NOS80K: National Ocean Service Coastline of the Northeastern United States

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Frequently-anticipated questions:

What does this data set describe?

NOS80K: National Ocean Service Coastline of the Northeastern United States
NOAA's Medium Resolution Digital Vector Shoreline is a high-quality, Geographic Information System-ready, general-use digital vector data set containing the coastline of the contiguous United States of America.

The shoreline was created from data captured (digitized from scanned images of the master separates of the NOS Charts) from over 270 National Ocean Service Navigation Charts and spans some 80,000 nautical miles at an average map scale of 1:70,000.

This product, created by the Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) Division of NOAA's Office of Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment, comprises over 75,000 nautical miles of coastline (nearly 2.5 million vertices), representing the entire conterminous United States of America. Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, and all other interests and territories of the United States are not included in the collection.

The data set is designed for a broad target audience ranging from governmental agencies, universities and other research institutions, to the private sector, and students, as well as any other concern requiring a general purpose digital shoreline layer for GIS and cartographic projects.

Generally, 1:80,000 NOAA coast charts took precedence and were used when available. For areas where 1:80,000 charts were not readily available, charts with the next closest higher scale (e.g., 1:60,0000) were used down to the highest scale available. Alternately, if higher scale charts were not available, charts of the closest lower scale (e.g., 1:100,000) were used down to the lowest scale. The digital shoreline for Florida was obtained from the state. This digital file was originally created from NOAA nautical charts and was not recreated by SEA. Generally, for these shoreline sections (EC80_06, GC80_05, and GC80_06), the highest scale charts available were used to digitize the shoreline. The resultant average mapping scale for the entire Medium Resolution Digital Vector Shoreline is approximately 1:70,000. See NOAA's Medium Resolution Digital Vector Shoreline website for more details on this product: <>
  1. How should this data set be cited?

    National Oceanic and Atmospheri, National Ocean Service (NOS), Office of , 1994, NOS80K: National Ocean Service Coastline of the Northeastern United States: NOAA/NOS/ORCA/SEA, Silver Spring, MD.

    Online Links:

    This is part of the following larger work.

    Poppe, L.J., McMullen, K.Y., Foster, D.S., Blackwood, D.S., Williams, S.J., Ackerman, S.D., Moser, M.S., and Glomb, K.A., 2010, Geological Interpretation of the Sea Floor Offshore of Edgartown, Massachusetts: Open-File Report 2009-1001, U.S. Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program, USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole, MA.

    Online Links:

    Other_Citation_Details: 1 DVD-ROM

  2. What geographic area does the data set cover?

    West_Bounding_Coordinate: -77.877236
    East_Bounding_Coordinate: -66.791978
    North_Bounding_Coordinate: 47.459808
    South_Bounding_Coordinate: 34.069236

  3. What does it look like?

    <> (GIF)
    Overview showing the extent of the clipped ALLUS80K shapefile (NOS80k) for the GIS project area.

  4. Does the data set describe conditions during a particular time period?

    Calendar_Date: 1994
    Currentness_Reference: publication date

  5. What is the general form of this data set?

    Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: vector digital data

  6. How does the data set represent geographic features?

    1. How are geographic features stored in the data set?

      This is a Vector data set. It contains the following vector data types (SDTS terminology):

      • G-polygon (8543)

    2. What coordinate system is used to represent geographic features?

      Horizontal positions are specified in geographic coordinates, that is, latitude and longitude. Latitudes are given to the nearest 0.000001. Longitudes are given to the nearest 0.000001. Latitude and longitude values are specified in Decimal degrees.

      The horizontal datum used is North American Datum of 1983.
      The ellipsoid used is Geodetic Reference System 80.
      The semi-major axis of the ellipsoid used is 6378137.000000.
      The flattening of the ellipsoid used is 1/298.257222.

      Altitude_Datum_Name: National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929
      Horizonal positions of the shoreline are based on a vertical tidal datum. This is typically Mean Lower Low Water but can vary. Consult the appropriate charts for additional information.

  7. How does the data set describe geographic features?

    Shapefile Attribute Table (Source: None)

    Internal feature number. (Source: ESRI)

    Sequential unique whole numbers that are automatically generated.

    Feature geometry. (Source: ESRI)

    Coordinates defining the features.


Who produced the data set?

  1. Who are the originators of the data set? (may include formal authors, digital compilers, and editors)

  2. Who also contributed to the data set?

    Please credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service (NOS), Office of Coast Survey, and the Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) Division of the Office of Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment (ORCA) as the originator of the dataset.

  3. To whom should users address questions about the data?

    Steve Rohmann
    Silver Spring, MD 20910

    (301) 713-3000 x137 (voice)
    (301) 713-4384 (FAX)

Why was the data set created?

Because the ALLUS80K provides a higher detail of coastal inlets and waterways, this data layer was added to the GIS as a basemap for overlaying the surficial sediment data archived in this report. This data layer is a subset of the complete ALLUS80k coastline and shapefile and has been clipped to a portion of the east coast.

How was the data set created?

  1. From what previous works were the data drawn?

    (source 1 of 1)
    Type_of_Source_Media: paper
    Source_Scale_Denominator: 80000

  2. How were the data generated, processed, and modified?

    Date: 06-Nov-2002 (process 1 of 1)
    The complete ALLUS80K shapefile was clipped to the GIS project extent.

    Person who carried out this activity:

    Valerie Paskevich
    U.S. Geological Survey
    Information Specialist
    384 Woods Hole Road
    Woods Hole, MA 02543-1598

    (508) 548-8700 x2281 (voice)
    (508) 457-2310 (FAX)

    Data sources used in this process:
    • allus80k.dbf
    • allus80k.shp
    • allus80k.shx

    Data sources produced in this process:

    • nos80k.dbf
    • nos80k.shp
    • nos80k.shx

  3. What similar or related data should the user be aware of?

    Poppe, L.J., Paskevich, V.F., Williams, S.J., Hastings, M.E., Kelley, J.T., Belknap, D.F., Ward, L.G., FitzGerald, D.M., and Larsen, P.F., 2003, Surficial Sediment Data from the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and Vicinity: a GIS Compilation: Open-File Report 03-001, U.S. Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program, USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole, MA.

    Online Links:

    Other_Citation_Details: 1 CD-ROM

How reliable are the data; what problems remain in the data set?

  1. How well have the observations been checked?

  2. How accurate are the geographic locations?

    According to NOAA, the data supplied here are a compilation of information collected from some 270+ current or pre-release National Ocean Service Navigation Charts. In compiling this product we made no attempt to ascertain the congruency between the charted data, and the real world. Our objective was to simply capture the representative coastline as provided to us via the NOS Chart. Every effort was made to capture the shoreline on these charts as faithfully as our skills and technology allowed, and there is every indication that we were successful to this end. However, in doing so, we automatically conveyed the character (all aspects, both good and bad) of those data to our digital product. A character which may or may not be in agreement with the real world. Because of this, the user is advised to exercise caution in making any assumptions about the fallibility, or infallibility, of the spatial information supplied here; especially when circumstances warrant a high degree of absolute positional accuracy.

    Spatial data were derived directly from National Ocean Service Navigation Charts. The NOS Chart Products meet or exceed National Map Accuracy standards (hard copy); the digital data supplied in this compilation should, when plotted at scale, meet or exceed these same cartographic standards.

  3. How accurate are the heights or depths?

  4. Where are the gaps in the data? What is missing?

  5. How consistent are the relationships among the observations, including topology?

How can someone get a copy of the data set?

Are there legal restrictions on access or use of the data?

Access_Constraints: None
These data are not to be used for navigation purposes. Mariners should refer to the appropriate nautical chart.

Public domain data from the U.S. Government are freely redistributable with proper metadata and source attribution.

  1. Who distributes the data set? (Distributor 1 of 1)

    Steve Rohmann
    Silver Spring, MD 20910

    (301) 713-3000 x137 (voice)
    (301) 713-4384 (FAX)

  2. What's the catalog number I need to order this data set?

    Downloadable Data: Medium Resolution Digital Vector U.S. Shoreline [OL 72 18.7 -66.5 -168]

  3. What legal disclaimers am I supposed to read?

    Although this data has been processed successfully on a computer system at NOAA, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made by NOAA regarding the utility of the data on any other system, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. NOAA warrants the delivery of this product in computer-readable format, and will offer a replacement copy of the product when the product is determined unreadable by computer input peripherals, or when the physical medium is delivered in damaged condition.

  4. How can I download or order the data?

  5. What hardware or software do I need in order to use the data set?

    The data is available in ArcView shapefile format. The user must have ArcView 3.0 or greater software to read and process the data file. In lieu of ArcView, the user may utilize another GIS application package capable of importing data. The user must have software capable of uncompressing archived zip files, such as Winzip or Pkware.

Who wrote the metadata?

Last modified: 16-Jun-2009
Metadata author:
U.S. Geological Survey
c/o Larry Poppe
384 Woods Hole Road
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1598

(508) 548-8700 x2314 (voice)
(508) 457-2310 (FAX)

Metadata standard:
FGDC Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC-STD-001-1998)
Metadata extensions used:

Generated by mp version 2.8.25 on Tue Jun 16 08:11:31 2009