Oh my Gawd, oh my Gawd.
Y’all know how much I enjoy Google Earth. It is Buckminster Fuller’s interactive globe come true. Snow Crash’s Librarian. As time passes, it just keeps getting better and better.
To make the maps I make, I use some fairly expensive GIS software. But I can get all sorts of information, already digitized, so I don’t have to. That saves me time and my clients money.
In order to communicate better with my clients and colleagues, I use free software like SketchUp and Google Earth.
That, and I find that Google Earth is just a fun map interface to play with. So much easier to trace out a rock unit than the old stereoscope and areal photos.
Increasingly, when I’m on the hunt for map information, I find that governmental agencies are providing GIS information as Google Earth files (.kml and .kmz) in addition to the usual shape files. I recently worked on a project where the county had parcel ownership data formatted for Google Earth and it saved me a whole lot of time figuring out who owned what.
So, back to my ecstasy. I’m collaborating on a paper and have been sending fellow authors information about specific outcrops and want to put them into geologic context, which takes a map. Normally, I’d either scan a map, or spend hours compiling one. I decided to see if there was a geologic map of Colorado available for Google Earth to save me some time.
And praise be, the fine folks at the USGS have answered my prayers. The entire state geology map on my screen. The same one that is on my wall, but this zooms, pans, and when I click, it gives me all sorts of information.
Wait, there are other states too!
Strange. This is going to both save me lots of time and waste me lots of time.