In my mind these both work...

1) I performed a bathymetry survey. I gave the client the bathymetry data.

2) I performed a bathymetric survey. I gave the client the bathymetric data.

A web search shows pages using both words, however I'm not convinced the authors know of a rule or are just using what sounds best to them.

This example from the online cambridge dictionary doesn't sound correct if I use the word "bathymetry":

Atlantic marine species have a shallower upper bathymetric limit in the west than in the east.

Are there any useage rules?

  • 'What sounds best to them' is sometimes the best rule available. Language is usage-driven (and hence the 'rules' are susceptible to change), not a ready-made package imposed from above. // Where the choice between an adjective and an attributive noun usage is available, things can admittedly get tricky. The best way to check which is the better (or perhaps only) choice is to check for sensible example sentences in dictionaries, on the internet, and by carefully using Google Ngrams. Feb 26, 2020 at 13:05
  • Here are Google 2-grams for 'bathymetric survey' and 'bathymetry survey'. I can't envisage many false positives. What do you deduce from them? You can repeat for 'bathymetry limit' and 'bathymetric limit'. (Interest in such studies seems to be diminishing!) Feb 26, 2020 at 13:07
  • Have you tried a dictionary? Merriam-Webster online gives information on their usage.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 26, 2020 at 13:59
  • They are interchangeable in your example. They are not always interchangeable.
    – Jim
    Feb 26, 2020 at 15:12
  • 1
    Why not just say "I gave the client the tub dimensions"??
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 26, 2020 at 16:49


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