Establishing modern scientific and technical standards for geologic maps and their derivative map products is vital to both producers and users of such maps as we move into an age of digital cartography. Application of earth-science data in complex geographic information systems, acceleration of geologic map production, and reduction of population costs require that national standards be developed for digital geologic cartography and computer analysis. Since December 1988, under commission of the Chief Geologic of the U.S. Geological Survey and the mandate of the National Geologic Mapping Program (with added representation from the Association of American State Geologists), a committee has been designing a comprehensive set of scientific map standards. Three primary issues were: (1) selecting scientific symbology and its digital representation; (2) creating an appropriate digital coding system that characterizes geologic features with respect to their physical properties, stratigraphic and structural relations, spatial orientation, and interpreted mode of origin; and (3) developing mechanisms for reporting levels of certainty for descriptive as well as measured properties. Approximately 650 symbols for geoscience maps, including present usage of the U.S Geological Survey, state geological surveys, industry, and academia have been identified and tentatively adopted. A proposed coding system comprises four-character groupings of major and minor codes that can identify all attributes of a geologic feature. Such a coding system allows unique identification of as many as 105 geologic names and values on a given map. The new standard will track closely the latest developments of the Proposed Standard for Digital Cartographic Data soon to be submitted to the National Institute of Standards and Technology by the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on Digital Cartography. This standard will adhere generally to the accepted definitions and specifications for spatial data transfer. It will require separate specifications of digital cartographic quality relating to positional accuracy and ranges of measured and interpreted values such as geologic age and rock composition. Provisional digital geologic map standards will be published for trial implementation. After approximately two years, when comments on the proposed standards have been solicited and modifications made, formal adoption of the standards will be recommended. Widespread acceptance of the new standards will depend on their applicability to the broadest range of earth-science map products and their adaptability to changing cartographic technology.
Additional publication details
Toward digital geologic map standards: a progress report
Publ by ASTM
Philadelphia, PA, United States
Larger Work Title:
ASTM Special Technical Publication
International Symposium on Mapping and Geographic Information Systems