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High-Tech USGS Maps Being Used to Solve Xiana Mystery
Released: 2/5/2001

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Pat Jorgenson 1-click interview
Phone: 650-329-4011



Aerial photographs supplied to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, by the U.S. Geological Survey, are being used to search for the remains of Xiana Fairchild. A child’s skull, which was found near Lexington Reservoir on January 19, has been identified through dental records and DNA tests, as that of the missing 7-year-old Vallejo girl who disappeared in December 1999.

On January 26, an official with the Western Disaster Center at Moffett Field contacted the USGS in Menlo Park to request current, detailed geographic data that could be used to assist in the search for the girl’s body. The Menlo Park cartographers immediately contacted their colleagues at the Earth Resource Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Within hours technicians there e-mailed updated, state-of-the-art, digital photo maps of the search area directly to a Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst, working with the sheriff’s department.

The familiar USGS topographic maps are routinely used in search and rescue missions all over the nation. In addition, searchers are now using electronic map programs that use USGS digital orthophotoquads (DOQs). DOQs are digitized recent aerial photographs that cover one-fourth of a topo map, and they can be sent electronically to searchers who can download them on site, with battery-powered laptop computers. These and other USGS map products are available online at http://www.usgs.gov or over the counter at the Menlo Park office of the USGS.


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