In its simplest form, a geographic information system (GIS) may be viewed as a data base management system in which most of the data are spatially indexed, and upon which sets of procedures operate to answer queries about spatial entities represented in the data base. Utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can enhance greatly the capabilities of a GIS, particularly in handling very large, diverse data bases involved in the earth sciences. A KBGIS has been developed by the U.S. Geological Survey which incorporates AI techniques such as learning, expert systems, new data representation, and more. The system, which will be developed further and applied, is a prototype of the next generation of GIS's, an intelligent GIS, as well as an example of a general-purpose intelligent data handling system. The paper provides a description of KBGIS and its application, as well as the AI techniques involved. ?? 1988 International Association for Mathematical Geology.