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ABSTRACT: Application of Geographical Information Systems to Problems of Coal Resource Assessment

Gayle H. McCullough, Jr.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) can be divided into two categories. Vector GIS most intimately involves manipulating points, lines, and polygons that represent features on the surface of the earth. They are most effective where the features represented by these objects are of primary concern. These systems owe their origin to automated cartography, although they represent much more sophistication and utility than simple automated mapping packages. Vector systems are generally better at producing many of the types of maps that we are accustomed to than raster systems. Geologists generally relate to these systems, since they are accustomed to portraying their work on paper with points, lines, and polygons, although vector systems are frequently not the best for deali g with geologic data.

In contrast, raster GIS deals with the manipulation of grids of data. Many support vector overlay for display. They are generally better at manipulating and portraying continuously variable data, such as much geologic data, than vector systems. Raster GIS developed in the areas of remote sensing, renewable resource analysis, and spatial analysis in geography. The means of presenting data with raster systems can be less familiar than with vector systems although they are just as effective. Many geological data manipulation problems can be very math intensive and difficult in vector systems. These same operations often become trivial for raster systems.

Regional coal resource estimation is one of the many geological applications for a raster GIS, although many other applications are possible. Examples from preliminary research with a powerful yet simple raster GIS will be presented.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90998 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, London, Ontario, Canada, September 10-12, 1990