GIS Data of the Moon’s Geology

Caitlin Dempsey


The USGS recently released a highly detailed map along with its associated GIS data. The recently published map is a seamless combination of six digitized geologic maps of the moon that were originally created in the 1970s. This updated GIS dataset of 1970s lunar geology is now usable with tandem with newer, higher resolution datasets including the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Wide Angle Camera mosaic and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter digital terrain model. 

The end result is a stunningly detailed 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map of the moon that builds on the 2013 Lunar Geologic Renovation.

Detail of the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, USGS

The project used GIS software to match the boundaries of the digitized east side, central far side, and west side maps and to resolve overlap between the pole maps and the near side maps. GIS software was also used to map lunar surface features in a consistent manner. Details about the methodology and the progress timeline of this lunar mapping project are available in this short paper:

Fortezzo, C. M. and Spudis, P. D. (2018) Digital Global Geologic Map of The Moon: Analysis Tool for Lunar Research, Planetary Geologic Mappers Meeting, Knoxville, TN.

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Lunar cartographers are able to directly access the GIS data from the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon. The compressed file contains lunar geology and annotation layers in geodatabase format as well as .mxd files for style information.

Lunar geology GIS data and the final map in jpeg format can be accessed from:

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.