This Web site contains information on activities of the National Geologic Map Database Project (NGMDB). The NGMDB is a collaborative effort primarily involving the USGS and the Association of American State Geologists. This Web site contains informal, generally time-sensitive material intended for project members, cooperators, and interested parties.


By Nancy Blair, Charles Mayfield, and Dave Soller
Version Date: Dec. 6, 2007



The National Geologic Map Index is a tool to provide better access to earth science information. This index database forms a part of the National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB), for which the USGS has been assigned responsibility by Congress. The citations in the database are searchable by geographical locators, as well as other criteria, to locate digital and paper maps depicting geological and related earth science information.

Until considerable progress is made in building digital map databases, standard ways to locate these files, and the majority of potential users own the equipment to download and use large files, a bibliographic database is needed to identify useful maps and to provide information on how and where to locate paper and/or digitized copies.

This database uses a broad definition of "geologic map" and includes maps providing information on geophysics, mineral resources, geochemistry, hydrogeology, hazards, paleontology, and related subjects as well as general geology and stratigraphy.

The information provided in the fields of each citation is consistent with metadata standards and MARC records, but the records are intended to be simple for easy use and will contain only the information needed to locate the map. Other bibliographical databases, such as GeoRef (American Geological Institute) and library catalogs, provide more extensive records suitable for other purposes.


Basic Contacts

Project Leader (Reston, VA): Dave Soller, 703-648-6907,
Web homepage, programming, server, database maintenance (Flagstaff, AZ):
      Ed Pfeifer,
      Alex Acosta,
      Dennis McMacken,
      Jana Ruhlman,
      Mike Gishey,
Map indexer (Menlo Park, CA): Charles Mayfield, 650-329-5035,


Reference Guides

Bates, R.J., and Jackson, J.A., 1987, Glossary of geology (3rd ed.): Alexandria, Va., American Geological Institute, 788 p.

National Computer Systems Laboratory (U.S.), 1990, Counties and equivalent entities of the United States, its possessions and associated areas: Federal information processing standards publication, FIPS PUB 6-4, 31 p. (Corrections issued as

Rand McNally commercial atlas and marketing guide. Latest edition owned (or other atlas giving clearly marked county boundaries).

Thompson, M.M., 1988, Maps for America, cartographic products of the U.S. Geological Survey and others (3rd ed.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Geological Survey. 265 p.

U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee, 1994, Content standards for digital geospatial metadata: Washington, D.C.: FGDC, 332 p. (Also 1998 ed.

U.S. Geological Survey, 1981, Suggestions to authors of the reports of the U.S. Geological Survey; edited and revised by Wallace R. Hansen (7th ed.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Geological Survey. 289 p.


Additional Useful References

Gersmehl, P.J., 1991, The Language of maps (14th ed.) : Indiana, PA, National Council for Geographic Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 196 p.

Maltman, Alex, 1990, Geological maps, an introduction: New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold. 184 p.

Spencer, E.W., 1993, Geologic maps, a practical guide to the interpretation and preparation of geologic maps: New York, Macmillan. 147 p.



The priorities for map indexing in order of importance are:

  1. Publications of the U.S. Geological Survey and State geological surveys
  2. Geologic society and foundation geologic publications
  3. Commercial and academic publisher geologic publications
  4. State publications such as offices for water or hydrology
  5. Other federal agencies
  6. Theses, "gray literature" geologic reports, and other limited copy maps

Maps of U.S. possessions of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands are included. Maps of foreign countries, the moon, and planets are being skipped until the index is expanded. Topographic maps and "maps" in traditional USGS map series which are really diagrams, tables and graphs are skipped.


General Project Procedures

Basic Procedure

Citations are entered directly from a copy of the publication into fields. The files are routinely checked for uniformity of entry and correctness. The initial search software was WAIS (Wide-Area Information Service) and citations were supplied to programmers by indexers using a relational database with conversions to ASCII text. Searching with early technology was too cumbersome for a very large database. The map index now has been transferred to the Oracle database management system, because it offers more sophisticated data management and field searching. Indexers now submit new records directly to the Flagstaff, AZ, office using an online form or a properly formatted file. When the online form is used, entries are concatentated into one file, reformatted, and then entered into the Oracle database. Instructions on file format and procedure for using the online entry form are available at the NGMDB map catalog information Web site,



The most important attribute of this bibliographical database is ACCURACY. A typographical error that is lost among 100 entries will shine like a headlight when that citation appears alone on a screen. Users will not notice that 1000 words were spelled correctly but will clearly remember every word incorrectly spelled. Misspelling means that important publications will not be retrieved by author or title keyword. Errors in coordinates mean that a major map of an area will never appear to searchers or will display incongruously for the wrong area.

Many types of systematic errors can be caught by computer programs developed by the NGMDB staff, such as incongruous scales, duplicate entries, common misspellings, and inconsistent author names. However nothing replaces care, correct calculations, and proofing by the indexer with the publication in hand. A few extra minutes checking entries against the publication being indexed are well worth the time for the validity of the database.

For accuracy, enter information directly from the publication rather than just copying entries from GeoRef or another source. When resolving differences in entries, prefer information obtained directly from the publication to information in another database, i.e., rely on your own choice of title based on these rules even if GeoRef gives another title choice.

Be careful of exact spacing and punctuation type between different parts of a field, i.e. two different author names in the AUTHOR field. The "[semicolon][space]" between two names allows the programmer to separate author names to be searched individually. Forgetting to use the right punctuation means the second name will not be located on an author search.


Choices of maps and editions

In general, enter latest editions only -- not earlier editions. In general, do not include reprints or re-issues without significant corrections by the same publisher. However, some maps may be re-issued by different publishers, released as commemorative editions, released in different scales or formats, or released with major changes. These and the earlier versions should all be entered. One version may be easier for the user to locate.

If a preliminary version was released, for example, in the USGS Open-File series, and a final version is published in another series, include both the preliminary versions and the final version. Preliminary versions may include maps that differ in scale and show additional or different information from the final version. The indexer will not have time or the opportunity to check word-by-word and map-section-by-map-section to determine if there are significant differences. Providing both will allow the user to choose to look at both or make a choice. (The term 'preliminary versions' does not include draft maps used to produce a released version which the indexer may encounter since these were never released and are rarely available to anyone but the people involved in producing a publication.)

This is a MAP database, not a comprehensive database of all geologic publications. Physically large maps, large foldout maps, and maps on plates folded in the pocket of a publication that are maps of areas depicting geology, geophysics, chemistry, hazards, and earth resources are obvious entries and the chief value of the database. Small maps require the indexer to make decisions about the value of the entry to potential users, weighing to some degree the time required for entry. When trying to decide if a publication, such as an USGS Circular, has a large enough map to deserve entry in the database, consider if the user would be disappointed to go to some trouble to get the publication and find the map in question. Sketch maps, outline maps, location maps, topographic maps, and page-sized or smaller maps of large areas with little subject information should not be entered in a map database where the user is looking for graphical information. The user can locate the text through other databases. Many site-specific reports have small maps that can lead the reader to important research in a map-defined area, and the indexer can choose to enter the publication. For example, a geochemistry study might have fairly insignificant maps (page-size) that plot sample locations, but would have a wealth of information in tables and text relating to the locations marked on the map. As more maps are included, a database query will bring up a fairly complete list of publications definable as site-specific with easily defined science themes.

Digital databases on disks, the Web, or CD-ROMs present additional problems in selecting for entry into the database. Paper printouts or screen views without the use of special software may not show map format. The file designed to use as a data layer overlaying a GIS produced map may not have map layout, but represent a series of data points. Information on boundary coordinates and scale may not be apparent, especially without special equipment and software. Because of the increasing importance of this location specific information, database managers have decided to include the information on these digital products. The indexer should enter approximate information about coordinates and scale drawn, if necessary, from the title.

To summarize, map entry selection should include these priorities:

  1. Include all publications published primarily as maps.
  2. Include all publications that have a map(s) that convey significant information on the maps themselves.
  3. Include publications, including digital databases, which have significant information in the publication itself (in the form of tables, lists, background information of data points) that is map related or map located.
  4. Include site-specific reports where a map in the report defines the publications area of study and has some science information, even if it is only identifying the location of sample sites.


If a publication contains more than 1 map - should it have more than 1 map catalog entry?

Including coordinates and information for every map accompanying a publication may be desirable but would be a time-consuming process, and might not truly benefit the user who is seeking to find a listing of available publications. The user may or may not be helped by 10 entries for the same publication differentiated by a plate number. Multi-entry records could be confusing and take up excessive time of the indexer.

A) When a publication includes text and maps, use the overall title of the publication not the title that appears on a map, a figure, or a plate. Try to make your citation have the same title and author that a library or Georef cataloger would use to identify the publication. This would be helpful because, in most situations, the user will not be able to locate the publication in a library or purchase from a sales office if they have just the map title instead of the title of the whole publication.

B) However, sometimes a single publication will include a series of chapters, each perhaps containing several maps each with different authorships. In this case, the name of the publication should be cataloged under the "Larger Work" field, and the title and author of each chapter with a map are indexed in the "Title" and "Author" fields. Chapter numbers can be included as annotation in the title -- put this information in brackets at the end of the title to make it easier for the researcher to find, i.e. "[Chapter 7]". The user might need to check the "larger Work" field to find the publication in a library catalog.

An example of a publication with multiple chapters, titles, authors, and themes is:

For all the publications cited above the larger work is: Volcanism in Hawaii, volume 1: USGS professional Paper 1350.

C) In general, where a publication's maps are contiguous, define the bounding coordinates to include all maps. If possible, avoid multiple entries of publications.

When the map of an area includes several plates that can be joined to form a larger map, enter the coordinates of the whole area covered by the mapping. When several plates show the same or contiguous areas but cover different themes, enter a single set of coordinates and enter all themes covered on the plates. Plates for ..."X"... quadrangle, might be "Cross sections of ... quadrangle", "Earthquake hazards of ..., "Areal geology of ..., Structure contours of ..., Water resources of ..., Geochemistry of ..., etc.,

D) Occasionally, publications may include maps of non-contiguous areas making multiple entries the best solution, such as a study of two or more widely separated quadrangles, stream basins, mining districts etc. For these maps, add a brief description of each map area that is indexed using square brackets at the end of each citation. In cases of multiple entries for a publication, the authors, series, and series numbers would be the same but the lat/long, and county information would be different. For example the titles might read:


E) When several plates are included in a single entry, select as the map scale that of the most comprehensive, detailed map, or the map that seems to be the report's focus. The indexer must decide which map primarily gives the information that the author is conveying, but include multiple themes to cover all subjects for all maps in the report.

If you have a publication entitled "mineral resources of the ... area of Montana" with Plate 1 showing mines and deposits of the whole area and Plate 2 providing several small map insets of specific mines, give the coordinates for the area on the first plate.

On the other hand, if a publication includes a very generalized map showing a large area and a detailed map of a specific quadrangle or area named in the overall title, give the coordinates of the more specific area. For example, if you have Plate 1 of a publication showing a very generalized geologic map of Yellowstone National Park and its surroundings, but the title of the publication is "Geology of the ..."X"... Quadrangle, Yellowstone National Park with Plate 2 showing the geologic information for that quadrangle, give the coordinates for Plate 2.


Determining map coverage

Ideally the exact outline of the map coverage would be given with GIS software, but at present, the outline of the map is expressed as coordinates of the farthest points of subject coverage forming a four-sided figure. (See Figure 1). In other words, the smallest virtual rectangle that encompasses the map area is drawn with the sides parallel to north-south and east-west. In many cases, this means the searcher looking for a geologic map of a small defined area may pull up records of maps that have no actual subject coverage for the area of interest.


Mathematical calculations

Mathematical calculations will be needed for such information as:

(1.) extrapolation of latitude and longitude, i.e. calculating degrees when exact numbers at corners are not given but have to be calculated from numbers given at other points of the map

(2.) calculating scale when none is given

(3.) calculating coverage on skewed perspectives, i.e. when the map degrees do not match north and south with top and bottom of the map

(4.) changing to natural scale, i.e. 1:25,000 from miles to inch, etc.

The calculations require a clear understanding of proportion and ratios. Indexers need to do these calculations and, if they can not, need to identify someone with the skills who can teach the skill or do that part of the work.

Contact the USGS indexer, Charles Mayfield ( for special problems in calculations.


General guide for making choices

Keep the user in mind when resolving problems. Strict interpretation of rules assures uniformity, but a unique map or a situation that tests the rule needs to be resolved in favor of making access easier for the user.


Outside contacts

Encourage people with an interest in adding to the database, making their own new database compatible with the map index database, or holding older files which may load into the map index to contact Dave Soller ( There are many maps all needing to be added as quickly as possible and help is appreciated. Be aware that dBase, Paradox, and certain other relational database files may be compatible with the Oracle format and can be substituted without expert programming.


Record Entry

Record entry into the National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB) is done by inputting information derived directly from the publication into an electronic input form.

  1. Obtain a user name and password from Dennis McMacken at or phone 520-556-7104.
  2. Fill in fields given on the form. Editing tips:
  3. When the form is filled out, click on "Submit Form". This will display your completed form to review for errors.
  4. If there are errors, click on "Back to Correct" and make corrections.
  5. If you see no errors click on "Write Data" which sends the completed electronic form to the NGMDB server.
  6. After the data is written to the NGMDB server, the screen will show a 9-digit form number for reference. Make a note of that e-form number.
  7. Usually within a minute or two, an email message will be automatically sent to you showing the e-form you just sent. Receipt of this e-mail shows you that the server received your mail. If you notice any errors, you can reply to the e-mail pointing out what should be changed and referring to the e-form reference number.

Database Fields


Use the full title from map with only first word and proper names are capitalized: "The geologic map of Yosemite National Park and vicinity, California"

When a word may or may not be a proper name or part of a name, check any text on the map other than the title, i.e. "Geologic map of the Big Timber stock and vicinity...". The word "stock" was capitalized in a standard bibliography, but is not capitalized in captions on the map and should not be capitalized in the record entry.

Capitalize directions if part of a proper name but not when used to describe a general area, i.e. Use "South Dakota" and "southern California" or "south Louisiana"

Rely on punctuation used in publication. If there is a problem, look at the samples of references in the USGS Suggestions to authors of reports of the U.S. Geological Survey.

When entering titles, give preference to the title on the map itself for separately published maps and to the title on the titlepage for book publications with maps.

For accuracy, enter the title exactly as given. Do not do creative re-titling. In some cases, exact entry of a title may not convey enough information to the searcher or the given title may contain an obvious error. To solve these kinds of problems while maintaining the integrity of the formal title, the use of square brackets is a common convention in libraries to indicate information not actually on the publication. A word or two in square brackets may occasionally be used to fully clarify subject coverage or the location, e.g. "Rampart and Hot Springs Regions, Alaska [gold resources]" or "The Lander oil field, Fremont County [Wyoming]", to correct a misspelling, e.g. "Oil resources of the Landar [Lander] oil field in Wyoming" or to increase the readability of a title by adding missing words, e.g. "Earthquake history of Napa County [and] potential hazards." Rarely a publication, particularly a digital database, may have no distinguishable title and a title must be composed by the indexer. In these cases, the whole title would be in brackets. Bracketing and adding words not in the title should be done with thought and is not a means to add lengthy subtitles created by the indexer. Where possible, square brackets should be used at the end of the title, so as not to disrupt phrase searches of the title or to disrupt usage as a bibliographic citation.



Enter all authors.

Supply initials, but if only one initial available, give first name.

Give last name first followed by comma and space.

Multiple authors are separated by semicolon and space: "Huger, N.C.; Baseman, P.C.; Wahrhaftig, Clyde"



Give title of larger work capitalizing first word and proper names.

Do not confuse "LARGER WORK" with "SERIES". The "SERIES" field lists the common series for ordering.

The "LARGER WORK" field is used for a more comprehensive series, i.e. "Geology of the Reliz Canyon..."; "Contributions to economic geology" or overall title of a set of individually titled volumes or chapters.



Use standard theme acronyms as given later in this manual. Flagstaff will supply complete name of themes from acronyms.

Type themes using only lower case letters, not capital letters.

Select the abbreviation or acronym for a theme from the thesaurus list using secondary levels only.

Use as many categories as is appropriate, but choose only the most evident. Do not over-index or put in every conceivable acronym. Themes are entered as a help in restricting searches and represent major subjects only. Entries are not intended as an exhaustive list of subjects for each map.

If a map topic does not fit cleanly into one of the ones given in the thesaurus, use "Other" under the appropriate first level. When several similar "Other" entries appear they will be gathered into a new heading. Do not add new "THEMES" or change acronyms for themes without previous approval or the addition will never be searchable.


5. DATE:

Give year of publication as given on map or envelope. When two dates appear give most recent unless second date is identified as a "printing" or "reprint" year and there is no indication of revisions.

For "editions" use date given for the edition of the map being indexed.
      1979, 1984 printing; Give 1979.
      1983, reprinted 1984; Enter 1983
      1st ed. 1983; 2d ed. 1994; Enter 1994
      c1980, 1981; Enter 1981

If the publication has no printed date, do not accept a stamped or handwritten date as correct. Generally these indicate the date the publication is received and not the date of publication. Estimate the date of the publication from the bibliography on the map or any other information available including library catalog records.



Please identify the publisher by the abbreviation or acronym from the official, approved listing of abbreviations for publishers. In the Map Catalog, this field will be linked to the home page of the organization, i.e. the acronym "USGS" will be displayed on the Product Description Page as "U.S. Geological Survey", and the entry will link directly to the USGS home page.

If the publisher of the map record you wish to submit is not on the list of approved publishers, please follow the instructions at the top of that list, in order to supply the Flagstaff programmers with the Publisher's full name, address, Web address if available, and phone number. The Publisher will be verified, you will be notified of the designated publisher acronym (for your use when submitting additional records from that publisher), and the information will be added to the list of publishers.

The publisher is responsible for the intellectual content and may differ from the organization or company responsible for selling or distributing the map which would be listed in the "ORDERING" field. The organization or company identified as "printer" or "printed by" is generally disregarded if different from the publisher.
      "U.S. Geological Survey; distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office"
             Enter: "USGS"

Use acronyms in following section for publishers.



Please identify the Series Name from the official, approved listing of Series Names for each Publisher. If the Series Name of the map record you wish to submit is not on the list of approved publishers and series names, please follow the instructions at the top of that list, in order to supply the Flagstaff programmers with the correct information. The Publisher and Series Name will be verified and the information will be added to the official list.

Enter series with all words except for articles not appearing at the head of the title capitalized as given on publication. When a series ends with an acronym which may often be attached to the number of the map sheet with a dash, add acronym to "SERIES NUMBER" field, i.e."Miscellaneous Geologic Investigations Map I-430". Give "Miscellaneous.....Map" in this field and add "I-430" to "SERIES NUMBER" field.

See Appendix A for standard titles of U.S. Geological Survey Series maps.



Separate number from series. Include any acronyms or letters before or after number with dashes. i.e."GQ-768"; "MF-1733-A"; "257-A".



Enter second part of ratio(or fraction ) without commas, i.e., "1:125,000", enter as "125000".

Give pure ratio numbers based on one. Many maps, particularly older ones, give equivalents based on other measurements, i.e., "1 inch = 1 mile"; "1 inch=2500 feet". These two scales in natural scale would be "1:63,360" and "1:30,000" and entered as "63360" and "30000". Below are example map scales; other scales will need to be calculated.

Map Scale on Map ---> Natural or Standard Scale

1 in. = 50 miles ---> 1:3,168,000
1 in. = 40 miles (approximate) ---> 1:2,500,000
1 in. = 16 miles (approximate) ---> 1:1,000,000
1 in. = 8 miles (approximate) ---> 1:500,000
1 in. = 4 miles (approximate) ---> 1:250,000
1 in. = 2 miles (approximate) ---> 1:125,000
1 in. = 1 mile ---> 1:63,360
1 in. = 1 mile (approximate) ---> 1:62,500
1 in. = 0.5 mile ---> 1:31,680
1 in. = 2,500 feet ---> 1:30,000
1 in. = 2000 feet ---> 1:24,000
1 cm. = 1.00 km ---> 1:100,000
1 cm. = 0.50 km ---> 1:50,000
1 cm. = 0.25 km ---> 1:25,000
1 cm. = 0.20 km ---> 1:20,000
(From Thompson, M.M., 1988, Maps for America (3rd ed.))

Some digital maps and databases are variable when projected on a monitor or printed on a plotter. In such cases, enter the compilation scale of the map if given in the text. If no compilation scale is given, the scale should be entered on the electronic form as "N" for Not Applicable.



Indexers not familiar with cross sections should look at the examples in Figures 2-8 [fig. 2 -- fig. 3 -- fig. 4 -- fig. 5 -- fig. 6 -- fig. 7 -- fig. 8]. Another general criterion is that, although graphs, models, and diagrams may look similar to cross sections, a cross section can be identified geographically in the map area. The other graphic presentations generally present concepts based on interpretations of one aspect of the map data in a visual and more quickly understandable format and are usually not linked to a single small area on the map.

Identify if the map or text has cross-sections and answer N for No and Y for Yes.

Count only cross-sections related to the major area mapped, i.e., if a map on mineral resources of Alpine County has a cross-section within the county, answer "Y". Answer "N" if there are cross-sections for a different area than covered by the major part of the publication, i.e. a small cross section of a mine when the geologic map covers a quadrangle.


11. State Geologic Map?:

Geologic maps that cover a state, or more than one state, or the entire U.S. or North America are identified by the value "Y" in the database field "state geologic map". All other maps have value "N" or have no value specified. This database field is used on the "State-Wide Map" search page. Maps coded as "Y" also are available to other Map Catalog searches (e.g., the Comprehensive Search).


12. MEDIA (Publication Format):

A product can be published in "Paper" and / or "Digital" format. If the product is available in both paper and a digital format, use the term "Both". If the format is "Digital" or "Both", the following additional information is needed:

  1. the URL to the location where the product can be viewed and, if possible, downloaded. If the digital publication is available only on a physical media such as CDROM, then no URL would be supplied; the NGMDB Input Form allows you to specify this option (e.g., "Digital, no URL for this product").
    [NOTE: It is preferable to specify a URL that is uniquely designed for that particular product; ideally, it would provide the product title, a brief description of the contents, and links to downloadable documents and data. However in certain cases, many products are served from within the same directory and each is available to the public only as a single downloadable file (e.g., "document.pdf", or ""). If this is the case, please notify us (at, and also tell us the file size -- we then will make the proper notation in the Map Catalog, in order to provide a warning to the user that a direct download will result if the link is selected.]
  2. the URL to the location where product metadata can be found, ONLY IF the metadata is managed separately from the product. For example, certain USGS maps are served on the USGS Publications Server whereas the metadata is served on the USGS NSDI node.
  3. the data format. These are: The NGMDB Map Catalog only provides for specifying ONE product format. Therefore, based on relative useability of the various file formats, we follow this logic:
    1. if the product contains an ARC file, specify that format.
    2. if not, but it contains another spatial data format, so specify.
    3. if not, but it contains a PDF file, so specify.
    4. if the product contains neither a spatial data file or a PDF file, specify one of the five remaining formats (i.e., DjVu, MrSID, IMG, HTML, or ?).



Include all counties (and their state) covered by map. List the counties in alphabetical order, using the format "county, state", and use the 2-character abbreviation for "state" (see STATE discussion, below). Separate each county/state pair by a semicolon and space.

If the map covers several counties but barely enters one county, that county may be omitted. When in doubt whether coverage within county is enough to be included, prefer to enter county.

When a map covers all of a state enter as: "All [state acronym] Counties" i.e. "All CA Counties".

When a map covers all U.S. states, enter as "All US Counties". When a map covers the conterminous U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), enter as "All Conterm.US Counties". If a map is so small scale as to be insignificant at the county level of inquiry, leave this field blank. Remember, if you include either "All US Counties" or "All Conterm.US Counties", the map reference likely will appear on a county search.

If two or more states are covered, enter states separated by a semicolon and a space, i.e. for Illinois and Missouri, enter "All IL Counties; All MO Counties".

In some cases, such as a coast-to-coast cross section when the number of counties is huge, the map is of a small scale, and no state has all of its counties included, the indexer may choose not to enter in this field since the coverage is too general to be of great interest to a user seeking information on a single county. A computer program can add counties if all of a state or several states are included without the intervention of the indexer. But a map covering parts of 20 states may include many, many counties requiring careful identification by the indexer and many entries to type. In general, the counties of such maps when the scale is 1:250,000 or smaller (less detail) are omitted.

Correct spellings for the counties of each state are identified in: "National Computer Systems Laboratory (U.S.), 1990, Counties and equivalent entities of the United States, its possessions and associated areas: Federal information processing standards publication, FIPS PUB 6-4. 31 p."

Alaska does not have a county system of administration. Administrative areas or boroughs have only recently been added and their boundaries are subject to change. At the beginning of the NGMDB project, the four senatorial district boundaries were used for catalog entries, but discussion with Alaska experts suggested that, for better indexing results, we should use the 1:250,000-scale quadrangles. These quadrangles are now used for Alaska in the "COUNTY" field.


14. STATE:

Enter all states covered by a map in alphabetical order using postal service two-letter capital abbreviations, i.e. CA. Flagstaff will supply full name of state from the abbreviation.

If the map covers all of the United States enter as "ALL". If conterminous U.S. states only are included (not Hawaii or Alaska), enter as "ALL Conterm.US".

If conterminous U.S. states plus either Hawaii or Alaska, enter as "ALL Conterm. US; AK" from spellings on names used in the FIPS PUB 6-4 referenced above.

State abbreviations -- All states are abbreviated according to standardized postal two letter abbreviations found in the almanacs, phone books, and postal directories:
Alabama (AL); Alaska (AK); American Samoa (AS); Arizona (AZ); Arkansas (AR); California (CA); Colorado (CO); Connecticut (CT); Delaware (DE); Dist. of Columbia (DC); Fed. States of Micronesia (FM); Florida (FL); Georgia (GA); Guam (GU); Hawaii (HI); Idaho (ID); Illinois (IL); Indiana (IN); Iowa (IA); Kansas (KS); Kentucky (KY); Louisiana (LA); Maine (ME); Maryland (MD); Massachusetts (MA); Michigan (MI); Minnesota (MN); Mississippi (MS), Missouri (MO); Montana (MT); Nebraska (NE); Nevada (NV); New Hampshire (NH); New Jersey (NJ); New Mexico (NM); New York (NY); North Carolina (NC); North Dakota (ND); Northern Marianas (MP); Ohio (OH); Oklahoma (OK); Oregon (OR); Pennsylvania (PA); Puerto Rico (PR); Rhode Island (RI); South Carolina (SC); South Dakota (SD); Tennessee (TN); Texas (TX); Utah (UT); Vermont (VT); Virginia (VA); Virgin Islands (VI); Washington (WA); West Virginia (WV); Wisconsin (WI); Wyoming (WY)



Enter latitude in 6 digits and longitude in 7 digits. Add 0's when needed to complete entry. W for latitude and N for longitude should be automatically added, i.e. "0973745W"..

Accuracy here is crucial. Measure and calculate when not given on map.

If map has considerable area not covered by subject matter, i.e. parts of map with no coloring or information, report latitude and longitude of the actual coverage of subject matter not the coordinates of the whole map (see Figure 9).

These fields will be translated to decimal degrees in Flagstaff.



The publisher is responsible for the intellectual content of the publication. In some cases, the publisher does not sell or distribute the map; for this reason, we include an Ordering Contact data-field. Please note that the organization or company identified as "printer" or "printed by" is generally not the Ordering Contact.

Please identify the Ordering Contact by the abbreviation or acronym from the official, approved listing. In the Map Catalog, this field will be linked to the home page of the organization that distributes the product, i.e. the acronym "USGS" will be displayed on the Product Description Page as "U.S. Geological Survey", and the entry will link directly to the USGS home page.

If the Ordering Contact of the map record you wish to submit is not on the list of approved contacts, please follow the instructions at the top of that list, in order to supply the Flagstaff programmers with the Ordering Contact's full name, address, Web address if available, and phone number. The Ordering Contact will be verified, you will be notified of the designated acronym (for your use when submitting additional records for that sales agency or distributor), and the information will be added to the list of Ordering Contacts.



Enter GPO numbers, stock nos., ISBN, and other information used by sales agency to uniquely identify product if different from the number given in SERIES NUMBER.


Listing of APPROVED Publishers, Publisher Acronyms, Series Names, and Order Contacts

We now maintain a listing of ALL Publishers, Publisher Acronyms, Series Names, and Order Contacts that can be used in the Map Catalog. This listing is intended to simplify the management of, and access to, map catalog records. When using the Map Catalog Input Form, no other publishers and their series names can be directly entered into the database. However, the Input Form contains a mechanism to submit for authenticating a new publisher and its series names (please see the Input Form's "Publisher" pulldown menu, and select the "Not on List" entry). When we receive that submittal, we will verify it and add the information to this listing. If you submit records via a batch file, or if the publisher occurs in our list but via the Input Form you submit a new series name, we also will verify the information and add it to our listing.

Here are the listings:


Themes: Abbreviations and Thesaurus

Geochronology (geochron) -- Isotopic age estimates, shown on a map or spatially referenced in a data base
Paleontology (paleo) -- Fossil localities, descriptions and ages, shown on a map or spatially referenced in a data base
Geochemistry (geochem) -- Geochemical analysis shown on a map or spatially referenced in a data base

Bedrock (geolgenbed) -- Bedrock geologic map
Surficial (geolgensur) -- Surficial geologic map
Structure contours (geolstruc) -- Maps of structure or thickness of buried geologic units (see Figure 10)
Engineering (geoleng) -- Maps of soils or engineering properties of buried geologic units
Other (geolother) -- Other assorted map information

Magnetics (geopmag) -- Maps of the magnetic field induced in rocks
Gravity (geopgrav) -- Maps of variations in Earth's gravity field
Radiometric (geoprad) -- Maps of natural radioactivity of rocks and soil
Other (geopother) -- Other assorted geophysical information

Marine Geology
Geophysics (margeop) -- Geophysical maps of submerged rocks and sediment
Coastal (margcoast) -- Maps of the coastal zone (e.g. areas of erosion or sedimentation)
GLORIA: (margloria) -- Images of the ocean floor as detected by the GLORIA surveys
Other (marother) -- Other assorted marine information

Metals (resmet) -- Maps of metallic resource (e.g. copper)
Nonmetals (resnonmet) -- Maps of non-metallic resources (e.g. sand and gravel)
Petroleum (resergpet) -- Petroleum-related map (oil, gas, oil shale, tar sands, etc.)
Coal (resergcoal) -- Map showing coal deposits
Other energy resources that are not coal or petroleum (resergother) -- Map of
    energy resources that does not include petroleum or coal
Water (reswat) -- Maps of ground water aquifers, water quality, etc.
Other (resother) -- Other assorted map information (e.g. geothermal resources)

Earthquakes (hazeq) -- Maps related to earthquake hazards (e.g. faults, earthquake zones)
Volcanoes (hazvolc) -- Maps related to volcano hazards (e.g. eruption history)
Landslides (hazland) -- Maps of existing landslides or landslide potential
Environmental (hazenvir) -- Maps specifically noting environmental hazards
Other (hazother) -- Various hazards, not restricted to a single hazard

Keywords in titles that help to identify themes:


Geochronology (geochron) Age determination of
Isotope geochronology
Potassium-argon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiometric dating

Paleontology (paleo) Fossil plants, Fossil animals, Fossil record, Micropaleontology,
Conodonts, Calcareous microfossils, Foraminifera, Radiolarians, Ostracods, etc.
Pollen record
Fossil spores
Trace fossils

Geochemistry (geochem)Geochemical anomaly of
Geochemical analysis of
Chemical analysis of, Chemical composition
Phase equilibrium
Isotope geochemistry, Igneous and metamorphic geochemistry
Determinative geochemistry Petrologic composition
Bedrock and/or Surficial

NOTE: Keywords (to right) might be insufficient to assign a map to a category. After inspection, the map may be assigned to geolgenbed and/or geolgensur.

Areal geology of
General geology of
Geologic map of
Lithology, lithofacies
Paleogeography of
Preliminary geologic map of
Reconnaissance geologic
Stratigraphy of
Tectonics of
Thrust tectonics of
Bedrock (geolgenbed) Bedrock geologic map of
Petrofacies of
Petrology of
Structural geology
Arc deposits
Island arcs
Precambrian geology of
GeologySurficial (geolgensur) Glacial deposits of
Surficial geologic map of
Quaternary geologic map of
Drift deposits
GeologyStructure contours (geolstruc)Structure contours of
Structure of
Thickness of
Depth to bedrock
Basement map
GeologyEngineering (geoleng)Engineering geology of
Engineering properties of
Environmental geology of
Military geology of
Geology for planning
Rock mechanics
Soil mechanics of
Urban geology of
Geotechnical properties of
(can also mean hazards, see below)
Nuclear reactor or Power plant siting
GeologyOther (geolother)
GeophysicsMagnetics (geopmag)Aeromagnetic
Filtered magnetic
Isoclinic line
Isodynamic line
Isogonic line
Magnetic anomaly
Magnetic declination
Magnetic inclination
Remanent magnetism
Gravity (geopgrav)Bouguer gravity
Free-air anomaly
Gravity field
Gravity potential
Isanomalic map
Isogal map
Isogram map
Isostatic anomaly
GeophysicsRadiometric (geoprad)Aeroradioactivity map
Natural radioactivity of
GeophysicsOther (geopother)
Marine Geology
Geophysics (margeop)Marine geophysics
Marine GeologyCoastal (margcoast)Coastal erosion along
Coastal changes of
Marine GeologyGloria (margloria)
Marine GeologyOther (marother)Seabed composition or materials
ResourcesMetals (resmet)Economic geology of
Mineral resources of
Mineral deposits of
Mines of
Prospects of
Resource appraisal of, Assessment of
Metals (actinide series, alkali metals, aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, bismuth, cadmium, calcium, cerium, cesium, chromium, cobalt, columbium, copper, dysprosium, erbium, europium, francium, gallium, germanium, hafnium, gold, indium, iridium, iron, lanthanide series, lead, lithium, magnesium, magnetite, manganese, marble, mercury, metal ores, molybdenum, nickel, niobium, osmium, palladium, platinum, plutonium, protactinium, potassium, precious metals, quicksilver, radium, rare earth metals, rhenium, rhodium, rubidium, ruthenium, scandium, silver, sodium, steel, strontium, tantalum, technetium, thallium, thorium, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, wolfram, yttrium, zinc, zirconium, etc.)
Strategic metals of
ResourcesNonmetals (resnonmet)Resource assessment of
Economic geology of
Mineral resources of
Mineral deposits of
Mines of
Prospects of
Resource appraisal of
Strategic minerals
Nonmetals (Abrasive materials, actinolite, agate, aggregates, alum, alunite, amber, amphiboles, apatite, argon, arsenic, asbestos, astatine, bauxite, bentonite, barites, biotite, boron, brick, bromine, building stone, carbonates, cement, ceramic materials, chlorine, chrysotile, clay, clay products, concrete, conglomerates, corundum, diamonds, diatomite, dolomite, emerald, emery, feldspar, fertilizers, fluorine, fluorite, fluorspar, fuller's earth, garnet, gems, gemstones, glass, granite, gravel, gypsum, halogens, helium, hydrogen, illite, iodine, inert gases, jade, kaolin, krypton, kyanite, laterite, lepidolite, lime, limestone, marble, margarite, mica, mineral paints, micaceous minerals, monazite, muscovite, onyx, neon, nitrates, nitrogen, ochre, opal, ornamental stone, oxygen, paragonite, pearls, phosphates, phosphorus, pigments, potash, potter's clay, potter's earth, pottery materials, porcelain, precious stones, pumice, quartz, quartzite, radon, refractory materials, ruby, salt, sand, sapphire, selenium, serpentinite, silicates, silicon, slate, smectite, soapstone, talc, tellurium, tripolite, vermiculite, volcanic ash, xenon, zeolite)

Energy (resenergy)Energy resources of
Economic geology of
Fuel resources of
Mineral resources of
Mineral deposits of
Mines of
Prospects of
Fuels of

Petroleum (resergpet)
Map of fuel oil, natural gas, oil, oil shales, petroleum, oil wells, oilfields, shale, tar sands
Coal (resergcoal)
Coal resources of
Anthracite coal resources of
Bituminous coal resources of
Coal mines of
Other energy resources
Uranium resources of
Radioactive energy resources of
Geothermal resources map of
Hot springs maps of
Peat resources of
ResourcesWater (reswat)Artesan wells
Ground water resources
Hydrogeologic map of
Hydrologic resources
Hydrology of
Lakes of
Mineral waters of
Water resources of
Water wells of
ResourcesOther (resother)Geothermal map of
Hot springs
Land use
HazardsEarthquakes (hazeq)Earthquake hazards map
Ground acceleration
Liquefaction potential
Earthquake zones
Microseismic regions
Fault map (This is as hazards not maps of faults as structural forms)
Seismic or seismology
(beware of confusing with seismic prospecting methods and seismic wave measurements )
Seismic hazards of
Seismicity of
Active faults of
Seismic ground response
HazardsVolcanoes (hazvolc)Lava flows
Volcanic hazards
Historic eruptions
Eruptive history
Ash fall pattern
Landslides (hazland)Debris flows
Mass movement
Landslide potential
Slope stability
HazardsEnvironmental (hazenvir)Contamination of
Environmental geology of
(Can also mean engineering geology, see above)
Environmental impact of
Pollution of
Reclamation of
Waste disposal
Nuclear plant hazards
Subsurface repositories
Other (hazother)Flooding
Salt-water intrusion
Storm damage of
Land subsidence
Swelling clays
Toxic waste disposal
Contaminated groundwater
Mine and tunnel failures



Database Titles for Standard USGS Series

General Rule: Use singular form except for the words "Water-Resources", "Studies", and "Investigations". Capitalize first letters of all words. Use dashes with "Open-File", "Water-Resources", and "Water-Supply".

The I-maps and the MF-maps are consistently numbered, but the series name often varies. It is more important to retain the designation I or MF linked to the number in these two series than it is for other series.



DDS = Digital Data Series

GF = Geologic Atlas of the United States Folio
(This series is commonly called Geologic Folios, but the selected name above is used in the database)

GP = no.1-5, 1945-1946 Geophysical Investigations Preliminary Map

GQ = Geologic Quadrangle Map

HA = Hydrologic Investigations Atlas

HU = Hydrologic Unit Map

I = 1+ 1954-1973, Miscellaneous Geologic Investigations Map
No. 800+ , smaller issue numbers published 1974-1996 [no clear-cut division]
Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map
(Don't use Miscellaneous Investigations Map)
August, 1996 + Geologic Investigations Map

MF = no. 1-306, 1950-1973, Mineral Investigations Field Studies Map
no. 307+, 1971+ Miscellaneous Field Studies Map


MR = Mineral Investigations Resource Map

OC = no.1-39, 1944-1950, Oil and Gas Investigations Preliminary Chart
no. 40+, 1950+ Oil and Gas Investigations Chart

OM = no. 1-109, 1943-1950, Oil and Gas Investigations Preliminary Map
no. 110+, 1950+ , Oil and Gas Investigations Map

PP = Professional Paper

WRI = 1972-1982 Water-Resources Investigations
1983- Water-Resources Investigations Report
(Do not use Water-Resources Investigations Open-File Report or Water-Resources Investigation Report)

WSP = no.1-214, 1896-1907, Water-Supply and Irrigation Paper
no. 215- Water-Supply Paper



Example records from online entry form

As noted in the manual above, a map's bibliographic information may be entered into the NGMDB map catalog by either of two mechanisms: 1) a properly formatted file, and 2) the online entry form. For submittal of large number of records, the file method may be preferred, whereas the online entry form is useful for submitting records one at a time. Instructions on file format and procedure for using the online entry form are available at the NGMDB map catalog information Web site,

The following are examples of USGS maps entered using the data input form:

This page is
Manual maintained by Chuck Mayfield and Dave Soller
Page maintained by Dave Soller (
last update: Dec. 6, 2007