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An updated “USGS Topo Base Map” service named “USGS Topo” includes some new design changes and refreshed data content.

The new design includes a lighter gray-scale shaded relief, fewer boundary layers, and other cartographic refinements to simplify the base map. These improvements will enhance its use with more detailed science information or other theme based overlays to support a variety of applications. The service is designed to act as a “fast” base map for displaying updated content in familiar USGS topographic map symbology.

Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga, TN
Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga with improvements(Public domain.)

Because it is cached, the service should perform well at many different scales. The cache now supports visualization zooming to 1:9,000 scale (Level 17 in Google Maps tile levels) and is served from the “cloud” to help provide greater reliability. The service is available as both an Esri REST service enabling its use in ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online, and as a Web Map Tile Service (WMTS) for inclusion into many other interactive mapping applications. Service URL.

The “USGS Topo Base Map” service is built from downloadable, publicly available, National Map datasets. The geographic information available from The National Map includes:

  • orthoimagery (aerial photographs),
  • elevation,
  • geographic names,
  • hydrography,
  • boundaries,
  • transportation,
  • structures,
  • and land cover.

This National Map data also provides the building blocks for the ‘US Topo’ pdf-based product.

The previous version of the USGS Topo base map was only cached to 1:18,000 scale (level 16 in Google Maps tile levels) and was intended to be used with a slower dynamic service at scales when needing to support zoom below 1:18,000.  Now that the new service is available at a larger scale, the older partner dynamic service will be retired.

Full list of Web based map services are available from The National Map.

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