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Contour Line and Geographic Feature Extraction from USGS Color Topographical Paper Maps
January 2003 (vol. 25 no. 1)
pp. 18-31

Abstract—This paper presents a method for the extraction of contour lines and other geographic information from scanned color images of topographical maps. Although topographic maps are available from many suppliers, this work focuses on United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps. The extraction of contour lines, which are shown with brown color on USGS maps, is a difficult process due to aliasing and false colors induced by the scanning process and due to closely spaced and intersecting/overlapping features inherent to the map. These difficulties render simple approaches such as clustering ineffective. The proposed method overcomes these difficulties using a multistep process. First, a color key set, designed to comprehend color aliasing and false colors, is generated using an eigenvector line-fitting technique in RGB space. Next, area features, representing vegetation and bodies of water, are extracted using RGB color histogram analysis in order to simplify the next stage. Then, linear features corresponding to roads and rivers including contours, are extracted using a valley seeking algorithm operating on a transformed version of the original map. Finally, an A* search algorithm is used to link valleys together to form linear features and to close the gaps caused by intersecting features. The performance of the algorithm is tested on a number of USGS topographic map samples.

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Index Terms:
Color map analysis, map segmentation, topographic map contour line extraction, USGS map analysis, aliasing and false colors.
Citation:
Alireza Khotanzad, Edmund Zink, "Contour Line and Geographic Feature Extraction from USGS Color Topographical Paper Maps," IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 18-31, Jan. 2003, doi:10.1109/TPAMI.2003.1159943
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