I'm having a hard time dealing with geotiff images on a geoserver: I can't seem to get rid of the black 'no data' background around my geotiff image (a map area with a transparent background).

Further clarification: the geoTiff is in a geoserver layer group, and not a layer of its own, and it has the geoserver 'default' raster style on it (nothing but an opacity setting).

By default, my colour image is a black and white one; I can set the colour channels through the layer style, but that strips the alpha info (as I read elsewhere).

Setting the 'transparent colour' (to #000000) in the geoserver layer specifications doesn't seem to work, either.

I also see a place in the layer-specific page where we can set the channels/bands (there are five in mine, but the first four are rgba, verified by gdalinfo) to certain values (range, 'unit' (?)), but I can find no documentation on this.

Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Which GeoServer version? What is the bit depth of your GeoTiff? Did you try using JAI-Ext? Is the nodata value set in the GeoTiff?
    – pLumo
    Dec 5, 2017 at 10:01

3 Answers 3


GeoServer can only make use of the Alpha Channel when the GeoTiff has 4 channels (RGBA). Similarly, OutputTransparentColor only works on RGB / RGBA 8 bit images.

As your GeoTiff has 5 channels, your best bet is to add a layer mask to your GeoTiffs.

gdal_translate ... -mask the_mask.tif ...

Or add vector footprints as sidecar files (.shp or .wkt).

Note: You will also need to select the RGB channels in the Style.


It turns out that the program I was editing the image in was adding a 'mystery channel/bamd' right after the rgb bands, which bumped the alpha channel to the fifth slot, and geoserver took the fourth one (the 'mystery band' that had a 255 value for every pixel) for the alpha.

An oversight on my behalf (and perhaps a problem other than geotiff/geoserver), but perhaps this note about this behaviour might be useful to others with a similar problem.

I managed to find what was causing the 'mystery channel' and remove it, and, lo, the geotiff behaved normally (with the server style set to only an 'opacity' command).


Pre-processing the GeoTiff with gdalwarp has worked for me:

gdalwarp -of Gtiff -dstalpha input.tif output.tif

From here:

-dstalpha: Create an output alpha band to identify nodata (unset/transparent) pixels.

  • see my answer: this does only work for RGB, which is not the case here. And referring to the Question, OP already has an alpha band
    – pLumo
    Dec 5, 2017 at 16:06

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