In 1985, Golden Software introduced Surfer, a program designed to help users transform raw data into more visually appealing and easily understood digital maps. Fourteen years later, the venerable contouring and 3D surface-mapping program is in its seventh incarnation, and is now capable of transforming XYZ data into vector maps as well as contour, wireframe, image, shaded relief, base, and post types. New gridding filters in Surfer 7 allow users to more accurately grid XYZ data, and to easily exclude unwanted or duplicate data when creating grid files. Variogram modeling, which helps spatially assess data, is another addition, as is a new geologic fault-line option.
Surfer users include engineers, biologists, climatologists, medical researchers, and geologists. David Holley, a consulting geologist based in Abilene, Texas, and an early user of Surfer 7, has been employing it to prepare presentations for geologic projects. Holley particularly likes Surfer`s new faulting option, which allows him to input a fault line directly into maps. "With Surfer 6," he says, "I had to simulate faulting, which was very time consuming."
Surfer 7 costs $599 and is available directly from Golden Software. To run, it requires Windows 95/98/NT and a minimum of 12mb of RAM,