National Geologic Map Database

In 2014-2015, this database design was extensively reviewed and test-implemented by members of the U.S. Geological Survey and the State Geological Surveys. During this process, certain modifications and clarifications were identified. Revisions to the schema have been completed, and publication in early 2018 is anticipated. At that time, the schema will be renamed as "GeMS" (Geologic Map Schema). Questions or comments may be directed here.

  • NCGMP09 v. 1.1 — .zip file [4.6 MB] containing documentation, standard vocabulary, ESRI style file, and toolbox (for Arc 10.1 only). [NOTE: Current version of NCGMP09 is 1.1, released November, 27, 2010. Minor updates to text, February 25, 2011. Updated with Toolbox (scripts) for Arc 10, May 23, 2016.]

  • Readme file
  • Documentation of NCGMP09 design (from DMT'09 Proceedings)
  • NCGMP09v1_Toolbox3b.zip — Toolbox of ArcGIS scripts for working with NCGMP09 schema
  • GeneralLithology_1-1.xls — Terms, definitions, and hierarchy key
  • NCGMP09_ERdiagrams-Fig2.zip
  • Archive of previous versions and presentations
  • Progress Report on the evaluation and implementation of NCGMP09 (Sept. 25, 2013)


Examples published in NCGMP09 format:


NCGMP09 is the standard format for geologic map publications funded by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). It is a database design for encoding content analogous to that contained in a traditional geologic map published by the USGS and by state geological surveys. It stipulates an ESRI database format in order to adhere to USGS policy and because this is the GIS most commonly used in the USGS, in the state geological surveys, and in the larger community.

NCGMP09 was introduced at the Digital Mapping Techniques '09 meeting (May, 2009), as version 0.8.2, in order to solicit preliminary comments and testing. Version 1.0 was released October 14, 2009, for presentation at the Geological Society of America's Annual Meeting. In the months following, more extensive evaluations were received, and in response the design evolved. The revised version, as published in the DMT'09 Proceedings and available above, reflects the current manifestation of NCGMP09 (version 1.1). During that timeframe, NCGMP09 development was supported by the USGS/AASG National Geologic Map Database Project and the USGS Pacific Northwest Geologic Mapping Project (Ralph Haugerud, Stephen Richard, David Soller, and Evan Thoms). Since then, implementation and potential revisions or enhancements to NCGMP09 have been conducted by a wider group of colleagues (see Progress Report of Sept. 25, 2013). This database design will evolve over time, in response to the needs of users and geologic mappers, and to advances in technology. If you're interested in evaluating and helping to guide further development of NCGMP09 so that together we can improve the database design, the documentation that explains it, and the tools and templates that facilitate its use, please contact the coordinators of this effort.

The NCGMP09 design is an outcome of more than a decade's work among numerous individuals and projects, in NCGMP and in other programs and in many agencies. In particular, during this period the National Geologic Map Database project (NGMDB) has been charged under the Geologic Mapping Act to support the development of geologic map standards and guidelines. Throughout this time, it has been clear that there is no single "right" approach, that database needs vary from project to project, and these needs may contrast markedly with the long-term requirements for the national database. This design, as noted, is intended to address the needs of geologic mapping projects particularly for data delivery, and so we seek consensus on a design that meets those needs.

Regarding availability and maintenance of this database design, under the authority of the Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 (and subsequent reauthorizations), the National Geologic Map Database project will function on behalf of the NCGMP as coordinator of database design changes and maintenance. This activity will be conducted in cooperation with NCGMP projects and other identified stakeholders (e.g., the Association of American State Geologists).

Archive of previous versions and presentations