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National Geospatial Technical Operations Center



The U.S. Geological Survey National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) provides leadership and world-class technical expertise in the acquisition and management of trusted geospatial data, services, and map products for the Nation. NGTOC supports The National Map as part of the National Geospatial Program.

NGTOC News and Highlights             News Archive
April 2, 2015

US Topo Update: Production and release of the USGS's new series of digital topographic maps, the US Topo started in October 2009. In October 2012, the project met its very aggressive long-term goal of replacing all quads in the lower 48 states in three years with the new GeoPDF maps. Thus, the second cycle of US Topo map production has started, beginning with Kansas. Also, all previous "Digital Map–Beta" products have been removed from distribution. The National Geospatial Technical Operations Center reports the following US Topo maps are loaded to the Map Locator of the USGS Store (as of 4-2-15):
  • Kansas: 100% complete - 1,403 quadrangles
  • Oklahoma: 100% complete - 1,149 quadrangles
  • Texas: 100% complete - 4,208 quadrangles
  • New York: 100% complete - 972 quadrangles
  • Kentucky: 100% complete - 671 quadrangles
  • Tennessee: 100% complete - 694 quadrangles
  • Iowa: 100% complete - 1.011 quadrangles
  • Indiana: 100% complete - 640 quadrangles
  • North Carolina: 100% complete - 883 quadrangles
  • Virginia: 100% complete - 729 quadrangles
  • Pennsylvania: 100% complete - 804 quadrangles
  • Wisconsin: 100% complete - 1,109 quadrangles
  • Colorado: 100% complete - 1,794 quadrangles
  • Minnesota: 100% complete - 1,689 quadrangles
  • Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: 100% complete - 97 quadrangles
  • Alaska: 6% complete - 709 quadrangles (estimated total maps when complete: 11,275)
  • Ohio: 100% complete - 748 quadrangles
  • New Mexico: 100% complete - 1,980 quadrangles
  • Idaho: 100% complete - 1,563 quadrangles
  • Washington: 100% complete - 1,446 quadrangles
  • Utah: 100% complete - 1,476 quadrangles
  • West Virginia: 100% complete - 418 quadrangles
  • New Jersey: 100% complete - 150 quadrangles
  • Georgia: 100% complete - 952 quadrangles
  • North Dakota: 100% complete - 1,402 quadrangles
  • Delaware: 100% complete - 38 quadrangles
  • Maryland: 100% complete - 213 quadrangles
  • Montana: 100% compete - 2,913 quadrangles
  • Arkansas: 100% compete - 874 quadrangles
  • South Carolina: 100% compete - 519 quadrangles
  • Oregon: 100% compete - 1,835 quadrangles
  • Michigan: 100% compete - 1,290 quadrangles
  • Maine: 100% compete - 715 quadrangles
  • Alabama: 100% compete - 840 quadrangles
  • Arizona: 100% compete - 1,885 quadrangles
  • Nebraska: 100% compete - 1,376 quadrangles
  • Nevada: 100% compete - 1,376 quadrangles
  • Missouri: 100% compete - 1,196 quadrangles
  • California: 99% compete - 2,795 quadrangles

Thumbnail image of El_Capitan relief map

US Topo Map and Historical Topographic Map Collection News:

  • Golden State Quads Add Trails: Newly released US Topo maps for California now feature selected trails and other substantial updates. Several of the 2,798 new US Topo quadrangles for the state now display public trails along with segments of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Also the new maps now show improved data layers such as public land survey information, map symbol redesign, enhanced railroad information and new road source data. Some of the data for the trails is provided to the USGS through a nationwide “crowdsourcing” project managed by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). http://on.doi.gov/1GL6Gbg

  • More Than 18 Million Served: The USGS, through the National Geospatial Program, has delivered more than 18 million US Topo quadrangles and Historic Topographic maps in the past six years. Can you guess the top download locations? Hints: The most accessed digital US Topo map features a city with many monuments, and the most popular historical scan is in the west, dating back to 1909. For the answers to those questions, and how to download your own maps, for free, go to the most recent USGS Top Story: http://on.doi.gov/1OvyHqA

  • Show Me New Data for Show-Me State Maps: Several of the 1,196 new US Topo quadrangles for the state of Missouri will display selected trails along with other improved data layers and PLSS. The trail data is provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and MTB Project. During the past two years, the IMBA has been building a detailed national database of mountain bike trails with the aid and support of the MTB Project. This “crowdsourced” activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. http://on.doi.gov/1G2eseC

Thumbnail image of an engraved copper plate

Copper Engravings for Sale: From the 1880s to the 1950s, the USGS used engraved copper plates as part of the process to print topographic maps, geologic maps and other scientific illustrations. Thousands of these hand-crafted engravings were used, but eventually replaced by advances in mapping and printing technologies. To clear the aging inventory, the USGS first offered the engraved plates to Federal, state and nonprofit organizations. After that process, the General Services Agency is now selling the remaining sets to the public. More information: http://on.doi.gov/1BJbk43

Thumbnail image of BAA Proposed Body of Work

3DEP Moving Forward:

    Latest 3DEP State Fact Sheets: During the past month, the 3D Elevation Program, known as 3DEP has added two more states to its rapidly growing selection of state-specific fact sheets that features the applications, benefits, and examples of 3DEP. Iowa, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Nevada join the mounting list of 47 state Fact Sheets. All are available for viewing and download from The National Map or 3DEP websites.

  • First Round of Lidar BAA Awards Released: The USGS National Geospatial Program has announced the first round of awards resulting from the USGS Broad Area Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), initially issued on July 18, 2014. The BAA is a publicly accessible process to develop partnerships for the collection of lidar and derived elevation data for 3DEP. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide lidar coverage (ifsar in Alaska) over an 8-year period to provide more than $690 million annually in new benefits to government entities, the private sector and citizens. 3DEP presents a unique opportunity for collaboration between all levels of government to leverage the services and expertise of private sector mapping firms that acquire the data, and to create jobs now and in the future. http://on.doi.gov/18X6HLE

  • More 3DEP in the News: Updated Lidar Base Specs Urges Consistent Data Collection Practices published in the Earth Imaging Journal: http://bit.ly/1ak1y1p

Thumbnail image of an AWS Landsat ArcViewer

Landsat Data Easier to Access and Visualize: Although Landsat data has been free to the public since 2008, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has recently made the vast collection of Landsat imagery easier to obtain and customize with several web services. Users can now access the more than 85,000 Landsat 8 scenes through the AWS Public Data Set. The Landsat program of Earth observation, conducted jointly by USGS and NASA, creates moderate-resolution satellite imagery of all land on Earth every 16 days. The program has been running since 1972, the longest ongoing project to collect land imagery. Landsat data are the foundation for research and applications in many global sectors, including agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, disaster response, and education. Computer World article: http://bit.ly/1BEQMbs

Thumbnail image of Pittsburgh PA

How Pittsburgh got its “H” Back: In 1891, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USGN), acting on a request of the Postal Service, eliminated the “h” from the end of Pittsburgh, mainly to save space. Unlike most other USGN decisions, this action to standardize names across the federal government did not sit well with many prominent Pittsburgh institutions and residents. Under some consistent petitioning and references to historical documentation, the Board reinstated the Steel City’s “h’ on July 19, 1911. However, there are still some artifacts and publications that have the “h” missing. Summary: http://bit.ly/1E9aIaP

Thumbnail image of global ecosystems map

New Map Shows the World's Ecosystems in Unprecedented Detail: The USGS and Esri have partnered to produce the Global Ecological Land Unit map; a cutting-edge, detailed look at the Earth’s ecosystems. The USGS gathered diverse ecological databases like soil surveys, digital elevation models, satellite images, among others, and then partnered with Esri, who provided additional expertise and distribution. Wired magazine article: http://wrd.cm/1EK0EnT

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Trivia Challenge: From winter 2014 to summer 2015, 30 seismometers from the USGS will monitor ground tremors in what U.S. city not known for earthquakes? For the answer to this – and other fun science trivia questions - go to the Science.gov website. The USGS, as part of 16 other Federal science and research agencies who make up the Science.gov alliance, is sponsoring a “trivia challenge”. The questions are posted on the Science.gov Twitter site. To get the answer to these questions, you will be taken to the Science.gov Trivia Challenge page, where you can get the correct answer, more details and see previous questions from other agencies. So, go ahead, and take the challenge! http://go.usa.gov/b2u5

Thumbnail image of John Wesley Powell

Happy Birthday JWP: March 24 marks the birthday of John Wesley Powell (born 1834). Powell was a prominent scientist, explorer, geographer, and even lost an arm as a Civil War hero. He is recognized as one of the leaders of national topographic mapping and was the 2nd director of the USGS. In 1894, to gain funding for a systematic study and classification of the nation’s increasing lands, Powell said to Congress, “A Government cannot do any scientific work of more value to the people at large than by causing the construction of proper topographic maps of the country.” After leaving the USGS, Powell helped establish the National Geographic Society and is a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hat’s off to you, Major Powell! http://on.doi.gov/1FzQ1Ir

Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

NHD Newsletter: The most recent edition of the NHD Newsletter has been posted. The monthly bulletin highlights Hydrography Seminar series, update on hydrography requirements and benefits study, partnership funding, WBD status report, Esri’s Living Atlas and other current hydrography related news. Newsletter readers are encouraged to send in articles on their work to help spread the word of how the NHD and WBD are contributing to water management and science. To view past newsletters go to http://nhd.usgs.gov/newsletter_list.html

USGS Twitter logo

Heading for 3,880! The National Map Twitter site is continuing to grow. Thanks to all who have joined us on @USGSTNM. Are you part? If not, sign up today and help us reach 4,000!

US Topo Update: Production and release of the USGS's new series of digital topographic maps, the US Topo started in October 2009. In October 2012, the project met its very aggressive long-term goal of replacing all quads in the lower 48 states in three years with the new GeoPDF maps. Thus, the second cycle of US Topo map production has started, beginning with Kansas. Also, all previous "Digital Map–Beta" products have been removed from distribution. The National Geospatial Technical Operations Center reports the following US Topo maps are loaded to the Map Locator of the USGS Store (as of 4-2-15):
  • Kansas: 100% complete - 1,403 quadrangles
  • Oklahoma: 100% complete - 1,149 quadrangles
  • Texas: 100% complete - 4,208 quadrangles
  • New York: 100% complete - 972 quadrangles
  • Kentucky: 100% complete - 671 quadrangles
  • Tennessee: 100% complete - 694 quadrangles
  • Iowa: 100% complete - 1.011 quadrangles
  • Indiana: 100% complete - 640 quadrangles
  • North Carolina: 100% complete - 883 quadrangles
  • Virginia: 100% complete - 729 quadrangles
  • Pennsylvania: 100% complete - 804 quadrangles
  • Wisconsin: 100% complete - 1,109 quadrangles
  • Colorado: 100% complete - 1,794 quadrangles
  • Minnesota: 100% complete - 1,689 quadrangles
  • Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: 100% complete - 97 quadrangles
  • Alaska: 6% complete - 709 quadrangles (estimated total maps when complete: 11,275)
  • Ohio: 100% complete - 748 quadrangles
  • New Mexico: 100% complete - 1,980 quadrangles
  • Idaho: 100% complete - 1,563 quadrangles
  • Washington: 100% complete - 1,446 quadrangles
  • Utah: 100% complete - 1,476 quadrangles
  • West Virginia: 100% complete - 418 quadrangles
  • New Jersey: 100% complete - 150 quadrangles
  • Georgia: 100% complete - 952 quadrangles
  • North Dakota: 100% complete - 1,402 quadrangles
  • Delaware: 100% complete - 38 quadrangles
  • Maryland: 100% complete - 213 quadrangles
  • Montana: 100% compete - 2,913 quadrangles
  • Arkansas: 100% compete - 874 quadrangles
  • South Carolina: 100% compete - 519 quadrangles
  • Oregon: 100% compete - 1,835 quadrangles
  • Michigan: 100% compete - 1,290 quadrangles
  • Maine: 100% compete - 715 quadrangles
  • Alabama: 100% compete - 840 quadrangles
  • Arizona: 100% compete - 1,885 quadrangles
  • Nebraska: 100% compete - 1,376 quadrangles
  • Nevada: 100% compete - 1,376 quadrangles
  • Missouri: 100% compete - 1,196 quadrangles
  • California: 99% compete - 2,795 quadrangles


February 2015 and Older Updates:

Thumbnail image of Arizona's Black Canyon map

New US Topo Map Updates:

  • Biking, hiking or riding Arizona Trails: The US Topo map and Historical Topographic Map Collection websites have updated the interactive map application to those home pages. The new series features five topographic maps (and layer variants) of the Black City, Arizona area. The quadrangles span more than 127 years and the 2014 US Topo map editions feature the Black Canyon Trail. Selected trails are a new addition to the US Topo products and use data provided by the International Mountain Bike Association. These flash thumbnails of original scanned maps display all available versions of the Black City area quadrangles in an animated format. The display allows the user to view the maps in chronological order, access larger version of the map and go directly to the free download services. http://1.usa.gov/jtRGVx, http://1.usa.gov/HgbHNw

  • New Nebraska Maps Feature Trails: Several of the 1,376 new US Topo quadrangles for the state of Nebraska will display mountain bike trails along with other improved data layers. The mountain bike trail data is provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and MTB Project. During the past two years, the IMBA has been building a detailed national database of mountain bike trails with the aid and support of the MTB Project. This activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. http://on.doi.gov/1Abl2ut

  • New Nevada Maps Include Trails: Several of the 1,785 new US Topo quadrangles for the state of Nevada will display mountain bike trails along with other improved data layers and PLSS. The mountain bike trail data is provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and MTB Project. During the past two years, the IMBA has been building a detailed national database of mountain bike trails with the aid and support of the MTB Project. This “crowdsourced” activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. http://on.doi.gov/16S4X5b

Thumbnail image of VGI status map

Citizen Scientists Submit More Than 100,000 Points: The U.S. Geological Survey’s citizen science project, The National Map Corps, has reached another milestone. In less than two years, the volunteer based project, using “crowd-sourcing” techniques, has gathered more than100,000 “points” from participants. Each points represent a structure or manmade feature on a map that has been verified and updated, and then submitted to support The National Map and US Topo maps. Participants who submit points through the system can receive badges and recognition. http://on.doi.gov/1CCvW11

Thumbnail image of lidar

Latest 3DEP State Fact Sheets: During the past few months, the 3D Elevation Program or 3DEP has added four more states to its rapidly growing selection of state-specific fact sheets that features the applications, benefits, and examples of 3DEP. Nebraska, Vermont, Utah and New Hampshire join the mounting list of 43 state Fact Sheets. All are available for viewing and download from The National Map or 3DEP websites.

Thumbnail image of airplane

fconley Soars: The USGS crowdsourcing project called The National Map Corps uses citizen scientists to validate or edit structures to improve topographic maps. To reward and recognize those volunteers, TNMCorps assigns points to the submissions which lead to virtual badges. One of the most active data providers to reach the new top award, the Squadron of Biplane Spectators, goes by the handle of “fconley”. His story: "I am retired from an unrelated field, but I have loved maps and travel all my life,” says the intrepid contributor. “When I saw that USGS was looking for volunteers I immediately joined, first of all working with paper maps and quads. As digital mapping, satellite imagery, and GPS became more available I was enthralled. With the imagery now accessible it is almost like being able to travel sitting at my desk. At times, locating structures seems similar to solving puzzles or detective work. This whole project is not only enjoyable but it makes me feel that I am making a lasting and useful contribution. I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved in this fascinating endeavor." You can assist FConley along with hundreds of others and contribute to The National Map. Join The National Corps and begin editing points today! http://bit.ly/11e0VLu

Thumbnail image of Sci.gov text

Trivia Challenge: According to the USGS, which state hosts the geographic center of the contiguous United States: Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas or Iowa? For the answer to this – and other fun science trivia questions - go to the Science.gov website. The USGS, as part of 16 other Federal science and research agencies who make up the Science.gov alliance, is sponsoring a “trivia challenge”. The questions are posted on the Science.gov Twitter site. To get the answer to these questions, you will be taken to the Science.gov Trivia Challenge page, where you can get the correct answer, more details and see previous questions from other agencies. So, go ahead, and take the challenge! http://go.usa.gov/b2u5

Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

Media Interview - Big Data: Dr. Lynn Usery, the Director of the USGS Center for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) will be interviewed by Patrick Marshall of Government Computer News concerning the CEGIS Data Integration project. A casestudy story is planned to cover perceived data needs, project goals, accomplishments, future milestones and collaboration with the FGDC National Geospatial Data Asset Management Plan. http://bit.ly/1uK4pV1

Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

NHD Newsletter: The most recent edition of the NHD Newsletter has been posted. The monthly bulletin highlights some new NHD tool updates, network improvements, GeoConflation Process overview, initial NHD planning for the year and other current hydrography related news. Newsletter readers are encouraged to send in articles on their work to help spread the word of how the NHD and WBD are contributing to water management and science. To view past newsletters go to http://nhd.usgs.gov/newsletter_list.html

Link to AZ Black Canyon City trail maps

New US Topo Map Updates:

    By Bike, Foot or Hoof: New Arizona Maps Feature Trails: Newly released US Topo maps for Arizona now feature mountain bike trails, segments of the Arizona National Scenic Trail and Public Land Survey System data. Arizona is the first US Topo map series to display the mountain bike trails which are provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and MTB Project. This unique "crowdsourcing" project has allowed availability of mountain bike trail data though mobile and web apps, and the revised US Topo maps. http://on.doi.gov/141jKsQ

  • National Scenic Trails Added to Maine Maps: Newly released US Topo maps for Maine now feature segments of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) In partnership with The National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, several of the 715 new US Topo quadrangles for the state now display parts of the A.T. The A.T. is the is longest of the 11 National Scenic Trails extending more than 2,100 miles through 14 states, meandering from Maine to Georgia. The maps can be viewed and downloaded for free from the US Topo map website. http://on.doi.gov/1tAr7Bq

  • Latest Alabama Quads Available: New US Topo maps for Alabama (840 quadrangles) have been posted to the USGS Map Locator & Downloader and are also accessible through The National Map viewer. The revised maps feature a new design that was launched earlier this year and replace the first edition US Topo maps for the state. The new design presents a crisper and cleaner presentation which enhances the readability of the maps for online and printer use. http://on.doi.gov/1rfvtJw
Thumbnail image of Alaska's tundra

    Mapping Alaska: In a recent front-page Washington Post article, reporter Lori Montgomery described the necessity and benefits of an USGS program to map Alaska. Although the rest of the U.S. has refined and mostly current topographic maps, much of the terrain data for Alaska is more than 50 years old. The old maps have contributed to numerous safety, science and social issues. The major requirement for the new and better detailed maps is precise elevation data. To collect such data, the USGS - along with numerous state and federal partners - has initiated the 3D Elevation Program, an effort to cover all 50 states with airborne lasers (lidar) or radar (ifsar). Article: http://wapo.st/1sLs4ro
Thumbnail image of Black Canyon mountain bike trail

    Get Your Wheels Spinning: As part of the continued US Topo map revision and improvement cycle, the USGS will be including mountain bike trails to upcoming quadrangles on a state-aligned basis. The first state maps series to feature this new addition is projected to be Arizona in November. The mountain bike trail data is provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and MTB Project. During the past two years, the IMBA has been building a detailed national database of mountain bike trails with the aid and support of the MTB Project. This activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. MTB Project and IMBA then verify the quality of the trail data provided, ensure accuracy and confirm that the trail is legal. This unique "crowdsourcing" project has allowed availability of mountain bike trail data though mobile and web apps, and soon, the revised US Topo maps. http://on.doi.gov/1FSYofq
Thumbnail image of water data, lidar

    3DEP in the News: The national 3D elevation program (3DEP) project is designed to satisfy the growing demand for consistent, high-quality elevation data and a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features. Among the applications that will benefit from 3DEP data are flood risk management, agriculture, water supply, homeland security, renewable energy, aviation safety, and other areas. During the past few months, 3DEP has increased visibility and importance to include a Congressional Briefing series and mentions by the Administration:

Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

    Global Ecological Land Units maps:The USGS and Esri are pleased to announce the publication of the most detailed global ecological land units map in the world. This exciting new global data set provides a science platform for better understanding and accounting of the world’s resources as well as assessments of ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, soil formation and environmental degradation. Esri has created a Story Map and custom app that allow for additional exploration and insight. Scientists, land managers, conservationists, developers, and the public can use this map to improve regional, national, and global resource management, planning, and decision making. http://bit.ly/1zoMk3G
Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

    TIGER Turns 25, Added to TNM: In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) database, the U.S. Census Bureau and the USGS are issuing a joint release to announce that The National Map Viewer and US Topo maps will use TIGER data starting in 2015. The TIGER roads layer, which consists of all roads in the US, joins the TIGER governmental unit boundaries layer as an authoritative source of current, accurate and high-quality geospatial data for reliable map products. http://1.usa.gov/1F4h7UV
Thumbnail image of Monson, Maine

    Where is Monson? The US Topo map and Historical Topographic Map Collection websites have updated the interactive map application to those home pages. The new series features nine topographic maps of the Monson, Maine area. The quadrangles span more than 63 years and the 2014 editions feature segments of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. These flash thumbnails of original scanned maps display all available versions of the Monson area quadrangles in an animated format. The display allows the user to view the maps in chronological order, access larger version of the map and go directly to the free download services. http://1.usa.gov/jtRGVx, http://1.usa.gov/HgbHNw
Thumbnail image of global ecological land unit

    Trivia Challenge: There are just over how many counties in U.S.: 3,000; 12,000 or 27,000? For the answer to this – and other fun science trivia questions - go to the Science.gov website. The USGS, as part of 16 other Federal science and research agencies who make up the Science.gov alliance, is sponsoring a "trivia challenge". The questions are posted on the Science.gov Twitter site. To get the answer to these questions, you will be taken to the Science.gov Trivia Challenge page, where you can get the correct answer, more details and see previous questions from other agencies. So, go ahead, and take the challenge! http://go.usa.gov/b2u5


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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 25-Mar-2015 18:28:40 EDT

Kari Craun David Brostuen Phyllis Altheide