What Is On-line Interactive Mapping?

An On-line Interactive Mapping web-site is a repository for data, metadata, and related images. The interactive map allows users to view geospatial data over the web with tools for interacting with map, display additional information about the features shown in the map, and query the underlying database. The ROSSI ineractive map is powered by ESRI's ArcGIS Server.

Through the map, the user has the capability to query, analyze and create a customized view of a large range of geospatial data, without requiring the user to have specialized GIS skills.

The Regional Offshore Sand Search Inventory interactive map was developed by URS Corporation, now a wholly owned subsidiary of AECOM, for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Engineering, Hydrology, and Geology Program. ROSSI serves coastal planning agencies, coastal engineering contractors, and the general public as a versatile and comprehensive information tool to help support the beach reconnaissance decision making process.

For more information on metadata, see FAQ on metadata. ESRI is the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. that developed the ArcGIS Server software. GIS is an acronym for geographic information systems.

What is the Florida Reconnaissance Offshore Sand Search Database?

The purpose of the ROSS website is to enable the user to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to management of our Florida beaches and coastlines. Data that is both current and easily accessible are the key ingredients that facilitate the management process. Two basic types of data will be used in this effort. Spatial data will be used because the environment is geographic in nature. Tabular data will be used to store information about events which take place at locations stored as spatial data and referred to as spatial features.

The database stores information about sand samples. Information associated with sand samples includes, but is not limited to, granulometric data, bathymetry, seismic and sidescan sonar images, core photos, core logs, core descriptions, Munsell Color, metadata (information about the original data), and associated project information.

The tool used for manipulating, analyzing and displaying spatial and tabular data is a Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS provides a 'Spatial' view of information. GIS will be used to display and interpret results.

Today, spatial features are housed in corporate relational databases along with their spatial attributes. In other words, spatial features are stored as any other data type such as a number or a text string. This affords the ability to take advantage of efficient and robust corporate database systems in order to manage very large amounts of data and relate it to a location on the earth, such as granulometric data in a user defined area of interest.

All spatial data are stored in ORACLE as spatial database engine (SDE) layers. Documentation on the structure of the physical schema of the database can be found in the Entity Relationship (ER) Diagram. Documentation on the information content of the data can be found in the Data Dictionary.

For more information on metadata, see FAQ on metadata.

What files are available for download?

The user can download shapefiles, reports, and tab-delimited text files. Check the ROSS Download site often because we will be adding additional files as they become available.

Tab-delimited text files are files in a plain text format using tab characters as separators between fields of data. Tab-delimited files are easily transported and can be imported into most spreadsheets and databases for viewing or analysis.

How do I download files and/or other information?

PDF Files (Portable Document Format)

The types of documents that can be found on the ROSS website in .pdf format are listed below:

  • Reports
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • User Manuals
  • Core logs

If you are presently viewing the .pdf, click on the diskette icon in the upper left hand corner of the tool bar above the document. A save as dialog box will appear, browse to where you wish to save your file.

If the .pdf file that you want to save is not presently open on your screen, place your mouse pointer over the link to the file, right click and choose "save target as...". A save as dialog box will appear, browse to where you wish to save your file. This last method is best if the .pdf file is large and you are having problems opening it up in your browser.

You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to be able to open the .pdf files. If you click on a link for a .pdf and you immediately get the "save as" dialog box, then you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. You may download .pdf files but the only way to view them is through Adobe Acrobat Reader. A free copy of the program is available from the Adobe web site: http://get.adobe.com/reader/. If you have any questions about installing this program, please contact us.

Database Query Results

The query builder will allow you to export your query results into a tab delimited- text file. 'Tab delimited' means that the data columns will be separated using the tab function. This file type can be imported by the user into database programs such as Microsoft Excel or Access to perform further data analysis or to create graphs.

Zip Files

Zip files found on the ROSS web site are created using WinZip. You can download these zip files to your computer by clicking on the hyperlink and then selecting "Save this file to disk". In order to open the zipped files you will need to have a copy of the WinZip software installed on your computer. You can download a free copy of the WinZip software at: http://www.winzip.com/.

What reports are available?

PDF Versions of reports pertaining to information dealing with Florida beach re-nourishment and reconnaissance projects are available for download from the Reports Section. BBCS reports are available through the Links Page on the ROSS website.

How do I use the ROSS ftp site?

The ftp site is available on ROSS from the FTP link found in the top row of links available on every page, or by typing in the following URL:


Once you are connected, the ftp site behaves very similarly to Windows Explorer. The folders are listed by ROSS project id number. Double click on the project folder you are interested in. You can either select individual items (by right clicking on each item once to highlight it while holding down the CTRL key) or you can automatically select all of the items within the folder by pressing the CTRL key and the letter "a" key simultaneously (a stands for all). From the file menu at the top left of the screen choose the copy to folder option. Browse to the location on your computer where you would like the data stored and then select O.K.

If you are having trouble downloading files please contact someone from the web development team. Names, e-mails and telephone numbers of team members are available from the Contact Us link on the top of every page on the ROSS web site.

What are Shapefiles?

The Shapefile format is created by ArcView and can be used by ArcView, ARC/INFO, ArcGIS and other widely used GIS software. A Shapefile stores map (geographic) features and attribute data as a collection of files having the same prefix and different file extensions (see below).

Shapefiles available on the ROSS website are compressed using Winzip. You can download a free version of WinZip from the following site: http://www.winzip.com/win/en/downwz.html. You can download these zipped shapefiles to your computer by clicking on the hyperlink and then selecting "Save this file to disk". If you want to open the zip file directly from your browser, then select "Open this file from its current location". Once you have the zip file open, drag and drop the contents to the desired location on your computer in Windows Explorer.

There are several types of files compressed in one zip file. Their file extensions are listed below:

  • shp   (the main file which contains geographic/spatial information)
  • dbf   (contains the attributes for each spatial feature in the shp file)
  • shx   (the index file, which allows the shapefile to be processed more efficiently)
  • avl   (default legend template for the shp file- see below)
  • htm   (Metadata WWW hypertext DOS file)

The actual shapefile is made up of three of these files listed above: shp, dbf and shx. You must have ALL THREE of these files (SHP, DBF, SHX) residing together in the same folder location on your computer in order for your shapefile to be valid. There is a one to one relationship between records in the dbf file and records in the shp file; therefore, do not edit the dbf files outside of ArcView unless you are at an intermediate level or higher in your knowledge of GIS, or you may inadvertently corrupt the shapefile.

The avl file is a saved legend for your shapefile. It contains predefined colors, line thickness, line type, etc. When the avl file is named identically to the shapefiles and the avl file resides in the same location as the shapefiles, ArcView automatically loads this legend as the default look when you bring the shapefile into a view.

What is Metadata?

Simply described, metadata is data about data. Any information one might need to know about a given data set can be found in its associated metadata file. For example, the source of the data, the different processing steps it has undergone, and contacts for further questions. It will also include details such as scale, projection and extent of the coverage.

The metadata is especially useful in determining attribute definitions. The power of GIS is that a feature on a map is actually a graphic representation of a database record. This database record may also contain considerable attribute data specific to the feature seen on the map. Because of length restrictions for column headings in the table, column titles are not always obvious. The metadata is invaluable in this situation as it lists detailed definitions of each attribute in the table.

The metadata file will describe exactly what a data layer represents. This can be very useful when several data sets are very similar but only one is most appropriate. The abstract and purpose sections of the metadata provide information to aid in the selection of an appropriate data layer. The scale and suitability of the data might also be important in selecting data for a particular task. Again, the metadata will provide the scale at which the data was originally collected and any warnings or usage constraints that might affect its suitability for a given purpose.

In this application, metadata for any data layer can be viewed from the Interactive Mapping screen. Make the data layer of interest active by clicking its radio button and then click the metadata icon in the upper tool bar. When data is downloaded from the GIS Data Downloads screen, the metadata is included in the .zip file received as an .htm file. All metadata conforms to the FGDC format.

From the FGDC website: The Federal Geographic Data Committee approved the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC-STD-001-1998) in June 1998. Standards facilitate the development, sharing, and use of geospatial data. The FGDC develops geospatial data standards for implementing the NSDI, in consultation and cooperation with State, local, and tribal governments, the private sector and academic community.

What is the Annotated Bibliography?

The Annotated Bibliography is a list of writings related to Florida sand reconnaissance and beach renourishment studies. It was created to provide broad information on sediments found on the continental shelf and the underlying processes which placed them there, and sea level fluctuations and resulting changes in shorelines in the last 12,000 years. It draws heavily on theses/dissertations and reports that are frequently less accessible than other documents. The titles are arranged according to the Author's last name and many contain a summarization and or an abstract of the paper. Note: Due to copyright limitations, the annotated bibliography created for this project lists abstracts for only the public documents.

How are the Grain Size Classification Systems related?

The following link will take you to a pdf that shows a graphical depiction of the Unified Soils Classification System (USCS) versus the Wentworth Classification System. Mesh numbers, particle size in millimeters and phi values are included, as well as the group symbols for 'shorthand' USCS nomenclature. There is also a section on useful equations for conversion of millimeters to phi units.

The Unified Soil Classification System (USC)

This system of clastic sediment classification was developed by A. Casagrande (1948) and utilized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The USC is a system for classifying mineral and organic mineral soils for engineering purposes based on particle-size characteristics, liquid limit, and plasticity index.

The Wentworth Classification System

The Wentworth particle size classification, or grade scale, was proposed by C. K. Wentworth (1922) based on the older Udden grade scale. The Wentworth Scale is most commonly used by geologists and geomorphologists, although somewhat different particle size classifications are used by soil scientists and engineers. It supplies quantitative definitions for terms such as "boulder" and "sand grain" that describe individual particles, and for terms that refer to aggregates of particles, such as "boulder gravel" and "sand".

The Phi Scale

The Phi scale is a commonly-used modification of the Wentworth system that allows the use of simple whole numbers for class boundaries by applying a logarithmic transformation.

ROSS Definitions - Sediment Samples

Sediment Samples

Samples of sediment that have been collected by vibracoring, grab sampling or jet probing. Information accessible through the IMS for these layers includes only the Project Level data. This includes Project Name, Project Date, Project Location, Possessing and Managing Agencies, Location information, and Collection Method information. Data associated with individual samples, cores and core layers is accessible through the Enhanced Query function of ROSS. Two ways to access this information are; 1) select the cores and/or samples from IMS using the select tool and sending them to the Enhanced Query Builder, or 2) go directly to the enhanced Query Builder and use the search tools to access the data of interest.


Sediment samples that have been collected by vibracoring only. This layer contains information related to core locations and core lengths If samples have been removed from the vibracores, the data associated with the samples (i.e. Munsell color, gradation analyses, carbonate content, etc) may be accessed through the Enhanced Query Builder.

Jet Probes

Sediment samples collected by using a long pipe into which water under high pressure is pumped in order to penetrate into unconsolidated sediment. This layer contains information related to jet probe location, core lengths and core layer descriptions. Where samples have been analyzed for grain size etc, the analysis data may be accessed through the Enhanced Query Builder.

Grab Samples

Sediment samples collected using a grab technique. They are small samples taken at random or pre-selected frequencies. These samples only define the characteristics of an area at the specific time that they were collected. This layer provides location information. Other data associated with these samples may be accessed through the Enhanced Query Builder.

All Sediment Data

This layer contains Project Level data associated with all sediment samples, regardless of collection method (i.e. vibracore, jet probe, grab sample).

ROSS Definitions - Other



Location of reef/hardbottom features.

Range Monuments

Inventory of Florida's range monuments for each coastal county.

ROSS Definitions - Geophysical


Geophysical data collected during the process of sand searches throughout the State of Florida. This folder contains information related to the location of the track lines.

Seismic Image ID

Identification of portions of the seismic tracklines to be used as reference when downloading data from the FTP site. ID can be made using the Identify Tool.

Time Stamps

Record of the time (typically on a regular interval) at which the geophysical record was collected. This number serves as a reference mark when reviewing and interpreting seismic images. This number can also be used as a reference mark when viewing two adjacent images along the same geophysical track line.

Geophysical Track Lines

Tracklines followed by research vessels during seismic and sample acquisition. Each project is represented by a different color line. The lines can be identified using the Identify Tool.

ROSS Definitions - Environmental


ArcIMS coverages of environmentally sensitive areas throughout the state that should be known to researchers when preparing for sand searches and beach nourishment projects.

Artificial Reefs

Manmade reefs usually built for the purpose of promoting marine life. This layer contains information related to the location of these features and a description of these features, including the volume and type of material used to construct the reef.

Critical Erosion Areas

Segments of the shoreline where natural processes or human activity have caused or contributed to erosion and recession of the beach or dune system to such a degree that upland development, recreational interests, wildlife habitat or important cultural resources are threatened or lost. This layer provides an inventory of Florida's coastal erosion problem areas and contains information related to the location (county, R monument etc) of both critically and non-critically eroded areas and their extent. Information is based on the 2000, 2002 and 2005 critical erosion reports.

Sea Grass Beds

Rooted, submerged marine or estuarine macrophytes of several species. This layer describes the location and extent of seagrass beds throughout the state of Florida.

Salt Marshes

An inventory of the locations in Florida where salt water from the ocean or gulf meets fresh water from a river.

Tidal Flats

An inventory of the locations in Florida of nearly flat coastal areas that are alternately covered and exposed by tides and consist of unconsolidated sediments.

ROSS Definitions - Basemap


Map containing basic visible surface features and boundaries.

Ship Ports

The port files contain USACE port codes, geographic locations, names and commodity tonnage summaries (total tons, domestic, foreign, imports and exports) for USACE ports.

Major Rivers

Statewide coverage of Florida's 50 major rivers.

Aquatic Preserve Boundaries

The boundaries for outstanding Florida waters that are designated as aquatic preserves.


The boundaries of Florida's 67 counties.

Florida Coastline

Position of Florida's present day coastline.

ROSS Definitions - Bathymetry


Measurement of the depth of the ocean floor from the water surface.

Panhandle 5ft

5 foot bathymetric contour lines off the Florida panhandle coast. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Panhandle 10ft

10 foot bathymetric contour lines off the Florida panhandle coast. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Panhandle 20ft

20 foot bathymetric contour lines off the Florida panhandle coast. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Panhandle 50ft

50 foot bathymetric contour lines off the Florida panhandle coast. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Panhandle 100ft

100 foot bathymetric contour lines off the Florida panhandle coast. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Southwest 1m

1 m bathymetric contour lines off the southwest coast of Florida. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Southwest 3m

3 m bathymetric contour lines off the southwest coast of Florida. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

Southwest 1m (USGS)

1 m bathymetric contour lines off the southwest coast of Florida developed from USGS data.

Southwest 3m (USGS)

Bathymetry at 3 m intervals off the southwest coast of Florida developed from USGS data.

ROSS Definitions - Borrow Sites

Borrow Sites

Offshore sources of beach compatible material.

Potential Borrow Sites

Potential offshore sediment sources that are currently being investigated. Data available includes location, area and dimensions. Potential offshore sediment sources identified during the ROSS project investigation.

Proposed Borrow Sites

Sediment sources that have been identified as suitable source of beach compatible sediment. These are sites that have not been permitted.

Permitted Borrow Sites

Borrow sites that have already been permitted for use in specific projects.

ROSS Definitions - Paleo Features

Paleo features

Inventory of geologic features representing the past 12,000 years.

Barrier Islands

Long, relatively narrow islands that run parallel to the mainland and have been built up by the action of waves and currents. This layer documents the location of paleo-barrier islands throughout the state of Florida.

Inlet Retreat Paths

This layer documents the location of paleo inlet retreat paths throughout the state of Florida.

Paleo Shoreline complex

Paleo shoreline positions.

Holocene Sand

Location of Holocene sand deposits.

Paleo Ebb Deltas

Location of paleo ebb deltas interpreted from seismic data.

Paleo Channels

Location of paleo channels interpreted from seismic data.

Sealevel 9 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 9,000 years BP.

Sealevel 8 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 8,000 years BP.

Sealevel 7.6 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 7,600 years BP.

Sealevel 7.3 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 7,300 years BP.

Sealevel 7 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 7,000 years BP.

Sealevel 6 k ybp

Position of Florida's coastline at 6,000 years BP.

ROSS Definitions - Near Shore Features

Near Shore Features

Features found within the area of land/water that extends from the backshore to the beginning of the offshore zone.

Sand Wave Field

Location of areas dominated by sand wave features. Locations have been determined based on seismic data.

Ebb Deltas

Location of sand deposits formed at the seaward mouth of a tidal inlet as a result of the interaction between tidal currents and waves.

ROSS Definitions - Geology/Geomorphology


Surface and subsurface features found within Florida


Geologic formations found in Florida.

SW Physiographic units

Character and distribution of various landforms in southwest Florida. These landforms include sand sheets, sand ridges, bars and barrier island platform sediments.


Shaded relief maps showing submarine topography. This layer was created using the NOAA Geodas data.

ROSS Definitions - Interpreted Maps

Interpreted Maps

Results of detailed data analysis presented in the form of maps, graphs, charts etc.

Mean Grain Size

Mean grain size of surface sediments collected and analyzed from Hernando to Sarasota Counties.

Percent Carbonate

Carbonate content for selected sediment samples collected from Pasco to Sarasota County


Lines that have been drawn on the map through points of equal thickness of a specific sediment unit. This layer only includes data from Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Bottom Types

Surficial geologic map based on shallow seismic data that shows the type of bottom sediment (i.e. shell hash, carbonate sand, siliciclastic material etc) found in the nearshore zone of Sarasota County.


Interpreted maps from various studies on the southwest Florida coast. These maps are taken from references in the Annotated Bibliography.

Side Scans

Sidescan sonar mosaic collected off the Pinellas County Coast.

ROSS Definitions - Queries

Layer of sample/core locations associated with queries made by the user utilizing the Enhanced Query Builder tool. This layer will be unique each time the site is visited.