GIS - Geographic Information Systems

Information on the GIS course: Geo 328: Analysis of Geospatial Data / GIS

Please note that this course (GEOLB328001) is cross-listed as ARCH B328 and BIOL B328; enrollment is limited to 20 students.

What is a GIS? - It is a software tool that handles geographically distributed data. It is a system for input, storage, manipulation, and output of geographic information. GIS combines software with hardware, data, a user, etc., to solve a problem, support a decision, help to plan. The GIS system used in Geology and taught by ML Crawford is CARIS, a GIS that has a sophisticated geological mapping capability. Geoff Compton uses and teaches ArcGis in GEO 328.


A GIS course in the Geography Dept. at the University of British Columbia has class notes available on their course web site.


 Some aspects inherent in GIS include:

There are two fundamentally different types of GIS software:

- Vector GIS. In vector GIS map features are represented by nodes, arcs and polygons. It is based on vectors (as opposed to space-occupancy raster structures). More details on Vector GIS

- Raster GIS. A map in a raster GIS divides the entire study area into a regular grid of cells in a specific sequence. The data completely fill the space of the map. More details on Raster GIS

Some resources for the GIS user:

Coordinate and datum transformations

Locate places

Some sources of geological data

Other Data sources (Geographers Craft)

GIS internet resources (U.S. Army Geospatial Center)

GIS and remote sensing searchable linkbase (Brian Klinkenberg, University of British Columbia)

Internet Resources for Geographers  (Dept. of Geography, U Colorado, Boulder)

GIS links for the USA by state (Doyle's GIS Links Web Page)

Ultimate Directory of Geography Resources (Includes educational resources as well as data and maps)


These and many other topics are covered in the GIS course noted at top of this page. It is offered at least once each year. To find out more about this course please contact