Overlay operation is a critical and powerful tool in GIS that superimposes spatial and attribute information from various thematic map layers to produce new information. Overlay operations facilitate spatial analysis and modeling processes when being used with other spatial operations (e.g. buffer, dissolve, merge) to solve real-world problems. For both vector and raster data models, the input layers need to be spatially aligned precisely with each other to ensure a correct overlay operation. In general, vector overlay is geometrically and computationally complex. Some most used vector overlay operations include intersection, union, erase, and clip. Raster overlay combines multiple raster layers cell by cell through Boolean, arithmetic, or comparison operators. This article provides an overview of the fundamentals of overlay operations, how they are implemented in vector and raster data, and how suitability analysis is conducted.
This knowledge area embodies a variety of data driven analytics, geocomputational methods, simulation and model driven approaches designed to study complex spatial-temporal problems, develop insights into characteristics of geospatial data sets, create and test geospatial process models, and construct knowledge of the behavior of geographically-explicit and dynamic processes and their patterns.
Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are in regular font and linked directly to their original entries (published in 2006; these contain only Learning Objectives). Entries that have been updated and expanded are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized.