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SCAR GSSG - Guidelines for Edition 2 of the CGA

Updated: Wed 02 Jul 2003


Most of the Guidelines result from a Workshop on the CGA held in Roma from 15 to 17 March 1999.

An example extract of Volume 2 is available in Adobe PDF format by clicking here [approx. 37Kb]



The draft of the new CGA should be ready for a discussion the WG-GGI will have at the meeting to be held in Tokyo (2000). The draft will contain all data received before a given deadline (see below) and will be an indication of the final output for Edition 2 of the CGA.

The present guidelines apply to both names which are already in the national gazetteers and names which are to be approved in the future.


The annex 1 provides an example of the proposed format for Volume 2.
Volume 1 would follow the same format as Edition 1.

Data entries

1. Official date of approval of name (day/month/year) - mandatory

2. Description to include:

Type of feature (the class) - mandatory
Location of the feature with respect to other features and its height - optional
History of observation/survey - mandatory
Reason for the specific part of the name - mandatory

3. Units to be metric, with height in metres, distances in kilometres and areas in square kilometres. Where miles have been used in the original description, these should be converted to km by the supplier of the description, with the distance in miles (mi) being supplied in parentheses. The Preface of Volume 2 will note whether nautical miles (nm) had been used in some of the original descriptions, and that (mi) indicated that the original definition of the name had used statute miles.

4. Co-ordinate accuracy should be appropriate to the size of the feature and the quality of the maps used to define the name. Large features such as mountain ranges and glaciers should have co-ordinates in degrees and minutes, whereas smaller features identified on large-scale maps could have co-ordinates in degrees, minutes and seconds (seconds to an accuracy of one decimal point if required). It should not be forgotten, in any case, that co-ordinates are provided for searching purposes only. The CGA will maintain the relative accuracy submitted by the approving agency rather than imposing an arbitrary 00 seconds on all features.

5. Length of description: Average of 300 characters, maximum length 400 characters.

6. Order of text: The descriptive information should be provided in the order given in (2), in English. The order is a little different from the advice given in Annex I (Form for future additions/amendments to the CGA) of the CGA, March 1998. However, that had been designed for a different purpose and will not be changed.

7. Field separation. All new data have to be put into to a database. In order to ease the task of the database operator it is recommended that each field be separated from the others by a diacritical mark (it is supposed that the original document will be sent as a Word document or similar). It is important that the diacritical mark (for example "#" or "@" or ":", etc.) is never included in any of the fields.

Length of the description

Accepting descriptions in their current form from the different nations would have serious implications for the final size of the CGA database and the hard copy publication that is being considered. Such implications make it necessary that all nations accept responsibility for reducing the descriptions of their approved names to 300 characters (400 maximum, for features needing particular characteristics). Actually many of the existing descriptions in national gazetteers are well over the character limit set above and their inclusion would add many pages to a volume that is already likely to be about 1600 pages in total. A statistical analysis of descriptions received to date from Bulgaria, Italy, Poland and USA indicates that if an average of 300 characters (maximum of 400) were used per description, the page length of Volume 2 would be about 1500; introductory pages and abbreviations used in the descriptions would add a further 30 pages. These calculations are based on 11 descriptions per column, 22 per page and thus 44 per sheet. The present situation is that in the CGA dataset there are 2000 descriptions that have more than 400 characters total.

We have to limit the size of the next, and possibly future, editions of the CGA to a reasonable size. The hard copy would become unmanageable if it is too large; reading long entries on screen is also less user-friendly than accessing concise descriptions. To accomplish that, all those descriptions longer than the character length stated above will be excluded, until the entries have been reduced by the country that had submitted the description.

To have comparatively short descriptions in the GCA does not mean that the more exhaustive description will be lost. It will always be available in the national gazetteer.

To put it in different terms, it should be pointed out that Edition 2 of the CGA should not duplicate the material that is already published in national Antarctic gazetteers but that it should allow a summary of all descriptions of a given feature to be seen side by side on an equal basis.

Date of approval.

The attribution of a name to a geographic feature is usually a long process and may take several decades in some cases. Some or all of the following steps can describe the history of naming a feature:

1. Date of first observation/discovery of feature to be named

2. Date of survey/exploration of area

3. Date name was first applied/assigned to the feature

4. Date when name was first published in a scientific text/on a figure in a scientific paper/mentioned in an expedition report/shown on an expedition map or chart

5. Date when name was submitted to national names board

6. Date of approval by names board (the date of the meeting when the decision to approve a name was made)

7. Date name was officially gazetted/published on an official map or chart

- Step 6 is the date that should be included at the head of the description in the CGA. The other options can be included in the descriptive material for a feature, if space allows.

- If the date of approval is not known, the date of submission to the CGA will be entered instead, in parentheses.

- The format for date of approval will be: day/month/year, e.g. 16/03/1999.

Time schedule

The deadline for Italy to receive the additional information is 31 January 2000. That will allow time to assemble the material for presentation at Tokyo 2000.

In view of the anticipated effort for everyone involved, it is requested that the descriptions in the approved format, at least for names beginning with letters A to F, should be received by 31 January 2000. Nevertheless, all countries are invited to supply descriptive material for all their names by that date, if possible.