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Geoliteracy Tools for Arizona Educators: Digital Maps & Map Services

Article Author(s): 

Michael Conway

Map Products and Services

State and federal agencies and digital entrepreneurs serve up map services and terabytes of free digital map data. At the same time, tools for map analysis are becoming more commonplace and easier to use. Here we shine a spotlight on some of the richer digital map and map service providers, with an emphasis on those that serve Arizona map products. Note: This is not an exhaustive list; our goal was to finger major map products and service providers for Arizona.

For more on geoliteracy in America, see our related article, Geoliteracy in America: A brief note.

Federal Agency Map Product/Service Providers

State Agency Map Product/Service Providers

Entrepreneurial Map Services

US Geological SurveyU.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Volume of Digital Maps – 1000s

Map types – Topographic maps / Geologic Maps / Others

Map Format – PDF, GeoPDF, MrSID, GeoTiff

Common Map Scales – 1:24,000, 62,500; 100,000; 125,000; 250,000

USGS Map Locater and Downloader. For over 125 years, the USGS has served up topographic and geologic maps. Current and beta topographic maps are hosted at the USGS Map Locater and Downloader; including more than 2000 digital topographic maps for Arizona. The newest USGS map product is a digital topographic map with an aerial photographic (orthophoto) base. As with earlier paper topographic maps, contour lines, roads, rivers, and cultural information are superposed on the topographic base.

USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection. 200,000+ legacy maps, from 1884 to 2006, and most are now available digitally. As of 10 December 2011, USGS was serving more than 5,000 historic topographic maps for Arizona. Maps are in high resolution (600 DPI) GeoPDF format.

USGS National Atlas Web Map Service. The National Map provides teachers and students the opportunity to configure their own maps using National Atlas map data, which includes 2,400 thematic layers. GIS users can load geospatial data directly into ArcGIS. For others, and that includes most of us, you can bring the data into Google Earth, a free map service provided by Google (Google Earth 6.), or you can produce a custom map in the National Map Viewer window.

This extraordinary map service with volumes of thematic map data limits you only by the extent of your imagination or time.

USGS National Geologic Map Database. NGMDB cites more than 85,000 geologic maps, map-related products, images, and more, from 350 publishers. Not all citations carry links to digital maps, but many do. Perhaps the single best place to start exploring for digital geologic maps.

Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS) “A collection of reports describing metallic and nonmetallic mineral resources throughout the world. Included are deposit name, location, commodity, deposit description, geologic characteristics, production, reserves, resources, and references."

Chief, Geologic Extension Service
AZ Geological Survey

Visit the Arizona Experience Store
Visit the Arizona Experience Store
AZGS Digital Document Repository
AZGS Earth Fissure Viewer
State Geothermal