues! If you have Surfer 12 and they have not upgraded yet, you can still share your project with them by saving it in Surfer 11 format so they can open it.


Export Map and Drawn Objects in One Step

Save time! Exporting map and non-map objects just got a lot easier. No more complicated two-step export process. Now, simply specify the map as the scaling source when exporting your entire project to a vector or georeferenced image file– it’s that easy!


Take Advantage of the Post Map and Classed Post Map Enhancements

Create your post maps the way you want them! Many new enhancements have been made to post and classed post maps so that you can create the map you envision. Add multiple labels to points, connect the points with a line, and use the symbol color as the label font color, just to name a few.

Post maps also offer the ability to color the symbols using a column in the data file of either numeric values (and you can choose a color gradient to apply to the data range) or discrete color names. Classed post maps offer the option to apply a color gradient to the symbols, apply a gradational size to the symbols, and set the symbol properties for all symbols at once.

Creating just the right map of your point locations is better than ever!

"Loving the multiple post labels function - big thanks for that one!" – Shane Wilkes, Hydrogeologist


Change Units of Measure

Get the data you need in the units you want. When measuring lengths and areas on a projected map, you can easily change the units of measure! For example, if your map is in UTM meters, you can measure an area and report the perimeter length in feet and the area in square miles!


Use one of the New Line Styles

Customize your map! Surfer 12 includes over 160 new line styles to help you customize your map to its fullest potential.


Change Watershed Basin Line Properties

See your basin boundaries better. Change the line properties and make the lines thicker, a different color, or a different style.


Format Contour Labels

Quickly and easily change contour label properties so your map looks its best! Set the contour map label font and format properties in the Property Manager when using the Simple level method.


Edit Your Boundaries

Surfer’s giving you more flexibility than ever to edit your boundaries to look their best. New geoprocessing tools allow you to simplify polylines and polygons to remove extraneous bends or vertices while preserving essential shape, or smooth them to improve aesthetic or cartographic quality.


Blank the Grid around a Buffered Convex Hull

Include all your data points in the grid. Blank the grid outside the convex hull of the data, but add a buffer inside or outside the convex hull to be sure all data points and areas around them are within the gridded boundary.


Save Z Values of Contour Lines When Export

Export all your data! Export a contour map to MIF, SHP, GSB, GSI, BLN or BNA file formats and the Z values are stored as metadata. In addition, when exporting a contour map to KML file, the Z values of the contours are saved as the Object ID for the polyline objects.


Visualize Increased Resolution for Image Maps

See all the details of your image map. The number of colors used to display images maps has been significantly increased from 256 colors to up to 16 million colors, allowing smaller color variations to be discernible.


Use Larger Grids

Create and load grids with up to 2 billion grid nodes! Your computer will run out of memory before you can find a grid that is too large to load in Surfer.

"I routinely generate grids bigger than 32767 rows or cols and am not able to check them in Surfer 11 but Surfer 12 reads them in and displays them no problem. I loaded an 8 GB (26758 x 38890) grid yesterday with 8 GB of RAM and was so impressed I went out and bought another 4GB SIMM to celebrate and make it load faster. Well done!" – Kim Frankcombe, ExploreGeo, Australia


Choose from More Paper Sizes

Work more efficiently! Larger paper sizes were added to the list of predefined sizes under Page Setup. You no longer have to manually customize larger sizes like A0, A1 or A2.


Utilize Increased File Compatibility

Take advantage of the newly available or enhanced import and export formats!

"I really like support for pdf files in Surfer 12. Now I can do amazing things with the pdf files I get sent from my clients. You have just made things easier for me. Thanks." – Shane Wilkes, Hydrogeologist

Import formats: Export formats:
  • AutoCAD DXF (as data)
  • Excel Spreadsheet, XLSM
  • PDF, GeoPDF
  • SEG-P1 (as data or base map)
  • JPEG2000
  • NetCDF grids
  • SRTM HGT grids
  • Multi-tiled ADF grids
  • compressed Geosoft grids
  • Z value is saved as metadata to MIF/MID, SHP/DBF, GSB, GSI, BLN, BNA with File | Export
  • KML/KMZ Export:
    • Export contours to KML, and Z value is the Object ID for each line in the KML
    • Export each layer in map to its own folder in the KML/KMZ
    • Export one GIF for the same symbol
  • Transparent GIF
  • Transparent PNG
  • GeoPDF
  • JPEG2000
  • SEG-P1
  • NetCDF grids
  • SVG


Select a Newly Added Coordinate System, Datum or Ellipsoid

Coordinate Systems
  • Australia New South Wales ISG (Integrated Survey Grid), 7 new zones
  • Australian grid, 37 new coordinate systems were added
  • Europe UTM zone 29N using European 1950 - Port./Spain datum
  • Hartebeesthoek / Lo, 10 new zones
  • Idaho Transverse Mercator 1927 (IDTM27)
  • Idaho Transverse Mercator 1983 (IDTM83)
  • Irish Transverse Mercator (ITM)
  • NZGD2000, 28 new circuits
  • Portuguese National Grid, Greenwich Meridian
  • Portuguese National Grid, Lisbon Meridian
  • Portuguese National Grid, Lisbon Meridian (zero easting/northing)
  • POSGAR94, 7 new zones
  • POSGAR98, 7 new zones
  • SVY21
  • SWEREF99, 12 new local zones
  • SWEREF99/RT90, 6 new emulation zones
  • IRENET95
  • Lisbon 1937 (Lisbon Meridian)
  • NWS-84
  • Posiciones Geodesicas Argentinas 1994 (WGS84 base)
  • Posiciones Geodesicas Argentinas 1998 (WGS84 base)
  • SVY21 (WGS84 base)
  • SWEREF99
  • NWS-84 Sphere
System Requirements
  • Windows XP SP2 or higher, Vista, 7, 8 (excluding RT) or higher
  • 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems supported 
  • 1024 x 768 or higher monitor resolution with 16-bit (or higher) color depth
  • At least 500 MB free hard disk space
  • At least 512 MB RAM minimum

32-bit and 64-bit versions of Surfer are available.

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