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GIS Data and Resources

This guide provides geospatial data sources and citation guidance for use with GIS

USGS Topographic Maps

You can download copies of digitized USGS topological maps from the USGS website.

1. Go to the USGS Store

2. On the righthand side of the page, under Topo Maps, click on download to access the Map Locator.

3. Search for your area of interest, either by typing in a place name or zooming in and clicking on an area on the map.  For example, search for "St. Louis".

4. Add a red marker to the area of interest by clicking on the map.

5. Click on the red marker to see a pop-up showing available maps for that area.  Oftentimes there will be a few options, which correspond to the paper USGS topographic map series (7.5x7.5, 30x60. etc).  You can also see what year the map was created in.

6. Click download to download a zipped file to your computer.

7. Unzip and view.  The file format is a GeoPDF, which contain can be viewed in Adobe Acrobat.

Maps in Olin Library

Olin Library houses a large collection of many different types of maps.  The collection consists primarily of maps distributed through the Federal Library Depository Program and are issued by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).  Maps from state geological surveys and commercial publishers are also included in the collection.  Most maps published after 1976 are searchable in the Library catalog except for most thematic maps.

A brief description of some of the types of maps follows.

7.5” topographic maps and 15” topographic maps:

Topographic maps are the most common type of map; they show topography and relief of a particular area of land.  These maps can cover a single 7.5” by 7.5” quadrangle (scale of 1:24,000), a 7.5” by 15” (scale of 1:25,000), a 15' quadrangle (scale of 1:62,500), and selected county maps.  Most but not all of the conterminous United States is covered by 7.5” quadrangle 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. USGS topographic maps are also available for download here.

Geologic and shaded relief maps

The Earth and Planetary Sciences Library collects geologic and shaded relief maps for areas across the country and throughout the world.  The areas covered and scales of the maps vary.  Shaded relief and geologic maps can be located by searching the library catalog and the publication catalog from the state geological survey offices. Detailed geologic maps for most states can be found in the State Geological Survey Publications Collection.     

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maps

Base maps and some shaded relief maps produced by the CIA are usually on an 8 ½” x 11” sheet or an 11” x 17” sheet and cover various regions around the world.  The maps are also available online.  Please note that some of the maps can be viewed online and printed but cannot be downloaded.  CIA maps can be located by searching the library catalog

Maps in Soil Surveys:  Produced by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, soil surveys are compiled for various counties across the United States.  The EPSc Library holdings include soil surveys for counties in Missouri and Illinois.  Olin Library has soil surveys for counties in states other than Missouri and Illinois, which can be located by using the Library catalog.