Digital Mapping Techniques '99 -- Workshop Proceedings
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 99-386

From Functional Analysis to CD -- Digital Compilation of the Timmins Map Sheet, Abitibi Greenstone Belt, Ontario

By Brian Berdusco, N.F. Trowell, J.A. Ayer, Z. Madon, S. van Haaften, and A. Yeung

Ontario Geological Survey
B7-933 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury, Ontario P3P 1X7
Telephone: (705) 670-5725
Fax: (705) 670-5905


In 1995, the use of computer technology for making maps was increasing in the Mines and Minerals Division of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. In addition, the Ministry had, by this time, embarked on a massive data conversion project known as the Earth Resources and Land Information System (ERLIS) to make information available on a central system. Different GIS solutions were adopted and implemented throughout the Ministry resulting in a plethora of applications, each with a set of characteristics that met the needs of each section. The cartographic unit of the Publication Services Section (PSS) had migrated from the paper world to using Intergraph as its mainstay in map production. The Data Services Section (DSS) built ERLIS around Genasys Genamap GIS and Oracle DBMS. The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS), a branch of the Ministry of the Northern Development and Mines, had also implemented various software tools. The Precambrian Geoscience Section (PGS) used AutoCAD and Fieldlog as their data entry and map creation software. The Sedimentary Geoscience Section (SGS) used Microstation as their key, drafting tool. Together the PGS and SGS used IDRISI and MapInfo for GIS related work. Despite the variety of applications, the Ministry created an efficient cartographic process that generated quality, hard copy color maps in an on-demand format.

With the initiation of the Abitibi Compilation Project the OGS decided to assess the usefulness of a full-blown GIS package capable of integration, compilation, analyses and exchange. To assess the degree to which this functionality was required, the OGS embarked on a "Functional Analysis" under the guidance of the Data Services Section. Following the Functional Analysis, a formal evaluation of several GIS platforms was completed and a GIS system that best satisfied the OGS Information Technology requirements was purchased.

Using the procedures developed in the Functional Analysis, compilation of the Timmins sheet took place and both a paper colored map and digital product were published in March of 1998. This product represents sheet one of a four-sheet product with the remainder slated for release by 2000.


The Abitibi Subprovince is an 800 by 300 km Archean "granite-greenstone" domain. The value of mineral production from this area is the highest in the province, approaching 1 billion dollars (Cdn.) (Thurston 1996). It is dominated by supracrustal and granitoid rocks that range from 2.67 to 2.75 Ga (Jackson and Fyon 1991). The Timmins map sheet covers an area of approximately 9000 sq. km., centered on the Timmins mining camp. Rocks are classified on the basis of their dominant lithology using textures, structures and composition. Preliminary geological information was compiled from previous mapping. New interpretations of the extent of lithological units, specifically in the areas lacking outcrop, greatly benefitted from the use of the reprocessed geophysical data (Gupta 1995, 1996). As well, geochemical data allowed for further subdivision of the geological stratigraphy.

Within the confines of the Timmins map sheet lies the Porcupine mining camp, one of the preeminent lode gold mining districts in the world. Significant base metal production has also come from this area, mainly from the Kidd Creek deposit. Komatiite-associated nickel deposits have been mined intermittently. Non-metallic minerals such as scheelite, asbestos and talc have also been extracted.


This digital cartographic process required the development of symbol libraries. With these symbol libraries, the OGS has been able to provide clients with a common look and feel to published maps. To date, the OGS has developed a library of over 1600 bedrock mapping symbols that represent features such as sedimentary and volcanic bedding, layering, unconformities, structural features, etc. (Jackson et al, 1995; Muir 1995).

Concurrent with the Abitibi Compilation Project, the OGS continued development of digital line standards, mineral deposit symbol standards and symbol standards reflecting zones of alteration and deformation (stipple patterns). Other libraries under consideration include symbology for metallogenic classification, Quaternary geology and mineral commodity classification. The development process for each symbol library requires considerable effort. In an effort to decrease development time, the OGS has requested symbol libraries from other provincial, state and federal surveys.

To make effective use of symbol libraries in our GIS compilation, it is necessary to port existing libraries over to the GIS environment. Symbol libraries up to this point had only been developed for the CAD and cartographic environment. Off the shelf font creation software was used to create comparable symbols for the GIS environment. Symbols were converted on an "as required" basis. Eventually, symbol libraries will exist in both CAD and GIS formats. Pending the publication of standard OGS symbology for mineral deposits, the Abitibi Compilation Group adopted and modified the GSC mineral deposit symbology (Eckstrand et al, 1995). This symbology, though acceptable, does not classify based on metallogenic processes, a desired requirement of the OGS.

Digital line standards have been developed to reflect folds, faults and contacts. These standards will be incorporated into further releases and the final release of GIS products by the Abitibi Compilation Project.


The use of digital technology and geographic information systems (GIS) for geological compilation requires more than the purchase and installation of computer systems. In order to be successful, the adoption of new technology must be carried out with a new perspective of, and more importantly, a new approach to doing business. In the case of the Abitibi compilation, this implies that instead of treating the compilation as a conventional mapping exercise, we have to look at it from the perspective of spatial information management. In other words, the task must be completed using the concepts and techniques for database and information system development, rather than as a sequence of loosely connected assignments in a traditional geological compilation project.

Database development usually starts with the process of a business functional analysis. The objective of the analysis is to develop a business model of the organization (e.g. the OGS) or the specific function at hand (e.g. the Abitibi compilation). This business model depicts all the processes involved in completing the business function and is used as the basis for the following objectives:

  1. to identify the information products (maps, graphs, charts and written reports) produced in the business function;

  2. to identify the data required to produce the information products in (1);

  3. to find the sources of data identified in (2); and

  4. to develop a strategy and procedures to evaluate the suitability of the data in (3) if they are available; or

  5. to develop a strategy and procedures to collect new data to meet the requirements of the data in (3).

There are various ways by which the business processes can be identified. The most commonly used method is to adopt a top-down approach in which business processes are identified and continuously decomposed until individual processes can be completed in one single activity or step. The result of this phase of the analysis is documented in the form of a Business Functional Hierarchy. An accompanying document, called Function Definitions, is then developed. The purpose of the Function Definitions is to explain in detail each of the processes (Figure 1). These two documents are used in the next phase of analysis to identify the information products generated by the business processes, which are documented in a Function-Information Product Table (Figure 1, Table 1). In the next phase of the analysis, the sources of the data are identified and documented in an Information Product-Data Table (Table 2).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Functional Hierarchy.

Table 1. Function/Information Products Table. (Note: Table reduced in size in the interests of brevity) Table 1

Table 2. Example of Information-Product Data Table. (Note: Table reduced in size in the interests of brevity) Table 2

Figure 2

Figure 2. Joint Application Design.

In the field of database management, there are different ways by which business functional analysis can be carried out. A popular approach appears to be the Joint Application Design (JAD) methodology (Figure 2), originally developed by IBM as the corporate standard for systems development. This method is based on the core team (also known as focus group) approach. A core team is made up of a facilitator, usually a systems analyst, and a group of five to seven members who are very familiar with the operation of the business. Other members can be coopted from time to time. These include: (1) professional and technical staff who are familiar with the operation of the business but do not have the time to attend all meetings; (2) specialists in certain aspects of the business who will be invited to give expert opinion in certain meetings; (3) managers and supervisory staff who need to keep themselves informed of the progress of the project; and (4) people outside the organization who have an interest, e.g. clients and partners.

The core team meets regularly. In the meetings, the team analyzes and discusses the characteristics of business processes; documents and edits records of discussion (i.e. the Business Functional Hierarchy and the Function Definitions); as well as identifies information products and data sources (which results in the documentation of the Function-Information Product Table and the Information Product-Data Table). At certain milestones, documents resulting from the core team meetings were sent out to other interested parties for comment. The core team is responsible for the review and consolidation of these comments and suggestions into the original JAD documentation.

The JAD methodology is a very effective way of performing business functional analysis. Since it is based on face-to-face and group meetings, it provides a working environment for open communication. It also provides a structure for consensus building by focusing on issues and resolving them. Participation in the meetings is a very useful educational experience for existing and potential users of the data to be delivered. Finally, as the deliverables of the core team are well documented, it provides a solid foundation for data modeling in database design. An example of the Abitibi Functional Analysis is provided in Appendix 1.


In response to the Ministry's information technology (IT) initiatives and the need for improved capture, analysis and dissemination of geological data, the OGS evaluated three GIS software packages. Under the supervision of senior management, OGS GIS Geoscientists developed evaluation criteria and bench marked the software. The GIS Geoscientists were mandated to propose a GIS solution for the OGS within the IT framework of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines as well as the broader public sector.


In consultation with the Ministry's Data Services Section, four key objectives were defined and are listed below:

The following approach was developed to ensure that the GIS system meets these objectives:

  1. Organize the evaluation criteria by the major functions and the critical success factors the system must support. The following high level functions were defined:

    The following "soft" evaluation criteria were also considered:

  2. Pre-define the specific sub-processes or data formats that must be supported for each function above. Then define the things you want to measure subjectively and give them priority weighting. For example, under output data, "it must output a format usable by Publication Services Section" and "it should be easy to import into Intergraph" (with a weight of 8 out of 10).

  3. Establish a test and score the applications' ability to address each of these items listed. The degree of rigor of the test normally depends on how important each item is and how much time is available. Existing systems could be measured against these same criteria to determine whether they could/should be replaced by this new system.

    An example of the Evaluation Form is provided in Figure 3. Those interested in a complete copy may contact the authors for the form in a Microsoft Excel format. For each function there is a minimum required score. Raster capabilities were considered less important for our applications than vector, and consequently they contribute less to the overall score.

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Example of Evaluation Form

  4. In addition to doing an evaluation of how well each product meets known needs, it was also agreed that ample time would be allowed to investigate features that the tool provides beyond the immediate known needs. For example, one vendor demonstrated use of the Internet in providing GIS services, a useful capability which we did not have on our list of known needs. Most of the selection criteria came from the GIS Geoscientists' experience in mapping, but the following references: Bonham-Carter (1994), Eastman (1995), and Yeung (1995) quite strongly influenced GIS concepts and their application in geology. Martin (1990) also discusses critical success factor analysis, which was also used in the decision making.

Performing the Evaluations

Representatives of three GIS vendors visited our site in the fall of 1996 and winter of 1997 to help us evaluate their products. Two days were allotted for each evaluation. All vendors received our evaluation procedure, and for those who wanted it, our test data ahead of time. The first morning of each evaluation, the vendors did a promotional demonstration of their products' capabilities. A typical demonstration was attended by ten or twelve geologists, as well as by the GIS Geoscientists. Over the next day and a half, each vendor team performed the operations on our data as requested in the evaluation procedure.

There was a period of follow-up for several weeks after each evaluation. For example, vendors sent us plot files and export files, which they did not have the time to create at our site. They also provided the necessary information to complete our "soft" evaluation criteria (e.g. support, training, and a list of organizations that use the specific software).

The products showed strengths and weaknesses in different areas of our evaluation, but tabulating the scoring of the functional evaluation criteria indicated which products would best suit us.

We also considered the previously discussed "soft" factors. We wanted to be compatible with as many of our geological colleagues as possible and therefore considered the software being used by the Geological Survey of Canada as well as neighboring provincial and state geological surveys. Finally, we considered Ontario government software standards and the software used by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, our source for digital topographic data as well as the Ontario government's lead ministry in GIS Information Technology.


As a result of the evaluations we selected ESRI Arc/Info and ArcView products as the workstation and desktop GIS staples for the Ontario Geological Survey. This combination of products offers the best solution to our current needs as well as our requirements in the near future. This solution offers a minimum impact on our current cartographic processes thus allowing us the ability to continue to generate hardcopy cartographic products utilizing a methodology that we have developed with time, while allowing us the ability to migrate to a new delivery system in a functional fashion.



The process of compilation that was used came directly from the Functional Analysis (Appendix 1). The Data Screening Checklist (Table 3), also a product of the functional analysis, clearly lays out the data sets we had to work with and what features were pertinent to the compilation process. For our purposes, we subdivided the data into two sets - Map Data and Tabular Data.

Table 3. Example of a Data Screening Checklist. (Note: Table reduced in size in the interests of brevity)

Table 3

Map Data include both vector and raster data sets including the following themes:

Tabular data consisted of the following databases:


Implementing the use of the new GIS software solution was not immediate. The OGS continued to use their existing software applications such as MapInfo, AutoCAD and Microstation while the skills for Arc/Info and Arcview were developed. By the time the second of four sheets had begun, these skills were sufficient that a considerable amount of the work was done solely in Arc/Info and Arcview. This has facilitated the release of the GIS product yet has had minimum impact on the established cartographic process, a process that continues to produce full coloured hard copy maps for which no GIS product is required. Eventually, with experience gained from our newly implemented tools, all hard copy maps will have a corresponding digital GIS product.


The outcome of this project is a scientific document; i.e. a geological map. The procedures we followed however, in going from an analogue world of paper maps at the beginning to a digital, attributed map at the end really involved a major paradigm shift in the way "business" or map production at the Ontario Geological Survey occurs. This paper was written to capture the process by which this change occurred. It is neither meant to be a template for describing how such changes should take place nor is it held up to be necessarily the correct way to effect such changes.


We would like to acknowledge our managers A. Fyon, Senior Manager and P. Thurston , Supervising Geologist of the Precambrian Geoscience Section and C. Baker, Senior Manager, Sedimentary Geoscience Section for their support and for allowing us to spend a significant amount of time, first in doing the Functional Analysis and second in writing this paper. Thanks are extended to F. Merlino, Senior Manager , Data Services Section for championing the Functional Analysis procedure and providing staff time and input.

NOTE: As stated throughout, numerous tables and figures have been reduced in size and breadth in the interests of brevity. Should you require comprehensive documentation, tables will be provided in MS-Excel and MS-Word by simply contacting one of the authors.


Bonham-Carter, G.F.,1994, Geographic Information systems for geoscientist: modeling with GIS: Pergamon publications, Elsevier Science Limited, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, 0X5 1GB, United Kingdom.

Brodaric, B., 1997, Field data capture and manipulation using GSC Fieldlog v3.0, in D.R. Soller, editor, Digital Mapping Techniques '97, Proceedings of a Workshop on Digital Mapping Techniques: Methods for Geologic Map Data Capture, Management and Publication: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 97-269, p. 77-81,

Eastman, J.R., 1995, Idrisi for Windows User's Guide Version 1.0: Clark Labs for Technology and Geographic Analysis, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01610-1477, United States.

Eckstrand, O.R., Sinclair, W.D. and Thorpe, R.I., 1995, Geology of Canadian Mineral Deposit Types: Geological Survey of Canada, Geology of Canada, no. 8.

Gupta, V.K., 1996, Ontario airborne magnetic and electromagnetic surveys: Archean and Proterozoic "Greenstone" belts; in Summary of Field Work and Other Activities 1996: Ontario Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Paper 166, p. 168-176.

Gupta, V.K., 1995, Processing of airborne magnetic and electromagnetic surveys-progress report; in Summary of Field Work and Other Activities 1995: Ontario Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Paper 164, p. 299-300.

Jackson, S.L., and Fyon, J.A., 1991,The western Abitibi Subprovince in Ontario; in Geology of Ontario: Ontario Geological Survey, Special Volume 4, Part 1, p. 404-482.

Jackson, S.L., Muir, T.L. and Romkey, S.W., 1995, A library of digital mapping symbols. Part I: digital files, figures and descriptions: Ontario Geological Survey, Open File Report 5909, 56 p.

Madon, Z., Trowell, N.F. and Ayer, J.A., 1997, Using Radarsat data for geoscientific applications, Abitibi greenstone belt, Ontario; p. 10 13 in Summary of Field Work and Other Activities: Ontario Geological Survey, Miscellaneous paper 168, 149 p.

Martin, J, 1990, Information Engineering, Book II: Planning and Analysis: Prentice-Hall, Incorporated, College and Technical Reference Division, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632, United States.

Muir, T.L., 1995, A library of digital mapping symbols. Part 2: Appendix B (listing and explanation of symbol acronyms): Ontario Geological Survey, Open File Report 5910, 116 p.

Rogers, M.C., Thurston, P.C., Fyon, J.A., Kelly, R.I. and Breaks, F.W., 1996, Mineral deposit models of metallic and industrial deposit types and related mineral potential assessment criteria: Ontario Geological Survey Open File Report 5916.

Thurston, P.C., 1996, The Abitibi Field Investigations: a Rationale; in Summary of Field Work and Other Activities: Ontario Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Paper 166, p. 3-4.

Yeung, A., 1995, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Instructional Materials and Course Notes for fourth-year Geography course: Department of Geography, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario.


Abitibi Compilation - Project Documentation (Note: the content of the following has been greatly reduced in the interests of brevity. Should you require additional detail, please contact one of the authors at the Ontario Geological Survey)


1. Business Activities

2. Goals

3. Objectives and Scope

4. Usefulness

5. Clients

6. Custodians

7. Sponsor



8.1 Identify sources of data

8.2 Acquire data

8.3 Screen data

8.4 Prepare data

8.5 Compose final digital compilation maps


9.1 Identify new business needs

9.2 Modify project objectives/specifications as needed

9.3 Identify stratigraphies and tectonic environments in existing interpretations

9.4 Create working lithostratigraphic interpretation from geological compilation

9.5 Produce digital information products

9.6 Refine contents of working lithostratigraphic interpretation

(The analysis of this function is in progress. Function definitions and tables to be completed)

10.1 Identify new business needs

10.2 Modify project objectives/specifications as needed

10.3 Use computer-assisted technologies

10.4 Produce information products

Return to Table of Contents

This site is
Maintained by the Eastern Publications Group Web Team
Last revised 11-2-99