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Maps Research Guide: Topo, Geologic, and Fire Maps

A compilation of print and online resources on how to locate and use maps.

Scientific Maps in the Mansfield Library Overview

Lewis and Clark National Forest platted on a topographic map

The Mansfield Library hold a number of scientific map resources available in paper and online. Montana-specific scientific maps are available in the Archives and Special Collections Montana Room. A few examples include geologic maps, national forest and wilderness area maps, forest health protection (PEST) maps and BLM mineral management maps.

For more information about maps related to GIS data, aerial imagery, click on this link.

Mansfield Library Geologic and Hydrologic Map Resources

According to the USGS, geologic maps use a combination of lines, symbols, and colors to show the composition and structure of earth materials and their distribution across and beneath the Earth's surface. They generally show bedrock formations like granite or limestone, sediment deposited by glaciers or rivers, and structures like folds and faults. Geologic maps can be used to identify geologic hazards, locate natural resources, and facilitate land-use planning. Access this USGS publication for information on color and symbol coding.


Use the library's online catalog, OneSearch, to locate geologic and hydrologic maps, as well as the USGS paper indices. Consult the following resources to identify map call numbers:

USGS paper indices are located on Level 1 of the Mansfield Library in the Map Reference Area.

  • Publications from 1879-2000  (call # MAP REF I 19.14:)
  • Publication from 1978-2002   (call # MAP REF I 19.14/4
  • Publications from July 2003-present (USGS Publications Warehouse)
  • Guide to U.S. Government Maps : Geologic and Hydrologic Maps 1928-1979, 1986 and 1992 (call # MAP REF 557.3 X G946
  • A Cartobibliography of Separately Published U.S. Geological Survey Special Maps and River Surveys (call # MAP REF 912.73 X S795c)

You might also try the USGS Publications Warehouse. This site provides the citation information for the map you need and may include a scan of the document.

Hydrologic map showing waterway through town

Online Geologic and Hydrologic Map Resources

Wetlands with a flock of birds flying over the trees

More Online Scientific Map Resources

Land cover map of Seattle, Washington

Mansfield Library Topographic Map Resources

Topographic (topo) maps show physical features of a given area of land. Archives and Special Collections maintains both full and partial sets of various sizes of Montana topo maps. The Mansfield Library maintains partial sets of topo maps of Montana and other states. These maps can be found using the library's online catalog, OneSearch.


Archives and Special Collections retains current and older editions of Montana topos available in scales of 1:24,000 (7 1/2-minute), 1:62,500 (15-minute), 1:100,000 (30- x 60-minute), and 1:250,000. These maps are available for browsing in the Montana Room on Level 4 and cannot be checked out.

Standard topo maps (1:24,000 scale) are shelved alphabetically by quadrangle name. Topographical maps of other scales (1:62,500, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000) are filed by call number.


Topo maps of Montana and other states that can be checked out are located on Level 1. These maps are filed alphabetically by quadrangle name. An index to the quadrangles is located on top of the map cases near the topo map drawers. The library only maintains a partial set of any given year and scale.

Online Topographic Map Resources

Wildland Fire Map Resources


screenshot of DNRC Wildland Urban Interface online map