Can Anybody Make Maps?, part II

Earlier GG groused about some map projections that are (in his opinion) of little use (an opinion that insulted one of those who used that “projection”).  Some recent experience suggests even greater transgressions.

For some reason a lot of the thermochronological literature doesn’t list latitudes and longitudes with their data.  So to locate these points requires scanning their maps (the only place there is geographical data) and georeferencing them. And what happens when this is done?

You discover that the only located point is mislabeled.  That the scale bar is wrong by a factor of two.  That geologic contacts appear to be far afield. Towns or peaks are in the wrong places.  All of which suggests it is quite likely that the data points themselves are hopelessly lost. Just great, gang.

Now the good news is that these were papers from the 1990s, so maybe these failures are now gone from the literature.  We can only hope so.  Or maybe this is a deep ploy to keep geochronology going–after all, if you realize that the geographic position is important, you might have to go back and redo the study to be sure where things were…


5 responses to “Can Anybody Make Maps?, part II”

  1. naniemi says :

    I think that this is really just an extension of your complaint in part I. If you don’t know the map projection of the map in the figure (and almost nobody publishes projection information for maps that are included as figures in papers), it’s a complete guessing game to go from a scanned map back to the real-world coordinates of objects on that map. We have to do better as a community in recording and reporting geographic information for samples and important observations (and unfortunately, no, I don’t see that including latitude and longitude for thermochron/geochron/geochem samples has become a de facto standard in papers that cross my desk….)


    • cjonescu says :

      Yes, true, though at least most of the time the location map is at a large enough scale that, so long as it isn’t that awful computer-stupid projection, you can get pretty close. But indeed, some of the maps that were annoying were small scale maps where the projection would matter–and on a map like that with one (!) lat/lon point and a scale, you really have no hope. GG contemplates outing these bad maps, but it would be unfair as there are so many other bad maps that would be left out!


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