Hiking & Backpacking Fun with Google Earth Geology Mapping Tools


Note: Most of the following links are .kmz files openable by Google Earth. You should have Google Earth already installed on your computer to view these files. If you have not already installed Google Earth, you can download the free program here. (Some browser settings might require you to confirm the download and opening of these files.)

Sierra Nevada Backpacking:

Echo Col (kmz file) - Trailless spot to cross from Inyo National Forest to Kings Canyon National Park. (Google Earth kmz file)

Gallant's Kings Canyon Ordeal (website) - A backpacking trip that went a little awry.


SF Bay Area Hiking/Backpacking:

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness (kmz file) - East Bay near San Ramon, Danville, and Castro Valley

Coe Hike of 2009 Mar 08 (kmz file) - Henry W. Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

Garin Park (kmz file) - This East Bay Regional Parks District park is located just east of Mission Blvd in Union City and south Hayward. The Google Earth file here has entrance locations and a few of the selected trails.

Sunol Regional Wilderness (kmz file) - This East Bay Regional Parks District park is located off of Calaveras Rd. a few miles south of the southmost Sunol exit of I680. The Google Earth file here has most of the trails and attractions of the park.



Tectonic Plate Names (kmz file) - Very useful for students of plate tectonics. A Google Earth (kmz) file with 52 major and minor tectonic plates à la USGS and Peter Bird (UCLA). Color coding of plate boundaries to denote continental and oceanic convergent boundaries, continental and oceanic transform faults, oceanic spreading rift boundaries, continental rift boundaries, and subduction zones.

GSSP List (kmz file) - Another Google Earth file useful for geology professionals or students. This file contains GSSP (Global Boundary Stratotype and Section Point) locations listed on the website of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (


GIS Class Projects - Just a lot of GIS stuff done with ArcGIS mostly.

GISCorps - An organization affiliated with URISA that recruits GIS professionals for volunteer opportunities. GISCorps volunteers helped with various agency and NGO mapping challenges in the wake of the Katrina disaster. GISCorps volunteers were also there lending their expertise after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

GIS Day - Falls on the Wednesday in Geography Awareness Week (usually the third week in November) celebrated in over 80 countries where educational institutions and other organizations showcase GIS advances and triumphs.



DSQHR (kml file) - Preliminary overview of DSQHR archaeological site. Site datum, northing and easting all need to be "fine tuned." (Google Earth kmz file)



GPS Time Series - Jet Propulsions Laboratory (California Institute of Technology) - This NASA administered web site has a list of worldwide installations whose velocities are being tracked by Global Positioning System workers. This site has files with coordinates and positional change (x, y and z) data for 900 or so points on the earth, plus links to other interesting international geodetic sites. The positions and velocities of these sites are computed relative to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF).



North Korean Missile Launch Site (kmz file) - This is the site of North Korea's missile launch facility in the northeastern part of the country on the Sea of Japan. Any launch of missiles from the facility violates international agreements. It would be difficult for observers to immediately ascertain if a launch were intended to put a satellite in orbit, as is claimed by the North Korean leadership, or if it were an attack on a Japanese island.


Fun with Google Earth:

Traffic - what the @$%#!? (kmz file) - In the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, the locals have ways of making their otherwise humdrum lives exciting; one of which can be seen here.

Frank Gehry buildings (kmz file) - The odd, wonderful, ugly, sublime architectural designs of Frank Gehry, American/Canadian architect, are spread out over the earth. Open this kmz file with Google Earth and explore this selection of some of his most conspicuous creations.



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