| The Global Heat Flow Database |

Developments & History

This is a compilation of past activities on the global heat flow database of the IHFC.

Since 2019

custodian: Sven Fuchs

Present activities can be found here and here.

  • 10/2021 - Second IHFC online workshop series on a quality scheme started
  • 05/2021 - ILP Task Force VIII founded
  • 04/2021 - global data assessment project initiated
  • 04/2021 - Global Heat Flow Database - release 2021 published
  • 04/2021 - paper on new database items and structure published
  • 12/2020 - heat flow data viewer introduced
  • 10/2020 - First online workshop series on a new database structure started
  • 05/2020 - Cermak7 meeting organized but postponed (COVID pandemic)
  • 04/2020 - relocation of database finished
  • 11/2019 - new webpage (ihfc-iugg.org) launched
  • 07/2019 - IUGG meeting in Montreal


custodian: Will Gosnold

Database included 56,335 entries.

Details will follow soon...


custodian: Will Gosnold

Database included 62,225 entries.

The IHFC heat flow data bank was located under the custody of William Gosnold at the University of North Dakota (expired link: http://www.heatflow.und.edu/). It contained both marine and continental data. In the reporting period, there were few submissions of new heat flow data to the database. Iin Perugia in 2007, the IHFC discussed the need for an update of this data bank since much data has been collected in various scientific projects but also by the hydrocarbon industry since the current data base was established IHFC member Heinrich Villinger explored available options for a funding of such a project by the German Science Foundation (DFG). However he obtained a somewhat discouraging response: Such an effort could be funded only if new and exiting results can be expected once the data base is in good shape and up-to-date. In our opinion, such an update would therefore need to include the proprietary industry data. The interest of industry in marine heat flow is slowly increasing but still not huge. Therefore, the commission will need to discuss whether it will be realistic to set up an industry consortium to collect appropriate funds. This discussion has not come to an end yet, and former heat flow researchers now working for the hydrocarbon industry are going to be contacted for advice and help. Other activities aimed to find a solution to the long standing issue of lacking support for managing the data base. THere have been discussions with representatives from Google during the AGU Fall Meeting 2008, organized by David Blackwell who has received a major financial contribution from Google to develop information on geothermal energy. Initial talks indicated that they were willing to support the data base, but the negotiations were not brought to a successful conclusion.


custodian: Will Gosnold

Database included 53,827 entries.

This period was characterized by an extended discussion on the content, form, extent, way of creation and maintenance and update of the database by A.Jessop, W.Gosnold, J.-C.Mareschal, I.Kukkonen, H.Villinger, A.Foerster, J.Majorowicz, Yu.Popov, C.Clauser, V.Cermak and others. The discussion finished without reaching any decision.


custodian: Will Gosnold

The database included 24,000 entries.

Data can be accessed at three different sites: (expired link: http://www.heatflow.und.edu/; expired link: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/globsys/heatflow.shtml; expired link: http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/IHFC/heatflow.html). Global heat flow data were accessible from a server at the University of North Dakota at http://www.heatflow.und.edu/. It was planned to compile the data into a relational database and to develop subsets of retrievable data and derivative maps that will be accessible via the Internet. The data subsets shall be accessible in a variety of forms, e.g., tables, color contour maps, location maps, borehole sections, etc., and will include text descriptions that enable non-specialists to understand the strengths and limitations of the resource. The data of this period was accessible in ASCII and spreadsheet format (Microsoft Excel 97). In addition to providing data and interpreted maps for researchers, an educational component is aimed for that should demonstrate with graphics and text how the Earth's heat flow affects a variety of Earth's systems and processes.

The website provided data in the following units/divisions: Continents: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, North America, Europe, and South America in addition to one file for all continental data. Oceans: Eastern North Pacific, Western North Pacific, Western South Pacific, Eastern South Pacific, North Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean, in addition to one file for all Marine Data. Countries in North And South America: Argentina, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, United States Countries in Africa: Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Somalia Countries in Asia and the Middle East: China, Russia and former Soviet Union, Thailand, Korea, Mongolia, Iran, Jordan Countries in Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland Countries in Oceania: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Sumatra There were many inquiries about the data and about 20 separate files have been sent to interested researchers via email during the past two years. In addition numerous researchers have accessed the site and downloaded the data.


custodian: Will Gosnold

Database included 36,513 entries.

Will Gosnold was nominated and confirmed as the custodian of the IHFC heat flow data base. There was a discussion on the optimal physical location of the data base. It was generally felt that the NOAA’s Natl. Geophysical Data Center was a suitable location offering sufficient support and accessability. Will Gosnold calls upon heat flow researchers to suggest items to be included and added to the heat flow data base. He will collect suggestions and communicate the result to the community.


custodian: Daniel Pribnow

Database included 34,935 entries.

The working group Global Heat Flow Data concentrated its activities on naming coordinators responsible for certain regions, and improving the data format and the availability on the WWW. New data was provided to the custodian but they are not included in the available collection yet. In 1998, the custodian for the global data set tried to find coordinators for certain regions of the world. To make the usage of the Global Heat Flow Data Collection more comfortable (or even possible) and easier to access on the WWW, the 1991 version of the data base was modified. First of all, the data set was separated into continents and oceans, and it was also available separately for continental or marine heat flow. This reduces problems of down-loading a 3 MB file from the internet. Second, text and numbers were separated. It is thus possible to load the data base directly into spreadsheets or graphic programs. The corresponding text is available in a separate file and linked to the data. Third, the format was changed from groups of single columns (e.g., elevation: columns 36 - 40) to tab-delimited columns of characters or numbers (e.g., elevation: column 6). Fourth, positions were in decimal degrees instead of degrees and minutes. The old notation of N and S for latitude, and E and W for longitude was changed into positive values for N and E, and into negative values for S and W. The Data collection is now available in three different formats on the internet.

  1. The Pollack et al. (1991) version at the University of Michigan. (expired link: http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/IHFC/heatflow.html)
  2. The same data in a more comfortable format and geographically separated by Pribnow at the GGA in Hannover (expired link: http://www.bgr.de/n114/dp/globalq/glob_hea.htm)
  3. The same data in a very flexible format separated under various aspects by Pribnow, Gosnold and Conze at the GFZ in Potsdam (expired link: http://dc.gfz-potsdam.de/gis/heat/)


custodian: Daniel Pribnow

Database included 32,592 entries.

Within this period, the IHFC database became available on the web for the first time (expired link: www.ngde.noaa.gov/seg/globsys/heatflow.htm). Software was being developed for selecting parts of the database. New data were acquired by searching the literature. All IHFC members were requested to send their data or data from there respective territories/countries, as well as the references to Daniel Pribnow. After significant discussion on the format of the database, it was kept as two separate files, one numerical only (similar to the existing one), and a second one with text, linked with cross-references to the first file.


custodian: Eckardt Hurtig

Database included 28,484 entries.

Eckardt Hurtig, the former chairperson of the working group heat flow database, presented a brief report on the activities carried out during the period 1991-1993. The format of the original database changed to that of dBase4. Proposals for new guidelines for format and data inclusion into the Global Heat Flow Density Data Set were discussed at a meeting in Klein Koris (Germany) in 1993 (minutes not available). The documentation of vertical changes in heat flow and the retention of corrected and uncorrected heat flow values in the data set were the main topics of discussion. Eckardt Hurtig requested a transfer of the custodianship of the data base before the end of his term. Daniel Pribnow (Germany) stated his interest in taking up custodianship and he became the second custodian of the IHFC heat-flow database.


Database included 24,776 entries.

The long awaited catalogue of all existing heat flow data was successfully completed, assembled by H.N.Pollack, S.J.Hurter and J.R.Johnson. The catalogue followed earlier compilations, namely the compilations prepared by Lee and Uyeda (1965) and Jessop, Hobart and Sclater (1976). The work included 24,776 entries corresponding to total 20,511 data points. The data set was arranged alphabetically by continents, with oceanic data following. The format used enabled to give for each heat flow station: data number, descriptive codes, name of site, geographical coordinates, elevation, min. and max. depth, temperature gradient, mean thermal conductivity, heat production, measured and corrected heat flow, year of pUblication and the corresponding reference (with slightly different format for oceanic data). A number of colleagues participated in compiling the original data, K.Louden (oceanic data), V.Cermak (Europe), J.Y.Wang and S.Huang (China), S.Uyeda (Japan), M.Gupta (India), M.Jones (S.Africa), H.Pollack (S.America), A.Jessop (Canada), J.Sass and D.Blackwell (USA), Y.Simirnov (USSR). The data were available on three floppy disks in ASCII format. The project "Geothermal Atlas of Europe" was finished and the first copies were available at Vienna during the IUGG Assembly in August.


Database included 20,425 entries.

The commission has created a number of working groups, to focus studies in particular areas of interest. The working group Data collection was initially lead by David S. Chapman and completed the World Heat Flow Data catalogue to the end of 1986. The data were available on tape. To the end of 1987, it was expected that the work would be taken over by H.N. Pollack. Beside this, work focussed on the Geothermal Atlas of Europe, edited by E. Hurtig, V. Cermak and R. Haenel. Beside that, smaller groups inititated the work on heat flow maps for Asia, Africa and South America.