Alexandria Digital Library Feature Type Thesaurus

Types of named geographic features. Applicable also to many unnamed features but reflects the level of detail traditionally shown on maps, so some feature types specified in scientific studies may not be well represented here. Not highly specific.
administrative areas
(use for administrative divisions, boundary regions, buffer zones, civil areas, concession areas, demilitarized zones, districts, free trade zones, governed places, leased areas (government), leased zones (government), neutral zones (political), prefectures, protectorates, sheikdoms, sultanates, trade zones)
cadastral areas
Areas for which there exist public records, surveys, or maps of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for township and range areas)
military areas
(use for air force bases, army facilities, arsenals, artillery ranges, barracks, bases (military), camps (military), forts, infantry camps, maneuver areas, military bases, military installations, national guard facilities, naval bases)
political areas
(use for commonwealths, dependent political entities, freely associated states, independent political entities, oblasts, political entities, semi-independent political entities)
Territory occupied by a large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government, and recognized as a country internationally. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for nations, republics)
countries, 1st order divisions
First-order divisions of a nation. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for cantons, first-order administrative divisions, provinces, states, territories)
countries, 2nd order divisions
Second-order divisions of a nation such as parishes, boroughs, counties, municipios, or judicial divisions, and independent cities such as those in Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia. [Adapted from USGS Circ 1048] (use for boroughs, counties, judicial divisions, municipios, parishes, second-order administrative divisions)
countries, 3rd order divisions
Minor civil units. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for barrios, precincts, third-order administrative divisions, townships)
countries, 4th order divisions
Minor civil units. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for fourth-order administrative divisions)
multinational entities
populated places
Places or areas with clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent human population. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for agricultural colonies, communes, communities, hamlets, homesteads, locales, localities, metropolitan areas, populated localities, ppl, pueblos, religious populated places, settlements, suburbs, villages)
Incorporated populated places. [Adapted from USGS Circ 1048] (use for municipalities, towns, urban areas)
Towns or cities that are the official seats of government in a political entity, such as a state or nation. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for county seats, national capitals, state capitals)
postal areas
Designated zones of a country for efficient sorting and delivery of mail. (use for zip code areas)
school districts
Geographic districts, the public schools of which are administered together. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
statistical areas
census areas
Defined areas in which an official, usually periodic enumeration of a population is carried out, often including the collection of related demographic information. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
Metropolitan Statistical Areas
Defined urbanized areas for statistical purposes meeting requirements of the Census Bureau. [Adapted from <>] (use for MSAs)
territorial waters
tribal areas
Areas reserved for indigenous inhabitants. (use for indian reservations, indian reserves, reservations (indian))
exclusive economic zones
Offshore areas whose extent is governed by the UN convention on Law of the Sea, where some economic activities are restricted. Extends generally 200 nautical miles from national coastlines. (use for EEZ)
hydrographic features
For natural bodies of water. For constructed waterways, reservoirs, and such, use 'hydrographic structures'. (use for bodies of water, eddies, fluvial features, marine features, overfalls, upwellings, water bodies, waterholes, whirlpools)
Bodies of rock that contain sufficient saturated permeable material to conduct ground water and to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Indentations of a coastline or shoreline enclosing a part of a body of water; bodies of water partly surrounded by land. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for bahias, coves, embayments)
Long narrow glacially-eroded inlets of the sea, U-shaped and steep-walled, generally several hundred meters deep, between high rocky cliffs or slopes along a mountainous coast. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for fiords, lochs)
(a) Relatively narrow seas or stretches of water between two close landmasses and connecting two larger bodies of water; (b) Deeper parts of a moving body of water (as bays, estuaries, or straits) through which the main current flows or which affords the best passage through an area otherwise too shallow to navigate. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for chutes (hydrographic), cutoffs (hydrographic), inlets, lake channels, marine channels, narrows (hydrographic), navigation channels, reaches (hydrographic), sounds (bodies of water), straits)
drainage basins
Regions or areas bounded by drainage divides and occupied by drainage systems; specifically the tract of country that gathers water originating as precipitation and contributes it to a particular stream channel or system of channels, or to a lake, reservoir, or other body of water. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for catchments, headwaters, watersheds)
Regions of interaction between rivers and near-shore ocean waters, where tidal action and river flow mix fresh and salt water. These brackish water ecosystems shelter and feed marine life, birds, and wildlife.. [EPA Terms of Environment <>]
Flat or nearly flat land along a river or stream or in a tidal area that is covered by water during a flood. [EPA Terms of Environment <>] (use for bottomlands)
Largest of various forms of inlets of the sea; usually larger, more enclosed, and more deeply indented than bays. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Relatively small coastal waterways connecting larger bodies of water or other waterways. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>]
ice masses
Fields of ice, formed in regions of perennial frost. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for ice fields, ice patches, ice sheets, icebergs, icecap depressions, icecap domes, icecaps, icefalls)
glacier features
Bodies or streams of ice moving outward and downslope from an area of accumulation; areas of relatively permanent snow or ice on the top or side of a mountain or mountainous area. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for glaciers, nunataks)
Natural inland bodies of standing water, generally of appreciable size, occupying a depression in the Earth's surface. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for beaver ponds, crater lakes, dry lakes, fish ponds, fishponds, inland seas, intermittent lakes, intermittent oxbow lakes, intermittent ponds, intermittent pools, intermittent salt lakes, intermittent salt ponds, lagoons, laguna, lake beds, lochs, millponds, oxbow lakes, ponds, pools (water bodies), salt evaporation ponds, salt lakes, salt ponds, tarns)
Large bodies of salt water. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>]
Continuous salt-water bodies that surround the continents and fill the Earth's great depressions. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
ocean currents
Broadly, currents in the ocean - tidal or nontidal, permanent or seasonal, horizontal or vertical - characterized by regularity, either as a continuous streams flowing along a definable path, or less commonly of a cyclic nature. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for currents)
ocean regions
Use for sub-regions of oceans and seas. (use for marine regions)
Linear bodies of water flowing on the Earth's surface. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for anabranches, brooks, burns (hydrographic), confluences, creeks, distributaries, dry stream beds, forks (physiographic features), intermittent streams, lost rivers, meanders, stream bends, stream mouths, tidal creeks, tributaries, watercourses)
Natural freshwater surface streams of considerable volume and a permanent or seasonal flow, moving in a definite channel toward a sea, lake, or another river; any large streams, or ones larger than brooks or creeks, such as the trunk stream and larger branches of a drainage system. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for rios)
bends (river)
Curves in the course of a stream and (or) the land within the curve; curves in a linear body of water. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for river bends)
Fast-flowing sections of a stream, often shallow and with exposed rock or boulders. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>]
Perpendicular or very steep falls of water in the course of a stream. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for cascades, cataracts, falls)
springs (hydrographic)
Places where underground water flows naturally to the surface of the Earth. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for mineral springs, sulfur springs)
thermal features
Holes in the Earth's crust from which hot water and steam (geysers), and gases and vapors (fumaroles) are emitted. [Adapted from USGS Circ 1048 and Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for fumaroles, geysers, hot springs)
land parcels
Tracts or plots of the Earth's surface distinguishable by ownership. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for claims (land), estates, land grants, lots (land parcels), tracts)
manmade features
agricultural sites
Use for locations and facilities named for their agricultural purposes of raising crops and livestock. (use for agricultural facilities, agricultural reserves, bailing stations, banana plantations, barns, cattle dipping tanks, corrals, cotton plantations, croplands, cultivated areas, cultivated croplands, dairies, farms, farmsteads, feedlots, fields, granges, grazing allotments, irrigated fields, nurseries, oil palm plantations, orchards, pastoral sites, pastures, plantations, ranches, rice fields, rubber plantations, sheepfolds, sisal plantations, stockyards, sugar plantations, tea plantations, vineyards)
Permanent constructions that are roofed and usually walled. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for United States Government establishments, administrative facilities, adminstrative facilities, animal pounds, animal shelters, aquariums, barns, border posts, cabins, castles, city halls, civic centers, civil buildings, club houses, coast guard stations, commissaries, community centers, community houses, conference facilities, consulates, convention centers, customs houses, customs posts, depots, embassy buildings, exhibition buildings, facilities, facility centers, fire stations, firehouses, forest stations, government buildings, guard stations, halls, headquarters, hostels, hotels, houses, inns, inspection stations, legation buildings, lodges, missions, motels, neighborhood centers, offices, park headquarters, patrol posts, pavilions, planetariums, plazas, police posts, public buildings, ranger stations, restaurants, shelters, shops, stations, structures, student unions, studios, substations, taverns, town halls, trading posts, treatment plants, visitor centers, walls, warehouses)
capitol buildings
Buildings in which governmental legislatures meet. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
commercial sites
Structures or groups of structures used for the sale of products and services. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for banks (commercial), breweries, business centers, companies, malls, marketplaces, markets, shopping centers, shopping malls, stores, wineries)
industrial sites
Groups of associated structures functioning as a unit used for refining a material or manufacturing a product. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for blast furnaces, canneries, cement plants, cooper works, cotton gins, distilleries, factories, forges, foundaries, furnaces (industrial), gas-oil separation plants, grist mills, industrial areas, industrial parks, limekilns, mill sites, mills, millsites, munitions plants, oil refineries, olive oil mills, ore treatment plants, phosphate works, plants (industrial), processing plants, production buildings, refineries, sawmills, smelters, sugar mills, sugar refineries, tank farms, whaling stations)
power generation sites
Groups of associated structures functioning as a unit used for generating electricity. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for electric plants, generating centers, generation sites, hydroelectric power stations, nuclear power plants, power plants, power stations, powerhouses, solar power generation sites, steam plants, windmill power generation sites)
court houses
Buildings housing judicial courts, or the offices of a county governments. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for courthouses, municipal courts)
institutional sites
Groups of buildings or associated structures functioning as a unit used predominantly for educational. correctional, governmental, medical, or religious purposes. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for institutes, institutions)
correctional facilities
Buildings and installations for the treatment of offenders (through a system of penal incarceration, rehabilitation, probation, and parole). [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for detention camps, detention centers, detention homes, honor camps, honor farms, jails, juvenile facilities, labor camps, penal camps, penal farms, penitentiaries, prisons, reformatories)
educational facilities
Buildings or groups of buildings used as institutions for study, teaching, and learning. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for academies, agricultural schools, campuses, colleges, military schools, schools, seminaries, training centers, universities)
medical facilities
(use for asylums, clinics, convalescent centers, dispensaries (medical), health facilities, hospitals, infirmaries, leprosariums, medical centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, sanatariums, sanatoriums, veterinary facilities)
religious facilities
Places built for the observance of faith and the pursuit of a religious life. (use for cathedrals, chapels, churches, convents, monasteries, mosques, novitiates, religious centers, religious populated places, religious sites, retreats (religious), sanctuaries (religious), synagogues, tabernacles, temples)
library buildings
(use for archive buildings, archives, libraries)
museum buildings
Buildings where the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value takes place. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for art galleries, galleries, museums)
post office buildings
Buildings where mail is received, sorted, and delivered, and where stamps and other postal materials are sold. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for post offices)
research facilities
(use for accelerators, archaeological centers, atomic centers, experiment stations, laboratories, observatories, observatorios, proving grounds, radio observatories, reflectors, research institutes, scientific research bases, space centers, telescopes, weather stations)
data collection facilities
(use for meteorological stations, satellite stations)
residential sites
(use for apartment blocks, apartment houses, barracks, childrens homes, condominiums, dormitories, homes, leper colonies, mansions, mobile home sites, monasteries, novitiates, nursing homes, orphanages, palaces, parsonages, rectories, rowhouses, trailer parks (residential), villas)
housing areas
Groups of buildings and neighborhoods in which people live. (use for country houses, dwellings, guest houses, hermitages, houses, housing developments, huts, neighborhoods (residential), subdivisions)
mobile home parks
Areas of land for burying the dead with two or more graves. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for burying grounds, grave sites, graves, graveyards, mausoleums, memorial gardens, sepulchers, tombs)
disposal sites
Areas where refuse is dumped. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for dumps, incinerators, landfills, mine dumps, refuse disposal sites, sanitary landfills, scrap yards, slag heaps, tailing ponds, tailings, waste disposal sites, wrecking yards)
Areas cleared of vegetation for the purpose of impeding the progress of a grass or forest fire. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for fuelbreaks)
Pools of water and related structures used for spawning and growing of fish (that are subsequently used to stock lakes and streams). [USGS Circ 1048] (use for aquacultural sites, fish farms, fish hatcheries, hatcheries, trout farms)
General term for any works made to oppose a small number of troops against a greater. [Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus] (use for castles, forts, moats (manmade), redoubts, stockades)
historical sites
(use for battle grounds, battle sites, battlefields, dry stream beds, historic sites, historical landmarks, historical markers, historical parks, lake beds, massacre sites, ruins, war zones, wreck sites, wrecks)
archaeological sites
Areas of historical significance containing the deteriorated remains of a structure(s) or where past human life and activities are under study. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for ancient sites, archeological sites, burial caves, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, pyramids)
hydrographic structures
For constructed bodies of water. For natural water bodies, use 'hydrographic features'. (use for boat landings, boat launches, boat ramps, sluices, water mills)
Structures built to break the force of waves or to restrain or direct current so as to protect a breach, harbor, or other waterfront facility. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for moles (structural), seawalls)
Artificial waterways with no flow or a controlled flow used for navigation (canal), or for draining or irrigating land (ditch). [USGS Circ 1048] (use for canal bends, canalized streams, ditch mouths, ditches, drainage canals, drainage ditches, drains (channels), flumes (manmade), irrigation canals, irrigation ditches, irrigation systems, laterals, navigation canals, underground irrigation canals)
dam sites
Areas including a dam and associated structures functioning to control the flow or raise the level of water. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for dams, spillways, sub-surface dams, weirs)
gaging stations
Structures used to measure the condition of a hydrographic feature. [USGS Circ 1048]
Sheltered areas of water where ships or other watercraft can anchor or dock. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for anchorages, anclajes, boat yards, boatyards, dock yards, docking basins, dockyards, dry docks, harbours, marine terminals, moorings, ports, roadsteads (anchorages), turning basins)
Harbor facilities for recreational craft where supplies, repairs, and various services are available. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for boat houses, boathouses)
Artificial embankments built along the bank of a watercourse or an arm of the sea, to protect land from inundation or to confine streamflow to its channel. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for berms, dikes (manmade), embankments, revetments)
offshore platforms
Structures erected in a sea primarily, but not exclusively, for the extraction of petroleum products. [Adapted from USGS Circ 1048] (use for artificial islands, oil platforms, platforms (offshore))
Structures used to protect a harbor or shore, and serving also as a promenade or as landing places for vessels. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for docks, jetties, quays, wharves)
Artificially impounded bodies of water. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for covered reservoirs, intermittent reservoirs)
Water facilities, including tanks, buildings, pumps, and pipes, that process water for cities, towns, or other municipalities. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for filter plants, filtration plants, sewage treatment plants, treatment plants, water plants, water treatment plants, water works)
launch facilities
Areas from which rockets/missiles may be housed and projected, usually equipped with associated buildings and facilities. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for missile sites)
mine sites
Places or areas from which commercial minerals are or were removed by excavation from the Earth. [Adapted from USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for adits (mine sites), chrome mines, coal mines, collieries, copper mines, diatomite mines, gold mines, gravel pits, iron mines, lead mines, mine entrances, mine shafts, mines, mining areas, mining camps, nickel mines, open pit mines, placer mines, quarries, salt mines, strip mines, tin mines)
Structures erected as memorials. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for cairns, landmarks (monuments), memorials, national monuments, pyramids, shrines, statues, tombs)
oil fields
Areas with reserves of recoverable petroleum or where petroleum has been removed from the Earth. [Adapted from USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for gas fields, gasfields, oilfields, petroleum fields, storage fields (petroleum))
Places or areas developed for public use or recreation. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for arboretums, botanical gardens, commemorative areas, commons, gardens, marine parks, national forests, national parks, national seashores, park gates, picnic areas, playgrounds, provincial parks, public use areas, recreation areas, rest areas, scenic areas, state forests, state parks, urban parks, village squares, wilderness areas, zoological gardens, zoos)
viewing locations
(use for lookout (vista), observation points, vistas)
recreational facilities
(use for access areas, access sites, boardwalks, casinos, clubs (recreational), country clubs, fairgrounds, fishing areas, fishing lodges, fitness centers, gun clubs, hunt posts, hunting lodges, ice skating rinks, playgrounds, recreation sites, resorts, riding stables, spas, sportsman lodges, stables, yacht clubs, youth centers, youth facilities)
amusement parks
Commercially operated enterprises that offer rides, games, and other forms of entertainment. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
Designated areas on which primitive structure(s) are erected for temporary shelter or where recreational vehicles are temporarily parked. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for RV parks, campgrounds, camping sites, logging camps, oil camps, refugee camps, trailer parks (recreational))
performance sites
Buildings where cultural events are presented before an audience. (use for amphitheaters, amphitheatres, auditoriums, bowls (performance), coliseums, concert halls, opera houses, playhouses, recital halls, stages (performance), symphony halls, theaters, theatres)
sports facilities
Fields, centers, or open areas maintained for the purpose of holding sporting events and activities. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for aquatic centers, arenas, athletic complexes, athletic fields, ball parks, baseball fields, dragways, equestrian centers, fields, football fields, golf clubs, golf courses, gymnasiums, natatoriums, physical education facilities, pistol ranges (sport), polo fields, pools, swimming, race tracks, racecourses, racetracks, raceways, rifle ranges, rodeo grounds, shooting ranges (sport), skeet shooting ranges, ski areas, ski facilities, ski trails, speedways, stadiums, swim clubs, swimming pools, tennis clubs, tennis courts)
reference locations
(use for astronomical stations, beacons, bench marks, boundaries, boundary markers, buoys, control points, geodetic stations, geographic centers, landmarks (reference locations), light houses, light stations, lighthouses, markers, milestones, plaques, poles (sphere), triangulation stations, walls)
research areas
(use for experimental areas, experimental fields, field campaigns, observation sites, study areas, test sites)
ecological research sites
(use for LTERs)
paleontological sites
Sites with notable fossil remains.
Areas set aside for the preservation of fauna, flora, and their natural habitats. [Macmillan Encyc., 2001] (use for agricultural reserves, conservation areas, demonstration areas, environmental areas, forest reserves, game management areas, hunting reserves, management areas (reserves), natural areas, nature reserves, palm tree reserves, preserves, primitive areas, protected areas, reservations (nature sites), roadless areas, sanctuaries (wildlife), wildlife areas, wildlife refuges, wildlife reserves)
storage structures
Large containers used for storage. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for cisterns, elevators (agricultural), storage tanks, storehouses, warehouses, water tanks)
telecommunication features
(use for antenna field sites, communication centers, radio stations, television stations, transmission lines)
Manmade structures, higher than their diameter, generally used for observation, storage, or electronic transmission. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for carillons, fire lookouts, pagodas)
transportation features
(use for air routes, caravan routes, corridors, crossings, depots, ferries, fords (crossings), fuel depots, gates (manmade), halting places (transportation), highway maintenance sites, portages, resthouses, routes, ship tracks, stock routes, terminals (transportation), transit facilities)
airport features
Manmade facilities maintained for the use of aircraft. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for airbases, airfields, airports, airstrips, landing fields, landing strips, runways)
Places for helicopters to land and take off. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for helibases, helipads, helistops)
seaplane bases
Installations supporting aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. [NIMA Feature Attribute Coding Catalog (FACC)] (use for amphibious bases, seaplane landing areas)
Structures designed to transport water from a remote source, usually by gravity. [USGS Circ 1048]
Structures erected over a depression or obstacle to carry traffic. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for covered bridges, drawbridges, overpasses, trestles, viaducts)
Conveyor systems in which carrier units run on wire cables strung between supports. [USGS Circ 1048]
Stretches of water in canals, streams, or docks, enclosed by gates at each end, and used in raising and lowering boats as they pass from one water level to another. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
parking sites
Designated areas where motor vehicles are left temporarily. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for garages, parking lots)
Tubular conduits of substantial length, with pumps, valves, and control devices, for conveying fluids, gases, or finely divided solids. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for compressor stations, gas pipelines, oil pipeline junctions, oil pipeline terminals, oil pipelines, oil pumping stations, pump houses, pumphouses, pumping stations, water pumping stations)
railroad features
(use for metrorail stations, railroad junctions, railroad sidings, railroad spurs, railroad stations, railroad stops, railroad switches, railroad yards, railways, subway stations, switches (railroad), tramways)
Open ways for passage of vehicles. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for caravan routes, causeways, drives, highways, intersections, parkways, road bends, road cuts, road junctions, roads, streets, traffic circles)
Cleared paths, beaten tracks, or improved surfaces, as through woods or wilderness, not usually trafficked by vehicles because of width, seasonal conditions, or access restrictions. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for promenades, steps (manmade), trailheads, walking paths)
Underground or underwater passages. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for canal tunnels, railroad tunnels, road tunnels)
Manmade shafts or holes in the Earth's surface used to obtain fluid or gaseous materials. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for oil wells, water wells)
Mills or other machines that run on the energy generated by a wheel of adjustable blades or flats rotated by the wind. [USGS Circ 1048]
physiographic features
(use for aprons (geological), blowholes, blowouts, boulder fields, cones (geological), crevasses, fissures, furrows, geological features, grades (physiographic), hammocks, inclines, landslides, meander necks, pitches (physiographic), polders, potholes, rockfalls, sinkholes, sinks, siphon (physiographic), slides (natural), slopes, talus slopes, terraces (physiographic), uplands)
alluvial fans
Fan-shaped deposits of alluvium (river or stream-bed sediment). (use for fans (alluvial))
Small deep flat-floored channels or gullies of an ephemeral stream or of an intermittent stream, usually with vertical or steeply cut banks. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for coulees, gullies, wadi bends, wadi junctions, wadi mouths, wadis, washes)
Areas characterized by a maze of very closely spaced, deep, narrow, steep-sided ravines, and sharp crests and pinnacles. [NIMA GEONet Designation ... Definitions <> ]
banks (hydrographic)
Sloping margins of, or the ground bordering, a stream, and serving to confine the water to the natural channel during the normal course of flow. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for stream banks)
bars (physiographic)
Natural accumulations of sand, gravel, or other material forming an underwater or exposed embankment. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for quicksand areas, sandbars, shoals, spits)
Bowl-shaped, natural depressions in the surface of the land or ocean floor. [Adapted from USGS Circ 1048] (use for asphalt lakes, depressions, pans (geologic))
storage basins
Basins in which drainage water is naturally detained. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for flood control basins, floodways, retention basins)
Sloping shores along a body of water that is washed by waves or tides and is usually covered by sand or gravel. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for sandy areas, strands)
Long gradual bends or gentle curves, or slight crescent-shaped indentations, in the shoreline of an open coast or of a bay. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Projection of land extending into a body of water that prominently marks a change in or interrupts the coastal trend of that water body. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for headlands, peninsulas, points (physiographic), promontories)
Natural underground passageways or chambers, or hollowed out cavities in the side of a cliff. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for cave entrances, caverns, grottoes, natural tunnels, underground lakes)
Bowl-like hollows partially surrounded by cliffs or steep slopes at the head of a glaciated valley. [NIMA GEONet Designation ... Definitions <>] (use for cwms)
High vertical, near-vertical, or overhanging faces of rock, earth, or ice. [USGS Circ. 1048] (use for bluffs, clefts, escarpments, precipices, scraps)
Circular-shaped depressions at the summit of a volcanic core or on the surface of the land caused by the impact of a meteorite; man-made depressions caused by an explosion. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for calderas)
Flat plains formed by alluvial deposits at the mouth of a stream. [NIMA GEONet Designation ... Definitions <>]
Low mounds, ridges, banks, or hills of loose, wind-blown granular material, either bare or covered with vegetation, capable of movement from place to place but always retaining their characteristic shape. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for interdune troughs, sandy areas)
Relatively level areas within regions of greater relief. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for sabkhas)
Ravines or gorges cut deeply through mountain ridges, or between hills or mountains. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for cols, defiles, passes, saddles (physiographic), sills (physiographic))
Narrow sections of land in a body of water connecting two larger land areas. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>]
karst areas
Areas of geologic formations of irregular limestone deposits with sinks, underground streams, and caverns. [EPA Terms of Environment <>]
Narrow shelves or projections of rock formed on a rock wall or cliff face. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for benches (natural))
Massive topographic and structural features, commonly formed of rocks more rigid than those of their surroundings. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Very broad, flat-topped, usually isolated hills or mountains of moderate height bounded on at least one side by a steep cliff or slope and representing an erosion remnant. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for buttes)
mineral deposit areas
Areas where masses of naturally occurring mineral material are found, e.g. metal ores or nonmetallic minerals. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for coal fields, coalfields, lodes (mineral), petroleum basins, placers, salt deposit areas)
Accumulations of earth and stones carried and deposited by a glacier. [USGS Circ 1048]
Landmasses that project conspicuously above their surroundings. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for cerros, cordilleras, foothills, hills, knolls, mounds, mounts)
continental divides
Drainage divides that separate streams flowing towards opposite sides of a continent, often into different oceans. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
mountain ranges
(a) Chains of hills or mountains; (b) somewhat linear, complex mountainous or hilly areas. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for ranges (physiographic), sierra)
mountain summits
Peaks of mountains. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for ahus, mountain crests, nunataks, peaks, summits)
Elevations with a narrow, elongated crest which can be part of a hill or mountain. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for aretes, beach ridges, cuestas, eskers, hogbacks, icecap ridges, rises (seafloor), spurs (physiographic))
Low, smoothly rounded, elongate oval hills, mounds or ridges of compact glacial till built under the margin of the ice and shaped by its flow, or carved out of an older moraine by readvancing ice. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
natural rock formations
Naturally formed topographic features, commonly differing conspicuously from adjacent objects or material. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for crags, pillars (natural formation), pinnacles (natural formation), rock towers, rocks)
arches (natural formation)
Natural arch-like openings in a rock mass. [USGS GNIS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for natural bridges, sea arches)
Regions of general uniform slope, comparatively level and of considerable extent. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for interfluves, llanos)
Comparatively flat areas of great extent and elevation; specif. extensive land regions considerably above the adjacent country or above sea level; commonly limited on at least one side by an abrupt descent, have flat or nearly smooth surfaces but are often dissected by deep valleys and surmounted by high hills or mountains, and have a large part of their total surface at or near the summit level. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for table mountains, tablelands)
Closed depressions in an arid or semi-arid region that are periodically inundated by surface runoff, or the salt flat within such a closed basin.[Encyc. Dictionary of Physical Geography] (use for chotts, kavirs)
Chains of rocks or coral at or near the surface of water. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for barrier reefs, fringing reefs)
coral reefs
Chains of coral at or near the surface. [USGS Circ 1048]
seafloor features
(use for arrugados, banks (seafloor), benches (seafloor), holes (seafloor), moats (seafloor), ocean floor features, ramps (seafloor), rises (seafloor), seachannels (seafloor), shelf valleys (seafloor), subsea features, tongues (seafloor), underwater features)
abyssal features
Features on the ocean floor at a depth of 3500 - 6000 meters. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for abyssal hills, abyssal plains)
continental margins
Ocean floor between the shoreline and the abyssal ocean floor. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for borderlands (continental margins), continental rises, continental shelves, continental slopes, platforms (continental margins), shelf edges (ocean), shelves, continental)
fracture zones
Elongated zones of unusually irregular topography on the deep-sea floor that often separate regions of different depths [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
hydrothermal vents
Cracks along a rift or ridge in the deep ocean floor that spews out water heated to high temperature by the magma under the Earth's crust. [Columbia Electronic Encyc., 1999]
ocean trenches
Narrow, elongate depressions of the deep-sea floor associated with a subduction zone. They are oriented parallel to volcanic arcs and commonly to the edge of the continent, between the continental margin and the abyssal hills. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for deep-sea trenches, deeps (ocean), trenches (seafloor), troughs (seafloor))
Elevations of the sea floor, 1000 m or higher, either flat-topped (guyots) or peaked (seapeaks). [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for guyots, seapeaks, tablemounts (seafloor))
submarine canyons
Steep-sided, V-profile valley often heading in the continental shelf running down the continental slope, having tributaries and resembling unglaciated, river-cut land canyons. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
tectonic features
Features resulting from structural deformation of the earth's crust through tectonic processes. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
earthquake features
Fractures in the Earth's crust accompanied by a displacement of one side of the fracture with respect to the other. [UGSG Circ 1048] (use for normal faults, reverse faults, strike-slip faults, thrust faults, transverse faults)
fault zones
Areas characterized by fractures in the Earth's crust. [Adapted from UGSG Circ 1048] (use for grabens, transform faults)
rift zones
Divergent tectonic plate boundaries. (use for mid-ocean ridges)
folds (geologic)
Curves or bends of a planar structure such as rock strata, bedding planes, foliation or cleavage; usually products of deformation. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Geologic folds in surface strata sloping downward on both sides from a common crest. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for domes (physiographic))
Trough-shaped folds or downfolds in folded rock strata, the strata dipping towards a central axis. [Macmillan Encyc., 2001]
subduction zones
Convergent tectonic plate boundaries in which one plate is moving downward.
Low-lying land bordered by higher ground; especially elongate, relatively large gently sloping depressions of the Earth's surface, commonly situated between two mountains or between ranges of hills or mountains, and often containing a stream with an outlet. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for forks (physiographic features), glens, hanging valleys, hollows, median valleys, shelf valleys (seafloor))
Relatively narrow, deep depressions with steep sides, the bottom of which generally has a continuous slope [NIMA GEONet Designation ... Definitions <>] (use for barrancas, chasms, flumes (natural), gorges, gulches, quebradas, ravines)
volcanic features
Features formed from those igneous rocks that have reached or nearly reached the Earth's surface before solidifying. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for crater lakes, dykes (geologic))
lava fields
Areas of formations resulting from the consolidation of molten rock on the surface of the Earth. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for lava areas)
Vents in the surface of the Earth through which magma and associated gases erupt; also, the forms or structures, usually conical, that are produced by the erupted material. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for volcanos)
(a) Large, indefinite portions of the earth's surface. (b) Specified districts or territories. (c) Areas of interest or activity; spheres. (d) Ecology. Parts of the earth characterized by distinctive animal or plant life. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
agricultural regions
(use for corn belts, rice growing regions, wheat belts)
biogeographic regions
Geographic regions characterized chiefly by the dominant forms of plant life and the prevailing climate. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for biomes, ecoregions, vegetation)
barren lands
Places composed of bare rock, sand, gravel, or other earthen material with little or no vegetation and having limited ability to support life. [USGS Circ 1048]
Regions rendered barren or partially barren by environmental extremes, especially by low rainfall. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for arid regions, bajadas, rock deserts, sandy areas, sandy deserts, stony deserts)
Dense growths of trees, plants, and underbrush covering a large area. [American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.] (use for forest reserves, national forests)
petrified forests
Fossilized remains of large dense growths of trees. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for fossilized forests)
rain forests
Forests where the annual rainfall is at least 100 inches. The regions are characterized by tall, lush, evergreen trees. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Small areas covered with a dense growth of trees. [USGS Feature Class Definitions <>] (use for coconut groves, groves, olive groves, palm groves, pine groves, trees)
Extensive noncultivated areas where vegetation is dominated by grasses or grass-like plants. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for clearings, glades, grazing areas, meadows, pampas, prairies, savannahs, savannas)
Particular environments or places where an organism or species tends to live. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for beaver dams, rookeries)
Tropical regions of wild, tangled, dense vegetation. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Fertile, vegetated areas in the midst of a desert, where the water table has come close enough to the surface for wells and springs or seepages to exist, thus making them suitable for human habitation. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Areas covered with low-growing or stunted perennial vegetation and usually not mixed with trees. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for bushes, chapparal areas, heaths, moors, scrublands)
snow regions
(a) Broad expanses of terrain covered with snow, relatively smooth and uniform in appearance, occurring usually at high latitudes or in mountainous regions above the snowline, and persisting throughout the year. (b) Regions of permanent snow cover, as at the heads of glaciers. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for snowfields)
Treeless, level, or gently rolling plains characteristic of arctic or subarctic regions, having a permanently frozen subsoil, and usually supporting low growing vegetation such as lichens, mosses, and stunted shrubs. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for Arctic land)
Vegetated areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water for a significant part of the year. The vegetation is adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. [USGS Circ 1048] (use for backwaters, bayous, bogs, cienagas, fens, forested wetlands, intermittent wetlands, mangrove swamps, marshes, mires, mud flats, peat cutting areas, peatlands, quagmires, riparian areas, salt marshes, sloughs, slues, swamps, tidal flats)
climatic regions
Regions whose ecologic formations result from or are influenced by differences in climate. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
coastal zones
Strips of land (of indefinite width) that extend from the low-tide line inland to the first major change in landform features. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for coastal plains, coasts, intertidal zones, offshore areas, shorelines, shores)
economic regions
land regions
Use for land areas distinguished from ocean areas as well as general land-based regions without a more specific type designation. (use for lake districts, lake regions)
Earth's major land masses, including both dry land and continental shelves. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
Tracts of land smaller than a continent, surrounded by the water of an ocean, sea, lake or stream. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for atolls, cays, island arcs, isles, islets, keys (islands), land-tied islands, mangrove islands)
Seas or areas in a sea that contain numerous islands; also, the island groups themselves. [Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
(a) Divisions or parts of a continent having characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the continent. These subdivision are typically based on geologic or geomorphic characteristics. (b) Large land masses smaller than any of the seven recognized continents. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.]
linguistic regions
map regions
chart regions
Map regions showing coastlines, water depths, or other information of use to navigators. [Adapted from American Heritage Dic. of the English Language, 4th ed.]
map quadrangle regions
Regions on rectangular maps bounded by parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude, generally published in a series with prescribed scale. [Adapted from Glossary of Geology, 4th ed.] (use for quadrangle regions, topographic quadrangle regions)
UTM zones
Gridded areas of the Earth's surface resulting from the use of the Universal Transverse Mercator projection and the international coding conventions for labeling the zones.