Versatile New Maps: The Medium Scale Hydro Basemap and Hydro Reference Overlay

In the bad old days, you may have done some work for a client and got to a point where you just want to make a map for a meeting or a report.  One of the most time consuming parts of making a map from scratch was finding data for rivers, streams, and lakes, then turning each an appropriate blue, making each line the appropriate symbol, then symbolizing each stream segment.  It takes time to find a dataset that is good enough, at the right scale, and that looks good when you are done symbolizing everything.  It may take you hours to find the right data, symbolize, and label everything.

In my past life as a consultant, sometimes I had to start from scratch like this. I spent time finding and downloading appropriate scale data, checking it to see if it looks OK on my map, then symbolizing each stream and lake at least a little bit (most places I have worked don’t need glaciers symbolized) so they show up with the right symbol.  Once that is all set, I haven’t even started labeling each stream, which can take quite a while to get right.

Sometimes to save my clients money I would give up and use USGS DRGs, turning only the blue symbols on.  I often thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some kind of national hydrologic map service on the internet that you can just add to your map and it just works?

Now there is… in the form of the esri Mapping Center Hydro Team Hydro Basemap.  We have made a medium scale hydro basemap of the United States, from 1:147,000 to 1:18,000.  And we think it will make a lot of things easier for our community.

The Hydro Basemap of the United States is based on NHD, but with a focus on analytical cartography.  These maps are made to show hydrologic networks connecting through a system.  What’s known as the ‘Hydro Basemap’ is just the Hydro Reference Overlay plus relief… At times you may have your own relief or basemap and may not need any background behind the rivers and lakes.  For that you don’t want the whole Hydro Basemap, just what’s called the Hydro Reference Overlay. That’s the only difference in the two concepts… the presence of relief.  These two products are close companions to one another.

Hydro Basemap

Gardiner, Maine area, esri Mapping Center Team Hydro Basemap of the United States

Actually the Mapping Center Team has gone way beyond the concept I described earlier.  What we actually built is a hydro basemap, but one that is ready for a multiscale experience.  You can take one of the applications we built such as the High Water Map, then recycle/repurpose the javascript application for your needs, and the basemap is ready for you to use.  Just add your data.

 Hydro Basemap mashup with USGS Gauges

A map created on arcgis.com using the hydro basemap, mashed up with the USGS river gauge service.

As you zoom in and out, streams turn on and off, and labels rearrange for you.  As you zoom in, more and more stream segments appear that are important to your map view.  As you zoom out, smaller streams that would clutter your map view are selected out of the cache and removed.  Streams do not turn off and on indiscriminately or based solely on size or flow, there is a sophisticated algorithm at work here that will prioritize small streams with big important names (such as the upper Mississippi River in Minnesota).  In addition, different parts of the country have different methods of stream prioritization, and these are respected.  There is no one size fits all method to pruning streams as scales change, since different parts of the country have different soils and drainage characteristics. Don’t worry, we have done this for you so you don’t have to.

It’s easy to get used to something like this because (as we like to think at the Mapping Center) it’s how things should have been all along. We at the Mapping Center Hydro Team are proud of this product and would like you to give it a spin, and see how you like it.  We’d like to hear your comment to know how easy this is for you to use.  I wish they had this when I was a consultant.

Special thanks to Michael Dangermond for providing this post. Questions for Michael:  mdangermond@esri.com

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Historical USGS topographic quads

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

USGS Quads - Thumbnail

Some of you may find this news of interest…the USGS historical topographic quadrangles are being made available in the Map Locator application at the USGS Store website (http://store.usgs.gov/), for viewing/downloading in GeoPDF format (a print-on-demand can also be ordered). They will be posted in the same order that the new product U.S. topos are being made available, so the first state for which they are available is Kansas. These historical quad scans include every version of a USGS topographic quadrangle map that was printed, including reprints where no changes were made to the interior of the map. Here is where you can find details on this project: http://nationalmap.gov/historical/index.html.

Note that we also blogged about this in an earlier entry: USGS Historical Quadrangle Scanning Project.

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Hydrography Event Management Tool for ArcGIS 10

National Hydrography Dataset






The Hydrography Event Management (HEM) Tool Version 2.4 for ArcGIS 10 is now available!

The HEM Tool provides full functionality for adding and editing events in the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).

Events are informational data linked to the NHD using a linear
referencing system on NHDFlowlines.  The use of events allows vast
amounts of scientific information to be linked to the NHD.

The HEM tool handles all linear referencing mechanics to make working with events easy.  It works on point, line, and area events and allows events to be located interactively, imported, or calculated.

A number of state and federal partners have adopted HEM: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) incorporated HEM to meet Clean Water Act reporting requirements, the U.S. Forest Service incorporated HEM functionality into their National Resource Information System (NRIS) Aquatic Surveys application, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) incorporated HEM to support event creation for its Oregon/Washington Aquatic Resource Information Management System
and is evaluating its use for a national Riparian Database, and the HEM
Tool is used to georeference water quality data to the NHD, and this
information is then used for Section 303(d) water quality reports on impaired waters.

HEM effort is a unique collaboration between the BLM, U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS), and the EPA that results in ongoing tool development and
support to the expanding HEM user community.

The USGS provides basic to advanced HEM training with easy to follow exercises:

and additional user support in the Troubleshooting Guide.

OR you can request training and support on a specific HEM topic.

To find out more information visit USGS’s HEM site.

NHD Tools



Special thanks to Ariel Bates for providing the post. Questions for Ariel: atbates@usgs.gov

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Using ArcGIS Online to map the Arkansas earthquake swarm

Earlier this evening I saw this tweet from the USGS about a recent swarm of earthquakes in Arkansas:

Continue reading

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Exploring the Arkansas Earthquake Swarm

Checking out a few tweets this evening I noticed this one from the USGS:

I followed the tweeted link to more details about the recent earthquake swarm in Arkansas, and went to the data and feeds page to make my own map. I made my first map by opening the KML file in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, shown below.


The great thing about opening the KML in Explorer vs. Google Earth is that I could choose from many different basemaps, or combine other ArcGIS Online services like population density (shown below) to see how many folks were close by. From the population density l discovered that the population density near the quake cluster is very low.

I also used the buffer tool (found in the Analysis Gallery)


to create several radii to see how far away the smaller quakes were to the largest quake, a 4.0 shown in red. I created 3, 4, and 5 mile rings and discovered that most of the swarm was within 4 miles of the epicenter of the largest quake.

Since I wanted to keep an eye on the swarm, I decided to add the GeoRSS feed which is dynamic, and continually updated. To add the feed I clicked Add Content and chose GIS Services:

Then chose GeoRSS as the service type:

And entered the URL I found at the USGS website for the feed:

Next I chose the update interval, and since I wanted to view the latest earthquakes each time I opened the map, I toggled the second option. I could also have set the update to refresh periodically. Below is the GeoRSS feed shown in my map.

For more information check out these help topics:

Subscribe to GeoRSS feeds

Add KML files




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USGS and ArcGIS Online map natural hazard events

12/30/09–Earlier this morning several of us sitting in our offices felt the roll of an earthquake – where could it be? Visiting the USGS Natural Hazards Support System site we quickly learned that the quake we felt was located in Baja California, measuring in at hefty 5.8 with a number of aftershocks, one measuring 4.9.

The USGS Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center, based in Denver, recently released the Natural Hazards Support system application which is built using ArcGIS Online’s JavaScript API (one of several ArcGIS Web mapping APIs available via ArcGIS Online), several ArcGIS Online basemaps, and additional services powered by ArcGIS Server.

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The shakedown on the ShakeOut

Yesterday nearly 5 million Californians living near the San Andreas fault participated in an earthquake disaster preparedness drill called the ShakeOut, which we mentioned in our post yesterday. The earthquake scenario included a 7.8-magnitude earthquake along a 190-mile stretch of the fault starting at the Salton Sea and stretching northwest.

To understand the demographics of the most impacted areas in the scenario, we opened the USGS earthquake simulation shake intensity map (published as a KML) and added it to Explorer. Here’s the view of the quake intensity map looking north along the southern California Coast. The red areas are the areas with the highest predicted intensity.

We used the Business Reports task (powered by ESRI’s Business Analyst Online), available on the Explorer Resource Center, to delineate the boundary around the highest intensity areas. We used that boundary to generate the report, shown here:

The graphic demographic profile is the one we chose, and there are many different kinds of reports to choose from (some are free, some require a subscription). The report showed that over 6 million households are located in the high intensity area, roughly evenly distributed by age and income, with %50 of the owner occupied homes having a value greater than $400,000, and %40 having a value of greater than $500,000.

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