Interactive Map Lets You Find Dinosaur Tracks, Extinct Volcanoes

Texas Geological Map
The Texas Geology Web Map Viewer is an interactive tool that lets people explore the geological history of the Lone Star State. (Image credit: USGS)

Want to trace the footsteps of dinosaurs or pinpoint the exact location of extinct volcanoes? A new interactive geological map of Texas lets people browse everything from where dinos once roamed to the whereabouts of oil and gas formations.

The U.S. Geological Survey map, which can be accessed for free online, offers a unique window into the history of the ground beneath the Lone Star State. The map shows Texas at a scale of 1:250,000, and allows users to zero in on geographic layers of interest, such as specific fault lines or types of rocks.

People can search places by name, or narrow down locations by latitude and longitude. The map displays information on features of interest such as their names, ages and descriptions of their geologic composition.

Timothy Bonner, a biology professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, said he and his students use the interactive map to understand how springs and rivers across the state are linked to each other.

"The ability to overlay surface geology onto road maps and terrain, along with succinct geologic descriptions, provides amazing perspectives and enables insight into our physical, chemical and biological environments," Bonner said in a statement.

The USGS Texas Water Science Center first embarked on a digital map project in 2002, working with the Texas Natural Resources Information System. The goal at that time was to transfer 38 hard-copy map sheets from the Geologic Atlas of Texas to an online site.

The initial project was finished in 2007. The first map showcased more than 145,000 geology points of interest in the state, as well as some that neighbor Texas.

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Elizabeth Howell
Live Science Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a regular contributor to Live Science and, along with several other science publications. She is one of a handful of Canadian reporters who specializes in space reporting. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Journalism, Science Concentration at Carleton University (Canada) and an M.Sc. Space Studies (distance) at the University of North Dakota. Elizabeth became a full-time freelancer after earning her M.Sc. in 2012. She reported on three space shuttle launches in person and once spent two weeks in an isolated Utah facility pretending to be a Martian.