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Geology LibreTexts

2.6: Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A geographic information system (GIS) is a suite of map layers or ‘themes’ that are all georeferenced to the same location on earth, and their associated tabular spreadsheet data. A GIS is a map, a spreadsheet and an information management system all rolled into one. Conduct an internet search for a common rendition of a GIS. The map layers of a GIS are all stacked on top of one another in the computer, allowing the user to query all the layers at once. GIS are used in numerous professional fields, including Geography, Archaeology, Biology, Business, Forestry, Geology, Emergency Management and Law Enforcement.

The best way to experience GIS is to experiment with a GIS. Go to Ice Maps , at the UC Davis Information Center for the environment. Start out by selecting several layers to view. Some suggested combinations are listed below. Look at the legend, zoom in and out and pan around the state then discuss the following prompt in the DC.

Suggested theme combinations:

  • Shaded Relief, Major California Rivers, Lakes, Jurisdictional Dams, Non Jurisdictional Dams
  • Shaded Relief, Major Cities, State Highways, Federal Highways, Proposed Significant Natural Areas

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