I downloaded a SRTM hgt file from https://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version1/SRTM30/w100n40/w100n40.dem.zip, after unzipping I am not able to open it in QGIS or even gdalinfo. I downloaded other hgt files from this other site http://dwtkns.com/srtm30m/ and can open them without trouble; I read the file names have to do with the CRS of the file, so I played a little with the one that doesn't open, trying to follow the names of the one that does open, but not even this way I could read it; the one that opens starts with latitude (N19W097.hgt) whereas the one that does not open starts with the longitude (w100n40.hgt).


Yes, me too:

$ ls
$ gdalinfo w100n40.hgt 
ERROR 4: `w100n40.hgt' not recognized as a supported file format.
gdalinfo failed - unable to open 'w100n40.hgt'.

I had a look at the folder where that problematic HGT file came from...


and there's a bunch of other stuff. I wonder if the "HDR.zip" file is useful, maybe it has some sort of essential header info. So I downloaded it and unzipped it. So now I have:

$  ls
W100N40.HDR  w100n40.hgt

And gdalinfo goes.....

$ gdalinfo w100n40.hgt 
Driver: EHdr/ESRI .hdr Labelled
Files: w100n40.hgt
Size is 4800, 6000
Coordinate System is `'
Origin = (-100.000000000000000,39.999999999999993)
Pixel Size = (0.008333333333330,-0.008333333333330)
Corner Coordinates:
Upper Left  (-100.0000000,  40.0000000) 
Lower Left  (-100.0000000, -10.0000000) 
Upper Right ( -60.0000000,  40.0000000) 
Lower Right ( -60.0000000, -10.0000000) 
Center      ( -80.0000000,  15.0000000) 
Band 1 Block=4800x1 Type=Int16, ColorInterp=Undefined
  NoData Value=-9999

woah! cool. I wonder what's in that HDR file:

$ strings W100N40.HDR 
NROWS         6000
NCOLS         4800
NBANDS        1
NBITS         16
BANDROWBYTES         9600
NODATA        -9999
ULXMAP        -99.99583333333334
ULYMAP        39.99583333333333
XDIM          0.00833333333333
YDIM          0.00833333333333

So it looks like this is a "EHdr/ESRI .hdr Labelled" format file and need the HDR and the HGT, unlike the other .HGT files which are SRTM HGT files:

$ gdalinfo N53W001.hgt
Driver: SRTMHGT/SRTMHGT File Format

Not sure about the other files in that download folder - they might have the projection and other useful metadata. Grab the lot and see! I see they have weird line ending characters so when I use cat on them I only see the last line (which is why I used strings above`).

If you go another level or two up you can drill down to the documentation which describes the files in that folder:


Lessons: nose around your download sites for more info; don't think a file extension reliably tells you what a file is.

| improve this answer | |
  • I was confused because the other higher resolution (90 m) files in the same site do not have these additional files; anyway I was looking for the 30 m files (which I downloaded from the other link) but they're not in the dds site – Elio Diaz Jul 14 at 20:52

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