Global heat flow database

Custodian: William Gosnold (University of North Dakota, USA)
Download: server 1 - - status: unrevised, server 2 - datapages - status: unrevised

The current database

The recent version of the global data compilation consisting of 35,523 terrestrial data points and 23,013 marine data points is available under the above mentioned server. This compilation does not contain the descriptive codes relating to metadata that were included in the previous compilations. A documentation is not available. Users are still advised to consult the references and make their own interpretations as to the quality of the data. The previous compilation was compiled by Pollack et al. (1993) who provided a decade update of an earliear 1976 compilation. A description and analysis of the data set appeared in: Pollack, H.N., Hurter, S.J., and Johnson, J.R., Heat flow from the earth's interior: analysis of the global data set, Reviews of Geophysics 31(3), 267-280, 1993.

Suggested references for previous compilations:

  • Lee, W.H.K. and Uyeda, S., Review of heat flow data. In Terrestrial Heat Flow, W.H.K. Lee, Ed. Am. Geophys. U. Monograph 8, 87-190, 1965.
  • Simmons, G., and Horai, K., Heat Flow Data 2, J. Geophys. Res., 73, 6609-6629, 1968.
  • Jessop, A.M., M.a., Hobart, and J. Sclater, The World Heat Flow Data Collection – 1975, Geothermal Service of Canada , Geothermal Series Number 5, Ottawa , Canada , 1976.

Next compilation of world heat flow data

In July 2019, the IHFC decided to start a new project on the reassessment of the global database and the update of the database infrastructure. Details will following soon.

Past Activities


  • The IHFC heat flow data bank ( is located under the custody of William Gosnold at the University of North Dakota.
  • It contains both marine and continental data.
  • In the reporting period, there have been no submissions of new heat flow data to the database
  • in 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.
    • A major new development is that we may find a solution to this long standing issue of lacking support for managing the data base. Will Gosnold is planning to meet with representatives from GOOGLE during the AGU Fall Meeting 2008. This meeting was organized by David Blackwell who has received a major financial contribution from GOOGLE to develop information on geothermal energy. Talks with GOOGLE representatives indicate that they may be willing to commit a substantial amount of funding to support the data base and to include it on their website. GOOGLE is promoting geothermal energy as a principle energy source for the future, and linking the heat flow data base with their program would provide a sustainable platform for the IHFC data base.


An extended discussion on a 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.


Global Heat Flow Data Base – Custodian: Will Gosnold, Univ. of North Dakota, USA Presently the data base holds over 24,000 heat flow measurements from all over the world. Data can be accessed at three different sites Custodian’s report: Current global heat flow data (24,774 observations at 20,201 sites) are maintained by the International Heat Flow Commission (IHFC) of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (IASPEI). The Global Heat Flow Database is presently accessible from a server at the University of North Dakota at Current plans are to compile the current data into a relational database and to develop subsets of retrievable data and derivative maps that will be accessible via the Internet. When the project is completed, the data subsets will 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 are currently accessible in ASCII and spreadsheet format (Microsoft Excel 97). In addition to providing data and interpreted maps for researchers, an educational component that will demonstrate with graphics and text how the Earth's heat flow affects a variety of Earth's systems and processes.

At present, the website provides the 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 have been 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. Many complimentary comments on the usefulness of the data have been received since the web site was developed. Also several users have alerted us to problems with the site which we were able to fix.


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.


The WG 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 were 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. The table below summarizes the outcome of this attempt. Problems to find coordinators remain for parts of Africa and Asia. 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 has been separated into continents and oceans, and it is also available separately for continental or marine heat flow. This reduces problems of down-loading a 3 Mb file from the WWW. Second, text and numbers have been 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 has 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 are in decimal degrees instead of degrees and minutes. The old notation of N and S for latitude, and E and W for longitude is 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 WWW.

  1. The Pollack et al. (1991) version at the University of Michigan.
  2. The same data in a more comfortable format and geographically separated by Pribnow at the GGA in Hannover:
  3. The same data in a very flexible format separated under various aspects by Pribnow, Gosnold and Conze at the GFZ in Potsdam: New data were delivered to the custodian since 1998 both on paper and digital. They will be incorporated into the collection soon, now that he has help with the WWW application. The following table summarizes some statistical information about the present data collection.


Dan requested help from the members to take on the responsibility of soliciting and sending data to him for particular regions or countries. After significant discussion on the format of the database, The database will be 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. Contact address : Dr.Daniel Pribnow, NLfB, Stilleweg 2, D-30655 Hannover, Germany, Phone : (+49-511) 643-3513, e-mail:


Heat-flow density database (Daniel Pribnow): The database is available on the web as or from instructions from the IHFC home page (see below). Software is being developed for selecting parts of the database. New data are acquired by searching the literature. All IHFC members are requested to send their data or data from there respective territories/countries, as well as the references to Daniel Pribnow.


E. Hurtig, the present chairman of this Working Group, presented a brief report on the activities carried out during the period 1991-1993. Mention was made of the efforts made to contact colleagues from different countries and also of the nominations of regional co-ordinators to facilitate the work of compilation on a global scale. The format of the original data base has been changed to that of "dBase 4", in an attempt to improve the manouvrability of the data base. A meeting of this working group was held at Klein Koris (Germany) on October 20, 1993. Proposals for new guidelines for format and data inclusion into the Global Heat Flow Density Data Set were discussed at this meeting. 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. A request was made by E. Hurtig at the end of his report, for transfer of the custodianship of the data base. It was decided that nominations for this position be opened immediately while the final selection be made by IHFC Bureau at a later stage. Dr. Pribnow (Germany) stated his interest in taking up custodianship.