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Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data

Mineral Resources > Online Spatial Data

Using USGS geochemical databases within ArcGIS

ArcGIS is a popular geographic information system software product from ESRI. We discuss the use of USGS geochemical data with this particular software product not as an endorsement of the software or the company but because the USGS uses this software for much of its geographic data processing and we are aware that other Federal agencies and organizations do as well.

Downloadable data packages

In many cases it is practical to download data packages containing all or a selected subset of geochemical records for use within the GIS. Selected subsets can be created on request at various points in this web site, primarily

Dynamic access within the GIS software

Geochemical records are updated rarely but occasionally. Due to the large number of reports, it is practical to obtain these dynamically within the GIS software by using a web service and some specialized software.

Web service

For programmers, web services may be used to obtain geochemical records for geographic areas delimited by a bounding rectangle in latitude and longitude. Examples serve to illustrate their usage:
NGDB rock geochemistry:

National Geochemical Survey sediment geochemistry:

NURE-HSSR sediment geochemistry:

NURE-HSSR water geochemistry:
Each of these URLs will return an XML document containing reports from records of samples located near Four Corners, where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet. The bounding coordinates are specified as
xmin = -109.25
ymin =   37.25
xmax = -108.75
ymax =   36.75
These numbers are expressed in the usual way in a web site URL, by omitting spaces and by separating each variable with an ampersand (&).

ArcGIS 10 add-in

For the convenience of USGS staff we have developed an add-in for use with ArcGIS version 10, and this add-in is also available for users of that software outside USGS. The add-in can be downloaded here: (1.2MB zip file expands to 7.4MB)
The package contains four file geodatabases, the add-in itself GeoChemaddin.esriaddin, and a map description file USGS Geochem.mxd. Double-click the addin to install in ArcGIS 10.
The GeoChem addin uses a flask icon in the ArcMap toolbar, circled in this screen image:
ArcMap window with GeoChem addin toolbar button circled

With the GeoChem addin installed, open USGS Geochem.mxd, zoom to the geographic area you are interested in, and click the GeoChem icon in the toolbar, a flask symbol. That will bring up a dialog asking you which of the GeoChemical databases you wish to include within the geographic extent of your data frame.

When you click the flask icon, this data selection window should appear:
GeoChem addin form

After clicking the button on the form to get data, you should see geochemical sample locations on the map. These you can examine by using the identify tool and clicking individually. A few attributes are provided in the geodatabase for refined selection and symbolization, but most of the details of individual site records are obtained by clicking the URL provided in the Online Report data field. That should open a web browser and display the full report of that site from the appropriate geochemistry database.

This addin should be considered experimental at this point (Fall 2011). Please let us know if you encounter difficulties with it by sending email to Peter Schweitzer.

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 15-Feb-2017 10:25:24 MST