GIS Resources

Once you’ve used the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) Map or Data to locate the data records you are looking for, you can use the resources, models, and tools described here to interact with the data.

Interoperable data available through the NGDS can be accessed using a Web Map Service or Web Feature Service.  These web services display spatially referenced data dynamically as a map. NGDS has created a series of tutorial videos that provide how-to guides for common access scenarios using a variety of database, WMS, or WFS software; please visit our Youtube channel to view.

Web Map Services and Web Feature Services

Web Map Services are visualization tools that allow you to display map  images on your computer without having to download or store all the data. A map is not the data itself, but a rendering of it. WMS-produced maps are generally rendered in a pictorial format such as PNG, GIF or JPEG. Two or more maps produced in a WMS with the same paramaters and output size can be overlaid to produce a composite map.  This contrasts to a Web Feature Service (WFS), which returns the actual data. 

Web Feature Services are interfaces that use a shapefile of geographically-specific data to portray geographical features overlaid on a basemap. Where a WMS displays a static image, data displayed through a WFS is dynamic and can be manipulated for spatial analysis. One excellent application to view and acquire WFS data is the Data Explorer, where the WFS URL from any NGDS GIS resource provides data mash-ups and downloads.

How to Use Web Services

Almost any GIS software, proprietary (e.g. ArcGIS Explorer, Google Earth) or free and open source (e.g. UDig, QGIS) can be used to view NGDS GIS data. After going to the given site or downloading and installing the GIS software, simply copy the WMS and/or WFS URLs from a Data Details page of any NGDS data resource and follow the instructions as in the application’s documentation. For examples of scenarios in which one might acquire, analyze, and manipulate NGDS GIS data, please see some step-by-step instructions based on a few likely user scenarios located at the NGDS GitHub or refer to the NGDS Tutorial videos on Youtube.

GIS Software

A number of geographic information systems software packages can connect directly with the service. Once connected, you can view and use the images just as you would if they were on your computer. Check your software manual or help files for specific instructions on how to add a mapping service, or check out the Data Use Scenarios document at NGDS GitHub. Here are a few of the software clients known to be able to connect with WMS (and some with WFS):

AccuGlobe Desktop 2007

ArcGIS 9.1 and above. See the Data Use Scenarios for more information on how to add and use WFS and WMS to ArcMap; Step-by-step instructions for MN-specific services are provided at their site.

AutoCAD Civil 3D or AutoCAD Map 3D 2009 and above. Step-by-step instructions for MN-specific services, provided at their site (4 p., 2 MB, PDF)

Bentley Microstation V8i. Step-by-step instructions for MN-specific services, provided at their site (10 p., 1.2 MB, PDF), courtesy of Alliant Engineering, Inc.



Global Mapper v. 9.0


MapInfo 8.5

MaPublisher for Adobe Illustrator, 8.4 and above

Free and Open-Source GIS Software to view NGDS data

gvSIG: Desktop GIS application designed for storing and analyzing data in compliance with Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards.

GrassGIS: Desktop GIS software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GrassGIS runs on Mac OSX, Linux, and Windows.

QGIS: Quantum GIS is desktop GIS software available under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). QGIS runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows, and Android, and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.

uDig: Desktop GIS software available under the Eclipse Public License 1.0 (EPL-1.0) and BSD 3-Clause License. uDIG is a standalone application that provides a Java solution for desktop GIS data access, editing, and viewing. uDIG runs on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. See the Data Use Scenarios document at NGDS GitHub for more information on how to add and use WFS and WMS to uDig.

Geozilla: A free application that provides 3D terrain views with Web map service overlays.


Proprietary GIS Software and other applications to view NGDS data

ArcGIS: Desktop GIS software designed to facilitate geoprocessing, geospatial data editing, and cartographic production.

ArcGIS Explorer: ArcGIS Explorer Desktop is a free GIS viewer that gives you an easy way to explore, visualize, and share GIS information. This free software supports adding layers from ESRI's ArcGIS online catalog, KML files, and GIS Services.

ArcGIS Online: ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based, collaborative content management system for maps, applications, data, and other geographic information. ArcGIS Online supports ArcGIS Server Web Services, OGC WMS, KML and CSV.

GeoScene 3D: GeoScene3D is an application for 2D and 3D visualizing, interpreting, editing and publishing geological data, including drill or bore holes, terrain, and geologic units. This application is intended for 3D viewing, so there is not an extensive base map selection. Although additional steps are required to view Web map services in this application, it is WMS-aware.

Google Earth: A free application that provides 3D terrain views with Web map service overlays.

Worldwide Telescope: A free application that provides 3D terrain views. This application does not yet support WMS, but it can consume .CSV files to provide visualizations events as data points over time. These data points can be assigned different colors and sizes for further visualization of data, though doing so can require extensive preparation. See more information on importing data.

State Geological Survey Web Map Applications

There are also many independent web applications and tools which can use NGDS GIS data, due to its interoperability standard. A number of state surveys are supporting NGDS GIS data at with their own online tools: