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The British Geological Survey Rock Classification System

In 1999 the British Geological Survey published the world's first strictly hierarchical Rock Classification System.  It was specifically designed to aid in computer mapping applications

Unfortunately, until the release of LegendBurster, there were no GIS systems which could capitalise on this important development.

The LegendBurster system, however, changes this situation forever, making it easy to incorporate the BGS Rock Classification System, or any other hierarchical classification system, into the analysis of geological data, and the production of geological maps.

LegendBurster's tools for re-attributing maps make it easy to translate any map's original rock-type attributes into the BGS system  -  provided that the map's original terminology is properly documented.  The BGS RCS may be downloaded in a format ready for import into LegendBurster from Georeference Online Ltd's TreeList Editor web pages.

Even when original terminologies are not well documented, easy access to high level terms in the BGS RCS makes it an ideal framework within which to generalise, and within which to manage the problems of integrating many maps into one map, or the work of many mappers onto one map.

Since LegendBurster is built around the universally recognised ESRI shapefile, almost any GIS data set is within its reach.  Since LegendBurster does not require an ArcView licence, it is a cost-effective solution to users of GIS systems other than ArcView.

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Using Hierarchical Structure to add Value to Maps

Hierarchically-structured attributes are difficult to manage in the relational database environment of most GIS systems.

For queries to be possible at different levels in a hierarchy, an additional field has to be added to the map's attribute table for each possible level in the hierarchy.  Populating and maintaining all these fields is time consuming, expensive, and usually fraught with errors.

The semantic net structures used in LegendBurster lend themselves to efficient implementation of hierarchical relationships.

The Geology of Cornwall

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individual polygons of this map
[0.7Mb image - High Speed Best]

As an example, both of the maps shown above were derived from the same single attribute.  The "Detail" map resulted from a conventional "unique values" shading, in ArcView, of the map on rock-type.  The "Overview" map was produced in ArcView by combining the results of three single-value LegendBurster queries (rock-type = "igneous", then "metamorphic", and then "sedimentary"). In each case, the LegendBurster system was able to consolidate all igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary rocks into the query result by referencing the hierarchy to determine what class each "detailed" rock-type belonged to.

While it is important to capture as much detail as possible on most maps, very often the most valuable renditions of that detail are at a more general level.  LegendBurster, together with with the BGS Rock Classification System, provides this essential mapping capability to geologists working with bedrock and surficial geology.


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Last modified: 03/29/08.