GEOS5350 – Geologic and Environmental GIS
Introduction to ArcGIS
(ArcMap and ArcCatalog)
About the Lab:
The purpose of this first lab is to help get you familiar with how data is stored and
retrieved in ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap and ArcCatalog). In doing this you will take
data which is already in a format understood by ArcGIS, and combine several
layers to create a generalized geologic map.
About the Data:
The data which you will be using in the labs are from:
1) Earth Science Remote Sensing Lab WMU www.esrs.wmich.edu
2) Michigan Spatial Data Library at http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/mgdl/
3) Kalamazoo GIS Maps
4) Later on in the semester we will also download data from the USGS
through the Eros Data Center http://www.usgs.gov/
The data for Lab # 1 are located in the following folder:
Every time I use data from a new online source, I will try to give you a link for the
data. I highly recommend going to each of these sites and seeing what additional
data is available. You may be quite surprised at the extent of available data. In
the U.S., some states have just about everything you could ask for online, others
have very little. Different countries have mixed attitudes as to what should be
widely available. These sites could be very useful when it comes time to finding
data either for your project, or at another time in your professional career.
Throughout the lab there will be questions. Please create a word file which
contains the questions and the answers to these questions to submit for your lab
report. There are not too many in this lab, since most of this lab is focused
towards generating products to be used later in the semester. You will also be
asked to make screen captures as you go along, and insert these in your report
as well. In generating outputs, you will be asked to generate jpg files, and insert
them into word, rather than printing hard copies.
Getting the data:
At this point you will need to retrieve the data for the lab
The data is available to download from:
Create a folder on the local machine or your flash drive and download the data
into your folder for Exercise #1.
*Recognizing ArcFiles using different map drives!
ArcCatalog is the tool for browsing, organizing, distributing, and documenting
your GIS data.
From the start menu, select Programs…ArcGIS…ArcCatalog
ArcCatalog will start.
The Catalog tree on the left side of the ArcCatalog window is for browsing and
organizing your GIS data. The contents of the current branch are displayed on
the right side of the Catalog window.
Next you will navigate to where you stored your data;
In ArcCatalog, select File…Connect Folder
Select the directory you created above.
When you do this, ArcCatalog will connect to your data folder. If you did this step
correctly, the folder, and it’s contents will appear in the left hand window of the
ArcCatalog Screen (The Table of Contents or TOC window), which functions like
the windows file browser.
It should look something like this:
Viewing data in Arc Catalog
When you need more information about a branch of the
Catalog tree, you can use the Contents, Preview, and
Metadata tabs to view your data in different ways.
This is a Contents View:
This is a Preview View
This is a Metadata view:
Examining Properties of a file:
Select the file Bedrock.shp. Look in the Contents View.
1) What kind of file is it?
Select the Preview tab. This will give you an idea what the contents of the file
2) What general area does it cover?
Select the Metadata tab…Spatial Tab.
3) What is the name of the Coordinate System?
4) What are the Horizontal Bounds of the file?
5) What units are they in?
Maps and layers:
Maps and layers are important ways of organizing and displaying data in ArcGIS.
Maps, such as everyday paper maps, can contain many kinds of data. The data
on a map is organized into layers, which are drawn on the map in a particular
order. Each map contains a page layout where graphic elements, such as
legends, North arrows, scale bars, text, and other graphics are arranged. The
layout shows the map page as it will be printed. Layers define how a set of
geographic features will be drawn when they are added to a map. They also act
as shortcuts to the place where the data is actually stored, not necessarily the
same place as where the layer file is stored. In this case, both the map and the
layer refer to data that is stored in the Data folder.
The tool you use to do these tasks is ArcMap.
Now start ArcMap (Start…Programs…ArcGIS…ArcMap). At the dialog box,
select create a new map.
The window should start something like this, though without as many open
The frame on the left side is called the table of contents frame,
This is where a listing of your data shows up when you add the file.
The pane on the right side is your display frame. This is where your data displays
after it is loaded.
The area across the top, between the panes, and along the bottom houses all of
the active toolbars. These can also be floating in separate windows, if you prefer.
Drag the file Bedrock.shp from the TOC window in ArcCatalog into the TOC
window in ArcMap.
This will insert the Shapefile into ArcMap. The name should appear under Layers
in the TOC frame. The drawing should appear on the right side.
At this point, save your ArcMap file, using the File…Save (Ctrl-s) command.
Navigating in ArcMap
Before adding any more data you will have a chance to explore this data
The tools toolbar is probably floating free in your window. If it is, grab the
toolbar, and drag it to between the TOC and display windows. If you
can’t find it, go to View…Toolbars, and select the tools toolbar if there is
no check next to it.
From the top, the first 8 buttons are for navigation.
First, there are the zoom in and zoom out magnifying glasses, which allow
you to select an area and zoom in and out to it.
Next are the zoom in and zoom out fixed extent buttons, which zoom in
and out a fixed amount.
The hand button lets you pan around your display screen, moving up,
down, left and right.
The globe button zooms you to the full extent of your files, letting you see
the whole thing.
The two arrows let you go back to the previous extent, or forward to the
The Next button is the select features button, which allows a user to select
individual or groups of features
The black arrow is the Select Elements button, which allows a user select,
move and resize graphics elements.
The identify button lets you identify a feature, and its attributes by
The binoculars are the find button, which let you find specific features
based on attributes.
Zoom into the Kalamazoo area (Load the county.shp if you are unfamiliar with its
location). Use the identify tool to select a polygon, and look at the results which
pop up in the window.
6) What geologic formation is present near Kalamazoo?
7) What is the FID number?
Zoom back out to the full extent.
Next use the Find Button.
In the Find Field, put Antrim Shale
In the Search field select In Fields, then select LABEL
and press find.
8) How many polygons were found?
Right click on one, and select zoom to feature.
Right click again, and select identify feature, the identify window will come up,
and the polygon will flash, so that you can see which polygon it is.
Adding more data:
Next we will add several more data layers, one each for hydrology, elevation
models, and landuse.
Click on the add data button or File…Add Data. Add a number of files from your
folder including: wwells_39.shp, county.shp, allroads,_077v6b.shp, dem,
kalamazoo_sw.sid, hydropoly_077v6b.shp, .
9) What types of files are these? Looking at the DEM file what is the general
direction of surface water flow?
SWITCH TO VAN BUREN FILES! (Create a new ArcMap file)
*Add wwells_80.shp, bedrock.shp, van_buren_nlcd_1992.shp, county.shp
Being able to query or locate maps or data is a very useful tool for facilitating
Select Selection….Select By Attributes and input the numbers shown below.
10) Describe what this process did on the map and explain how this might be
Changing the Symbology
i.e. changing how things appear on the map.
At this point, the layers which you have added don’t show much. None of the
features are labeled, and none of the shapes in a layer look any different from
the other shapes.
The first thing you will do is make the Van_Buren_ncld_1992 (Van Buren
Landuse) layer have appropriate symbols for the various landuse classes. Right
click on the landuse layer in the ArcMap TOC window, and select Properties.
Select the Symbology tab. Select Categories…Change the Value_Field to
GRIDCODE and select Add All Values…then Apply.
You will notice that a key pops in the TOC pane. You will be able to add this to
your finished product to help in reading the map.
Now select the county layer. Again go to the properties window, to the symbology
tab. Select an appropriate color and thickness for the border line, but make the
inside fill hollow or no color.
At this point you probably want to save your work, given ArcMap’s fondness for
11) Screen capture your ArcMap file and insert it into your Word file.
Once you decide that you like how a particular layer of data is arranged and
presented, you can save that layer as a layer file. Right click on the layer name,
and click Save as Layer File. Once saved, all of the layer properties are saved,
so that when you load that layer file (not the shape file), all of the properties are
You will have noticed that the layers are all displayed one on top of another, in a
seemingly random order. You can change the order by grabbing a layer in the
TOC list, and moving it up or down in the order. Move the geology layer to the
back, and arrange the other layers as you see fit.
Simple Labeling of Features
Now your features appear with some sense of order, but nothing is labeled. You
will now label the polygons for the different geologic units.
Select the Bedrock layer, and right click for the properties window. Select the
Labels tab. Check the box for label features on this layer and for the Text String
put in LABEL
You can select the symbol box to change the font and text style to make your
map easier to read.
Select OK. Your units should now be labeled with the abbreviations for their
Layout (use DEM file)
At the bottom of the Display panel there are 3 buttons, The first is the Data view
(default), the second is the Layout View, and the third button refreshes the view.
The Layout view is how you control what is printed out on the page. There are a
variety of default layouts which you can examine at your leisure.
In the future, when you hand in a Map, I will expect you to have at a minimum a
Title, Scale and scale bar, a North Arrow, and a Legend. I will not be stating
this every time, but it will be expected as part of a completed map.
Press the Layout view button. This switches you to the layout view. The Layout
Toolbar will probably pop out at this point. Grab it and anchor it where you like.
Resize the data frame, so that you can fit other elements on the page. We will go
into data frame properties, and using multiple frames a little more in a future lab
Adding Titles Legends, North Arrows, Scale Bar, Etc
Once in the Layout View, legend parts can be selected
Give your map a meaningful title
Select Insert…Scale Bar
Choose a scale bar that you like
Change the units to something more useful for navigation than decimal
Select Insert…North Arrow
Again, choose one you like
You can create a legend for as many or as few layers as you like. In this case I
recommend making a legend only for the sample dataset (DEM File) being
displayed. To do this, put all of the layers in the legend. Select 3 or more
columns, to make the legend manageable, and select the defaults for the rest.
At the top of the window, next to the add data button is the scale selector. You
can type in a scale, or select or of the common pre-set scales.
When generating a map to use in the field, it is very important to choose a scale
which you can use with either a regular or engineers ruler
- Set the scale to 1:1,000,000
Your scale or extent can also be set and fixed using the properties window for
the entire data frame (right click on layers, select properties).
Finally, you are ready to print out your map. For the purposes of this lab you will
be creating a jpg image.
11) Go to file…Export Map
Select jpg as file type, and under options, set the dpi to 100
Save your Map as a jpg file.
Insert the map which you created into your Lab Word Document.