The field of geographic information systems (GIS) is a rapidly emerging field that seeks to collect, store, manipulate, analyze, and display information about spatially distributed phenomena. It combines hardware, software, data, people, procedures, and institutional arrangements, and helps institutions with inventory, decision making, and problem solving.

A closely related term—less frequently used—to GIS is geomatics, originally introduced in Canada. An important component of GIS relates to handling geospatial data. The geospatial data are collected by various means, processed, and stored, or disseminated for later use by GIS. In essence, GIS is used to manipulate, summarize, query, edit, and visualize the geospatial information. It is increasingly being used as a decision-making tool for natural resource management and several other applications.

This digital map, showing the saturated thickness ...

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