In response to the need for updated topographic maps, the USGS has developed a new national map series called the US Topo. Production of these maps began in earnest in June 2009 and in a little over a year, the USGS National Geospatial Technical Operations Center has published more than 25,000 7.5-minute quadrangle maps. As of September 20, 2010, Minnesota was 83% complete with 1,241 quadrangles published.
These maps are modeled on the old topographic series, but are derived from the best available, existing government digital data, and are created semi-automatically using processes that will allow the entire contiguous US to be remapped every three years. Instead of printing and distributing paper copies, the entire US Topo collection will be available as digital files and distributed for free, through the Web, via the USGS Store.
US Topo maps do not have the handcrafted, artistic appearance of the original, manually produced topographic maps. However, they do include high-resolution color aerial imagery which provides visible content not available in the original map series. The US Topo maps are distributed in GeoPDF format, an extension of Adobe PDF with basic GIS functionality. Users can view and print GeoPDF files with Adobe Reader and they can do more with the data using a free plug-in called TerraGo Toolbar; for example, the plug-in allows users to measure distances between objects in the map, add comments to specific places on the map, view the files in conjunction with Google Maps, or integrate them with a GPS to track positions on the map. Users do not have to install this plug-in to view GeoPDF files.
The US Topo is a new kind of georeferenced map, representing an evolution of USGS paper topographic maps and a graphic synthesis of The National Map data files. The National Map, a cornerstone of the USGS National Geospatial Program, has also incorporated a new viewer that provides improved visualization and data delivery methods with foundational base maps and integrated download services. The new viewer has multiple options for selection and download capabilities for US Topo and other base data layers.
New coverage of US Topo maps in Minnesota should be complete in October 2010 and include the 2009 NAIP imagery as a base layer. The Map Locator application on the USGS Store website can be accessed for coverage information and to download US Topo maps. (US Topo maps for the Chippewa and Superior National Forests may not be completed until FY 2011 and some border quads along North Dakota will be produced in 2011 as part of that state’s US Topo production schedule.)
Earlier newsletter articles in Spring 2010 and Fall 2009 include previous information about US Topo and its predecessor, Digital Map-Beta.
Comments about the US Topo program can be provided via the US Topo website, or if you have additional questions about US Topo maps in Minnesota, contact Ron Wencl, USGS Geospatial Liaison at email@example.com