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GeoRef: Searchable Fields

The GeoRef database, established by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) in 1966, provides access to the geoscience literature of the world.


GeoRef boasts it's own thesaurus, now on it's 11th edition. It contains more than 30,800 controlled vocabulary terms. The Thesaurus is an indispensable tool for efficient searching of the GeoRef database. It allows you to view any broader, narrower or related term or terms to facilitate retrieval of a more relevant set of results.

As well as the aforementioned hierarchical relationships, the thesaurus also includes as appropriate, usage notes, dates of addition, indexing rules, geographic coordinates and guidelines for searching.  Cross-references from invalid to valid terms are also included.

The Indexing terms and text in this thesaurus are expressed in American English with limited entry points for variant spellings. However it maybe worth noting the ProQuest platform operates lemmatisation for English and American varient spellings available when conducting a keyword search (as opposed to a thesaurus or subject look-up search).

GeoRef thesaurus terms are included in the subject terms however the GeoRef thesaurus holds exclusively GeoRef thesaurus vocabulary. See the Look-ups and Browseable indexes section below for more information on using the subject index.

 Below are explanations of the relationships that may occur for any given term: 

 Geographic Coordinates (CO)

For a geographicTerm, the rectangular area covered by the term, expressed in latitudes and longitudes; degrees, minutes, and seconds. For example, for Brazos County Texas, N lat. 30°20’-30°58’ and W long. 96°5’-96°40’, the coordinates are:

CO N302000 N305800

W0960500 W0964000

And can be searched using the LL (latitude and longitude field) as in this example:

LL(n302000 and n305800) and LL(w0960500 and w0964000)

Used for (UF)

A synonym or alternative form of the term which may have been used prior to the time the term was adopted. Many of these have now been converted to the current term

Broader Term (BT)

A Broader Term refers to a group of which the term is a member or an area or age of which the term represents a part. See example above

Narrower Term (NT)

A Narrower Term refers to specific member of a group which is represented by the term or an area or age which is part of a larger area or age represented by the term. Note that the Narrower Terms shown under a term in a Thesaurus entry are only the terms narrower by one hierarchical level, not all the Narrower Terms

See Also (SA)

A valid term which is related to the term in some way other than the above relationships. This is displayed in the notes field as per the example below.

Subject Categories

One or more of 30 Subject Categories (also called broad disciplines or subject headings) are assigned to each reference for example Geochronology,  Consult the Classification Field to search by category. For Example: Stratigraphy, Geochronology, Igneous and metamorphic petrology.

Look Ups and Browsable Indexes

GeoRef offers four Look ups or browsable indexes, so you can easily find spelling or format variations of, for example, an author's name or a journal title. You can find the Look up links in the advanced search page and they are available for the following searchable fields: author, publication, classification and Subject.  For a description of these fields, please see the searchable fields table to the right. 

Note: Look ups are also available from the Command Line search (through the Look up terms link).

To use and locate a Look up or browsable index, select the field from the advanced search pull-down menu. If a Look up is available, under the search row you will see a link to the Look up. Other Look ups and browsable indexes will be listed in the Limit To section of the advanced search page.

Select the Look up link and then you will see a browsable and alphabetical index for that field. There are some indexes that will not display an alphabetical list before searching for the term, rather you will have to enter a term first, and then the alphabetical list of matches will display.

Once you locate the index term that you would like to add to your search, mark the item, and then click the Add to search button. The index term will now appear in the advanced search form along with the appropriate pull-down menu selection.

Searchable Fields


Field Name


Search Examples & Explanation




Use this field to search a brief summary of the document. Not all GeoRef records will contain a summary

Where there is an abstract this will have been written in English by GeoRef editorial. The Abstract is included in a basic and advanced search and can also be searched separately using the field drop-down lists as mentioned in the Advanced Search section of the Search Tips tab (item number 1).


Accession Number



Search the unique number for articles and documents

Author Affiliation



Search by Affiliation

All Fields



Search in all fields in the citation and abstract



AU(Fivelstad, Sveinung)

Use to find documents written by a particular author



AV(geological survey western Australia)

This field contains the name and location of the organization from which the document is available.



CC(D 04030: Models, Methods, Remote Sensing)

The classification codes and descriptions are broad subject headings that are specific to various databases. Classification Codes are a fast way to precisely target a search by topic, geographical area, or article type




Is a six character, alphanumeric bibliographic code, that provides concise, unique and unambiguous identification of the titles of serials and non-serial publications from all subject areas.

Collection Title


CE=Rock-forming minerals
This field contains the title of the collection, and can also include the full title and subtitle of the collection, a translation or transliteration of the title, or some other title modification.



CF(chlorinated dioxins and japan)

This field provides the name of the conference and where and when it occurred

Corporate Author


CA(université Bretagne occidentale)

Used to search the Corporate/Institutional author

Country of Publication



Used to search the Country of Publication

Document Feature


Use to find records containing illustrations, tables, maps. These features may or may not be displayed in the record. Use resolver linking to locate full text and the described feature.



ED(Brian, J)
Used to search Scientific coordinator

Format Covered



This field indicates the medium of the source document when it is not paper, like compact disc, diskette, DVD, microfiche, etc.

Holding Library


HL(geological survey)

This is the location of the document within the Holding Library



This search field looks for the 12 and 13 digit International Standard Book Number (ISBN), where available. Hyphens are optional.



This search field looks for the eight digit International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), where available. Hyphens are optional

Latitude & Longitude


LL=(n382* or LL=n383*) and LL=(w1113* or w1114*)
Where N stand for North, S for South, E for East and W for West and the star truncation will retrieve minutes from 30 -39 for 38 degrees North and minutes 40-49 for 111 degrees West.

To retrieve records for a region surrounding the following coordinates: Latitude 38 degrees 30 minutes N and Longitude 111 degrees 40 minutes W. within approximately 10 minutes of that coordinate point enter:

This will retrieve records discussing the coordinates from N3820-N3839 and W11131- W11149, ie: 38 degrees 20-39 minutes North and 111 degrees 31-49 minutes West.



MP(colored surficial geology map)
MP(mp(Scale: 1:24,000)
This field searches the scale and type of map. The map scale contains the scale of the map in the form of a ratio, such as 1:1,000,000, the map type describes the type of map such as colored economic geology map.

Monograph Title


MT(Groundwater resources modelling; a case study from the UK)

Use to  locate a specific Monograph



NT(Prepared in cooperation with the State of Massachusetts and other agencies)
This field contains additional information about the record that cannot be categorized into any other fields for example supplementary data such as other formats available or notes on additional volumes or editions or notes such as the example provided above.



PB(Elsevier Science)

Used to retrieve documents from a specific publisher

Publisher location



Use to limit to the Publisher’s location

Report Number



Used to locate a report. This field contains a number that identifies a report. Frequently the report number can include a component that identifies a report series.



SP(Deep Sea Drilling Project)

Use this field to search for a sponsor of the research, such as DSDP, Deep Sea Drilling Project or USGSOP, Non-USGS publications with USGS authors.

Summary Language



Used to search the summary language in a specific language




Used to search for Tags attached to articles. This field is user generated




Used to retrieve all records added during a specific database update. The structure of the field is YYYY-MM-DD