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From Conrad's Heart of Darkness1 to modern-day geocachers2, seeking out the blank spaces on maps has been a passion for many.

The USGS 7.5-minute paper topographic quadrangle maps, with their nearly two million named natural and manmade geographic features, hold a similar attraction for lovers of maps and the outdoors. In the past USGS sponsored several volunteer mapping programs but these are technologically out of date and inactive.

New ways to incorporate volunteered geographic information are being studied.

This website describes the history of volunteer map and data collection at the USGS and provides information on the research program.


1"Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look like that) I would put my finger on it and say, ‘When I grow up, I will go there.’" Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999, p. 16

2Geocaching: a treasure hunt game in which participants find hidden containers using GPS devices and share their experiences online. http://www.geocaching.com

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