Santorini, Greece

Matthew Herman

Postdoctoral Researcher
Tectonophysics Research Group
Utrecht University



Generic Mapping Tools

In Geosciences, many of the figures we make are maps with data plotted at geographic coordinates. Some of you may be familiar with making maps in ArcGIS, which is a great tool, but sometimes you would really like to take output directly from your program and plot it with a command line program. A widely used software package for making maps is the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT). GMT is not the most intuitive tool at first glance, but once you get used to the syntax, you can make a huge variety of figures that look really sharp. If you look at the figures and plots on this website or from my publications, I made almost all of these entirely with GMT scripts.

Note: I have chosen to stop posting tutorials and scripts in GMT 4 format. These tutorials will teach GMT 5, and if you know enough to complain, you can probably figure out most of this on your own.

Note: GMT 6 has now been released. It has a "classic" mode that is identical to GMT 5 syntax. So these tutorials should continue to work for GMT 6 in classic mode. GMT 6 also has a "modern" mode that might be better for beginners and gives you some cool new options (animations, insets, etc.).

Skill level required: Intermediate (you should at a minimum complete the Beginner's Guide to Unix, later parts use awk, and it is helpful if you have some additional experience in Unix, particularly writing scripts)
Tools needed: GMT installed, preferably a Mac or Linux computer (GMT can be run on Windows, but alas I cannot help with that)