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All About GIS (Geo-Information-System)

What is GIS?
A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data.
Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and
organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. With this unique capability,
GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users
make smarter decisions.

How GIS works?

GIS technology applies geographic science with tools for understanding and collaboration. It helps
people reach a common goal: to gain actionable intelligence from all types of data.


Some applications of GIS in real life:

1. Mapping: Geographical Information Systems store data in databases and then represent it
visually in a mapped format. People from different professions use maps to communicate. E.g.
Google, GPS, Here all utilize maps for common use.
2. Telephone/Network services: GIS Data is used to incorporate geographic data into the complex
network design, planning, optimization, maintenance and activities. It provides a location based
service for engineering applications and customer relationship management.
3. Road Safety Analysis: GIS can be used as a key tool to minimize accident hazard on roads, by
identifying the accident locations and providing remedial measures.
4. Urban Growth: Analyze, locate and monitor urban expansion on suitable sites.
5. Transport: Manage and monitor roads, railway, waterways and logistics by using environmental
and topographical data in the GIS platform.
6. The Environment: Environmental impact statements are required to contain specific
information on the magnitude and characteristics of environmental impact. The EIA can be
carried out efficiently by integrating various GIS layers and assessment of natural features can
be performed.
7. Agriculture: GIS can be used to create more effective and efficient farming techniques, by
analyzing soil data and determining the best crop to plant.
8. Managing Disasters: GIS systems can manage the risk of a disaster by monitoring areas prone to
natural or man-made disasters.
9. Banking: Being market driven banks need to provide customer centric services around planning
of resources and marketing. GIS plays an important role providing planning, organizing and
decision making.
10. Land Information: GIS based land acquisition management system will provide complete
information about land assessments and tracking of land allotments.
11. Surveying: Land survey is measuring the distance and angles between different points on the
earth surface. Many organizations are now using Satellites to make these measurements. It is
called a Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) and is used for topographic surveys where a
centimeter level accuracy is provided.
12. Geology: Geologists use GIS to study geological features, analyze soils and strata, assess seismic
information, and or create three dimensional (3D) displays of geographic features. GIS can be
also used to analyze rock information characteristics and identifying the best dam site location.
13. Assets Management: GIS helps organizations to locate and store information about their assets.
Operations and maintenance staff can also deploy their enterprise and mobile workforce.
14. Planning and Community Development: GIS help us to better understand our world so we can
meet global challenges. Today GIS technology is advancing rapidly, providing many new
capabilities and innovations in planning.
15. Dairy Industry: Geographic Information Systems are used in the distribution of products,
production rate, location of shops and their selling rate. These can also be monitored by using a
GIS system.
16. Tourism: Tourists can get all the information they need on a click, measuring distance, finding
hotels, restaurants and even navigate to their respective links. This Information plays a vital role
to tourists in planning their travel from one place to another.
17. Irrigation management: Water availability for irrigation purposes for any area is vital for crop
production in that region. It needs to be properly and efficiently managed for the proper
utilization of water. To evaluate the irrigation performance, integrated use of satellite remote
sensing and GIS assisted by ground information has been found to be an efficient technique in
spatial and time domain for identification of major crops and their conditions.
18. Earthquakes: There is a need to have knowledge regarding the trends in earthquake occurrence
worldwide. A GIS based user interface system for querying an earthquake catalogue will be of
great help to the earthquake engineers and seismologists in understanding the behavior pattern
of earthquakes
19. Volcanoes: Potential volcanic hazard zones can be recognized by the characteristic historical
records of volcanic activities, it can incorporate with GIS.
20. Forest Fires: Forest fires caused extensive damage to our communities and environmental
resource base. GIS can effectively help to capture real time monitoring of fire prone areas. This
is achieved by the help of GNSS and satellite Remote Sensing.
21. Pest Control: GIS plays an important role to map out infested areas.
22. Utilization of Space: GIS helps managers to organize and spatially visualize space and how it can
best be used. Operational costs can be decreased by more efficiently using space including
managing the moves of personnel and assets as well as the storage materials. The 3D
visualization in GIS platforms helps planners to create a feeling of experience like virtual walk
inside the building and rooms before construction.
23. Business: GIS is used for managing business information based on its location. GIS can keep
track of where customers are located, site business, target marketing campaigns, and optimize
sales territories and model retail spending patterns.
24. Location Identification: This technique is used to find a location for a new retail outlet. It helps
to find out what exists at a particular location. A location can be described in many ways, using,
for instance, name of place, post code, or geographic reference such as longitude or latitude or
25. Coastal Management: The coastal zone represents varied and highly productive ecosystem such
as mangrove, coral reefs, see grasses and sand dunes. GIS could be generating data required for
macro and micro level planning of coastal zone management and in creating a baseline
inventory of mapping and monitoring coastal resources, selecting sites for brackish water
aquaculture, studying coastal land forms.
26. Crime: Crime mapping is a key component of crime analysis. Satellite images can display
important information about criminal activities. The efficiency and the speed of the GIS analysis
will increase the capabilities of crime fighting.
27. Cables: Pipe line and cable location is essential for leak detection. It can be used to understand
your water network, conducting repairs and adjustments, locating leaks known distance for
correlating etc. Pipelines are continually monitored, check for leak detection and avoid the
problem of geo hazards.
28. Wildlife Management: Man made destruction such as habitat loss, pollution, invasive species
introduction, and climate change, are all threats to wildlife health and biodiversity. GIS
technology is an effective tool for managing, analyzing, and visualizing wildlife data to target
areas where international management practices are needed and to monitor their effectiveness.
GIS helps wildlife management professionals examine and envision.

Applications and use of GIS in Geology:

This section will basically show a case study for each field of geology where GIS technology has been

Oil exploration: Examples from a recent land geophysical field program in the Central Apennines of
southern Italy have shown several uses of GIS as applied to exploration. The examples illustrate the
application of inexpensive, field portable GIS tools to exploration survey planning, management, and QC.
(Pawlowski, 2000)
The Apennine Mountains, which run the length of and form the spine of the Italian peninsula, are
characterized by rugged terrain, folded, and faulted rocks of the so called Apennine platform carbonate
series. The difficult terrain obstructs mobility of personnel and equipment, resulting in high seismic
acquisition costs. In addition, the regional stratigraphy is highly calcareous, consisting of some thick and
monotonous platform carbonate, flysch, and molasses sequences. These factors create a considerable
challenge to acquisition of high quality data. Because of these challenges, a company was contracted to
help design and manage a comprehensive non seismic exploration field program in Forest’s onshore
Caserta Block (Figure 1). The non seismic program was designed to provide permit-wide exploration
reconnaissance at a cost comparable to that of a single 15-km seismic line. The goals of the non seismic
reconnaissance program were to identify prospective structural leads and optimize the locations of new
seismic lines to be acquired later.
Acquisition of new gravity data was planned to make use of the extensive network of roads in the area.
This decision was made for logistical ease and because future seismic acquisition will likely maximize use
of the same roads. The GIS tools used were valuable in (1) tracking and monitoring gravity data
acquisition and (2) verifying that the gravity station data were acquired in the correct locations.
Acquisition of Magnetotelluric (MT) data is negatively affected by cultural sources of electromagnetic
noise (e.g., electric railroads, pipeline cathodic protection, electric power switching equipment and
transmission lines, cities, etc.). Thus GIS can help optimize MT data acquisition because it can provide a
rapid first look at possible problem (electrically noisy) areas.

Figure 2 illustrates the utility of the data-layering capability inherent to GIS. In Figure 2, surface geologic
map information has been put as a base map and displayed with other data/information of interest. The
geologic information serves as a GIS map backdrop, ensuring that all MT sites sample outcropping
geologic units/features of interest. The four MT sites (dark blue triangles) of the initial noise-test
program can be seen in Figure 2.

Structural Geology: (Brew et al, 2000) generated new structural maps and tectonic models for the
whole Sirya. Information on this region is relatively limited, despite the local importance of hydrocarbon
production and abundant surface and subsurface data. The regional approach involved new
interpretations of seismic reflection profiles, well data, remote sensing imagery, and potential-field data,
merged with existing interpretations of similar data sets (see figure 3). These interpretations,
integrations, analyses, and map preparation were all performed within a GIS platform.

Figure 4 shows a preliminary and initial structural map example. The contours of depth to Lower
Cretaceous are based on well data, together with digitized, depth converted, converted, seismic-
reflection interpretations that have been entered into the GIS. Faults are interpreted from seismic
reflection profiles and other data and their digitized locations entered into the GIS. Both the depth
contours and the faults can be edited on screen. In this way, co-registered topography, satellite imagery,
and geology maps can facilitate mapping of features.
GIS is an essential component in tectonic mapping and
structural interpretation. Data manipulation, visualizations,
and integrated interpretations, previously prohibitively time-
consuming or impossible, are quick and easy using GIS
technology. This allows faster, more accurate analysis, and
better quality, highly accessible, end products. The maps and
models were created are important for continued
hydrocarbon exploration.

Environmental Geology: The Pontide metallotect is

the major producing area in Turkey for base metals and has
significant Au producing potential. Two major
developments are currently at the feasibility stage and face
opposition because of their potential environmental
impact. Little information exists to substantiate past
impacts. Figure 6 is showing the location of the area and
the major mineral deposits.
A study conducted by (Akcay et al, 2004) describes
reconnaissance water sampling and observations of the impact of some of the major current and
disused operations. These are volcanic hosted massive sulphide (VMS) deposits at Murgul, Kutlular,
Lahanos and Çayeli. Smaller vein mines at GümüEki Tepe and Midi Maden were also sampled. The VMS
deposits have had considerable impact. At Kutlular and Lahanos acid mine drainage (AMD) is strongly
developed and metals are transported into drainages.
One of the major parts of this study was to assemble a
database in geographical information system (GIS) format
to come up with a map showing the potential for AMD by
utilizing the analytical ability in GIS (see figure 7). This
presents a problem in Turkey as there has been a long
tradition of governmental classification of map data as
secret. As a result very little information is available in
digital format and obtaining paper maps to digitize is not
easy. The layers that have been used are: rainfall map,
topography map, Geology map, and mineral deposits map.

Earthquakes: (seber et al, 2000) have shown that having the historical earthquake events data
managed in GIS platform can help in avoiding urban development in areas with high risk records and it
also helps in knowing high risk areas for better emergency planning and management (see figure 9). This
layer can be also overlaid on top of a geological map and/or fault map for regional tectonic
Volcanoes: GIS can be used in building database for active volcanoes (Seber et al, 2000). The attributes
associated with each volcano may include: location, last eruption date, type of eruption, height, lave
composition, eruption duration… Etc. (See figure 10)
GIS is also useful in predicting the lava flow direction, and managing the development and emergency
evacuations. The United States Geological Survey has applied GIS in analyzing the volcanic hazards
associated with Lassen Volcanic National Park area, California. The volcano scientists utilized the
available data to develop a volcano hazard zones (USGS fact sheet fs022-00, 2000). (See figure 11)

Flooding: Muzaffarabad city is one the most severally flood affected area in northern Pakistan. It is
situated at the confluence of River Neelum and Jhelum. High class residential area and commercial
activities are situated along riverbanks, which are severally
vulnerable to flooding. Due to rugged topography and lack of
further land for extension, the people are imposed to
construct either double-storey buildings or multi-storey
buildings. (Nawaz and Shafique, 2003)
For a number of reasons the most frequent choice should be
protection from the flooding by means of physical control of
the river, but there is also a need for a broader and
comprehensive program for managing flood hazard in the
study area. Flood protection has been helpful and must be
continued. Side by side other preventive tools like effective
planning for the growth of the city, creation of a
computerized GIS database for the flood prone areas and a
detail flood risk assessment mapping and zonation are
required to minimize the harmful effects of flood hazard. Therefore, an attempt has been made to apply
modern techniques like Geographical Information System and Remote Sensing for the assessment of
flood hazard. The presence of risk assessment mapping will help the concerned authorities to formulate
their development strategies according to the available risk to the area. (See figure 12)
GIS applications in managing the geo-hazards are not limited to these three hazards. It is heavily used in
other areas such as: drought, fire, cyclone, and landslide and soil erosion. (GIS Development website)

The need for comprehensive geo-science information systems in research and education is
overwhelming. Examples shown in this paper provided detailed explanations about geographic
information system that will lead to better and more efficient research studies in many parts of the
world. The success of future geo-science research relies on how efficiently and effectively researchers
can access multidisciplinary data sets in their analysis. As our understanding of the Earth increases, it is
becoming clearer that cross disciplinary techniques must be utilized to achieve a higher level of

List of references:
The Science of Where

Peter Landis, 360HR Associate (via

Ahmad A. AL-Shehab, Applications of GIS in Geology, 2007, p. 6-18