Geology in the Great Canadian North: How the Yukon Geological Survey uses Avenza Maps

We don’t realize how much we rely on a stable internet connection until we’re without one. Before smartphones and digital maps and devices, paper maps were the standard for figuring out where you were and what you could be looking at. Could you imagine flying in a helicopter, moving 200 km per hour with a paper map to determine your location? That’s what the Yukon Geological Survey used to do before they found Avenza Maps and digital maps became the norm.

We spoke to Maurice Colpron and Brett Elliott from the Yukon Geological Survey to better understand how they use Avenza Maps in the field.


While the transformation of map-making throughout the last few decades has progressively become easier and more advanced, the world of physical maps has taken a while to catch up. Originally making maps by hand, AutoCAD, and finally, into the ESRI ecosystem, digital maps for the Yukon Geological Survey were born. Once the maps were digital, creating them was much simpler, but how could they evolve from paper maps in the field to digital maps? Maurice came across Avenza Maps in 2012 when introduced by a colleague. Brett was introduced to Avenza Maps because the team he was working on used it as a solution for remote access to maps. Once they loaded their maps into the app, they knew that Avenza Maps was their solution.

The Yukon Geological Survey now uses Avenza Maps for keeping track of their location while out doing fieldwork in the summers. “The nature of doing geology work is being out in the field with absolutely no cell reception.”


"Avenza Maps provides an easy way to take digital maps out of the office,” Maurice says. “Offline maps are extremely powerful in our industry because they allow us to work in remote areas with no reception easily."


Yukon Geological Survey also has decided to upload their geological maps on the Avenza Map Store. “We decided to put our maps in the Map Store and give the public access to the maps, these are just the second version of the maps, and we’ll be updating them in the future,” Brett tells us. “The beauty of digital maps is that they’re easy to update.”

“One of my favourite features of the app is that I can zoom in and out between different map tiles to see larger-scale maps underneath easily,” Maurice tells us. “We also love that the service is completely offline. No need to access the cloud while in the field. We can take just our iPads and get to work.”

You can find the Yukon Geological Survey maps here in the Map Store! If you’re interested in how Avenza Maps can help improve your workflow, click here to get more information.