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A Guide to Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS)

This guide points to selected resources in the area of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS). Information about Washington University and its libraries is also found here.


Printed maps in the EPS Library are for library use only and are mostly housed in map cases. Various types of maps are available; most of our maps are published by the government and issued to libraries as a part of the Depository Library Program. They are issued by the United States Geological Survey and you can consult the USGS National Mapping Information to learn more. A brief listing of some of the more common types of maps found in the library is given below; please remember that maps are for library use only.


Topographic maps are the most common type of map; they show topography and relief of a particular area of land. These maps normally cover a single 7.5′ by 7.5′ quadrangle (scale of 1:24,000), but 7.5′ by 15′ (1:25,000), 15′ quadrangle (1:62,500), and selected county maps are also available. Note: most but not all of the conterminous United States is covered by 7.5′ quad maps; in some cases coverage is provided only by 15′ quadrangles. USGS catalogs are available to determine what types of map coverage are available for what localities. Please consult a librarian if you have any questions.

The library houses a complete collection of topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey. Maps published by the government after 1976 are listed in the online catalog.

Topographic-bathymetric maps are available for certain quadrangles that include lake or ocean coastline; in addition to showing elevation contours and terrain features on land, these maps show depth contours of water-covered areas.

Base maps provide information only about political boundaries and major physical and cultural features.

Geologic maps depict the various geologic provinces and stratigraphic facies on an area; these maps usually show either countries or individual states.

Other kinds of maps are also available: base maps from the Defense Mapping Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, city and state road map series from Rand McNally, orthophotoquad and satellite image maps, and a wide variety of maps and atlases showing information on mineral resources, water resources, land use, and demographics. Please ask for assistance in finding a map.

Departmental Theses/Dissertations

Honors theses, master’s theses, and doctoral dissertations written by students of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences from 1918 to the present are shelved in the library. Please ask for assistance in retrieving a thesis. Theses are arranged in alphabetical order by author. A list of theses is available; it can be searched by author, subject, geographic area, or year. Please note that theses are for library use only; a thesis can circulate only if there are multiple copies available in the Olin library system.

State Geological Survey Documents

State documents in the EPS Library are shelved in order by Library of Congress call number; the call number for all state documents begins with QE2 and contains a series of additional codes which are explained below.

Here is an example of a state document:

Caves of New Jersey

And here is its call number:

QE2 N5.G2:70

What does this number mean?
QE2 simply indicates that this is a state document.
N5 indicates the first letter and alphabetical ranking of the state of issue, in this case New Jersey.
G2 indicates the specific type of document, in this case a bulletin of the New Jersey Geological Survey. Note: a listing of these document-types is available for each state; please consult the librarian.
70 simply indicates the number of the specific document. In this case the document is New Jersey Geological Survey Bulletin 70.

How do I find this document on the shelf?

State documents are first arranged by state code, in alphabetical and then numerical order.

QE2 I2.G9S: 1
is shelved before
QE2 N5.G2: 70

State documents from a given state are then arranged according to the document-type code, in alphabetical and then numerical order.

QE2 N5.G2: 70
is shelved before
QE2 N5.G4: 3

State documents of a given type are then arranged in order according to document number.

QE2 N5.G4: 43
is shelved before
QE2 N5.G4: 70

How Do I Find a Government Document

  • Look in the Library Catalog. Documents in our collections that were produced after 1976 are cataloged, right along with all of our other books, journals, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other materials! The catalog will also list many (but not all) publications from before 1976.

  • You can also check a database called Catalog of U.S. Government Publications . Like our catalog, this database only lists publications after 1976. You can use it to find publications of interest that we may not have in our collections.

  • Documents are stored at the West Campus Library. They have produced this helpful Page as a locator tool for the government documents collections which have not been cataloged.

  • You can find a list of SuDocs numbers and the agencies they represent Here.

  • Two other favorite online sources for government information are ProQuest Congressional for a vast array of legislative information and ProQuest Statistical Abstract, a great locator for statistical information from the government as well as other sources.