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Computer Map Retrievals from Large Files

William E. Bridges

Many exploration staffs consider computer-generated maps part of their routine work. More than 100,000 maps/year are delivered to operational personnel in some mapping centers. Many computer-generated maps exceed the clarity, accuracy, and content of hand-drafted maps, and retrieval and posting costs of a computer map can be less than the cost of a print made from a film by conventional reproduction techniques.

Computer mapping for geologists began 20 years ago when values were posted for exploration projects with limited geologic objectives and were restricted to small geographic areas. Since then, the variety, number, and timeliness of computer maps have increased in proportion to: (1) the user community's knowledge; (2) the quantity of digital data; (3) the program dependability; and (4) the availability of better hardware. When users integrate computer maps into their work, their expectations increase and they become more critical of delays and file errors. This user dissatisfaction provides the motivation and economic justification for introducing better computer services.

An average geologist can use about three maps each day derived from today's files. Map costs continue to decrease and the amount of digital data increases. Presently, explorationists have difficulty manipulating their own data, and each company must decide whether to use personal computers, distributed workstations, or partitioned central files.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.