I am trying to make my own vector tiles and I am using Mapbox Studio Classic for that purpose. When I export my dataset, Mapbox Studio will try to figure out the extend of my data and those queries take very long.

The query it's performing is like this:

FROM (SELECT ST_Extent(geom) as ext from cont) as tmp`

And my cont table is quite huge with a lot of short (non of them is long) contour lines in it. It has an index on the geom column (GIST).

The query is taking a LOT of time (several minutes) on our beefed up machine.

Is there a way to improve the performance of that query?



Subquery Scan on tmp  (cost=13016236.00..13016236.04 rows=1 width=65) (actual time=2245959.393..2245959.396 rows=1 loops=1)
  Buffers: shared hit=39596394 read=21929928
  ->  Aggregate  (cost=13016236.00..13016236.01 rows=1 width=5190) (actual time=2245952.748..2245952.748 rows=1 loops=1)
        Buffers: shared hit=39596394 read=21929928
        ->  Seq Scan on cont  (cost=0.00..12830974.00 rows=74104800 width=5190) (actual time=0.014..104310.564 rows=74119236 loops=1)
              Buffers: shared hit=3343020 read=8746906
Planning time: 0.086 ms
Execution time: 2245959.495 ms
  • What is the output of EXPLAIN (ANALYZE, BUFFERS)
    – JGH
    Mar 6, 2019 at 21:10
  • 2
    Suggest Mapbox to add postgis.net/docs/ST_EstimatedExtent.html as an alternative. User must keep the statistics up to date.
    – user30184
    Mar 6, 2019 at 21:51
  • @jgh see my edited question for the explain (analyze, buffers)
    – Georg
    Mar 6, 2019 at 21:58
  • 3
    ST_Extent does not use the geometry index. It evaluates the full geometries, thus it takes a while as it scans thru each geometry in the table.
    – Mike T
    Mar 6, 2019 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


ST_Extent is slow because it "does not read the serialized cached bounding box (since that is floating point) but calculates the box in full from the underlying geometry." (from postgis/lwgeom_box3d.c).

If you need an approximate extent that is 95% close, use ST_EstimatedExtent.

If the table is brand-new or has been significantly altered, update the statistics:


Then get an approximate box2d result:

SELECT ST_EstimatedExtent('cont', 'geom');
  • Wow... ST_EstimatedExtent is blazing fast... I worked around the problem by using a command-line tool that does not ask for the extent... but that would for sure improve the export speed a lot... but as Mapbox Studio Classic is no longer maintained, I guess they won't change it... Anyway... thanks a lot!!!
    – Georg
    Mar 7, 2019 at 9:11

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