Tag for a plateau or tableland?

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Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Joseph Eisenberg
I'm surprised that I can't find an established tag or wiki page for a
plateau, mesa, or tableland; an area of raised land that is flat on
top:

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plateau and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_(landform)

Small plateaus or mesas may be called a "Butte" in the USA, or a
tableland in some English-speaking regions. See
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte

They are known as "Mesas" in Spanish-speaking areas and related
languages. I believe "plateau" is from French?

These features are common in arid areas of the southwestern United
States and in many other places that have the appropriate geology:
usually there is a hard layer of rock on top of softer layers. This
often forms a flat area with steep slopes or even cliffs at the sides.
They can also from from volcanic activity, or from glaciation.

I searched taginfo for "tableland", "table_land", "table-land",
"plateau" and "mesa".

There are 94 natural=plateau and 3 natural=mesa.
I found no uses of natural=table or table_land or tableland or tableland

Is natural=plateau the best option? This sounds fine to me, as an
American English speaker, but I'd like to know if it's the best
British English option.

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Andrew Harvey-3
Plateau, table, tablelands all used in Australia.

landform=plateau has 5 usages https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/tags/landform=plateau

natural=plateau seems fine to me. Could be called walls sometimes, but to me it's unclear if that's the term for the plateau or the cliffs that surround the plateau.

On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 at 14:56, Joseph Eisenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'm surprised that I can't find an established tag or wiki page for a
plateau, mesa, or tableland; an area of raised land that is flat on
top:

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plateau and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_(landform)

Small plateaus or mesas may be called a "Butte" in the USA, or a
tableland in some English-speaking regions. See
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte

They are known as "Mesas" in Spanish-speaking areas and related
languages. I believe "plateau" is from French?

These features are common in arid areas of the southwestern United
States and in many other places that have the appropriate geology:
usually there is a hard layer of rock on top of softer layers. This
often forms a flat area with steep slopes or even cliffs at the sides.
They can also from from volcanic activity, or from glaciation.

I searched taginfo for "tableland", "table_land", "table-land",
"plateau" and "mesa".

There are 94 natural=plateau and 3 natural=mesa.
I found no uses of natural=table or table_land or tableland or tableland

Is natural=plateau the best option? This sounds fine to me, as an
American English speaker, but I'd like to know if it's the best
British English option.

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

dieterdreist
In reply to this post by Joseph Eisenberg


sent from a phone

> On 17. Apr 2019, at 06:55, Joseph Eisenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I searched taginfo for "tableland", "table_land", "table-land",
> "plateau" and "mesa".
>
> There are 94 natural=plateau and 3 natural=mesa.
> I found no uses of natural=table or table_land or tableland or tableland


there are also 52 natural=plain and no *=high_plain nor * table_mount or flat-top_mount

Would you see a tableland different from table_mount or synonymous? After all these are different words.

Maybe there is overlap?

Generally I would prefer to use an English English term, rather than a Spanish or French English term.

Cheers, Martin


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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Joseph Eisenberg
The several related Wikipedia pages failed to mention Table Mount as a synonym, even though they had plenty of foreign language terms listed. American English bias perhaps?

The first hit I get for “table mount” is Guyot: “In marine geology, a guyot also known as a tablemount, is an isolated underwater volcanic mountain ( seamount)”

That’s not the same. There is also a proper name “Table Mountain”, a flat-topped mountain on the Cape of Good Hope peninsula by Capetown

It looks like the Dutch / Afrikaans term is literally “Tablemountain”. Perhaps it is the same in German?

On Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 4:45 PM Martin Koppenhoefer <[hidden email]> wrote:


sent from a phone

> On 17. Apr 2019, at 06:55, Joseph Eisenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I searched taginfo for "tableland", "table_land", "table-land",
> "plateau" and "mesa".
>
> There are 94 natural=plateau and 3 natural=mesa.
> I found no uses of natural=table or table_land or tableland or tableland


there are also 52 natural=plain and no *=high_plain nor * table_mount or flat-top_mount

Would you see a tableland different from table_mount or synonymous? After all these are different words.

Maybe there is overlap?

Generally I would prefer to use an English English term, rather than a Spanish or French English term.

Cheers, Martin


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Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Frederik Ramm
In reply to this post by Joseph Eisenberg
Josh & others,

I think we need to take a break here from making OSM into a map of
large-scale geographic features.

This is getting out of hand. I vividly remember the endless discussions
about bays and peninsulae. Drainage basins. Now plateaus. I don't
remember mountain ranges in the recent past but if they weren't
discussed then they surely are next.

The way OSM usually works is someone stumbles over something in reality,
with a discernible name or property, and adds it to OSM. We are, first
and foremost, surveyors.

The larger a feature becomes, the less suitable OSM is for mapping it.
And in the case of the several large-scale objects I have mentioned,
most contributors don't even have surveying in mind, but just writing
down existing conventions. I haven't checked, but I would be very
surprised if *anyone* actually used the natural=peninsula tag for
something they happen to identify as a peninsula - no, natural=peninsula
is just a method of putting existing geographical names into OSM
(because the fact that something is a peninsula can be auto-detected).
Same with your plateaus and tablelands now - do you really envisage
someone looking at the landscape around them and saying "why, there's a
hard layer of rock here on top of softer layers, and a couple cliffs at
the sides, I guess I'll map this as a plateau"? No, again this is a
situation where you have third-party information about a plateau (and
likely its name) and are looking for ways to get that into OSM.

All these requests are born from a desire to write down existing
large-scale geological/geographical knowledge. But OSM is ill suited for
that; OSM cannot accommodate imprecise features. If you want to map a
mesa well in OSM then it has to be detectable on the ground, and it has
to have a clearly delineated boundary. What you are trying to do here is
adding large-scale features that come in handy when you want to make a
map ata  1:10m or maybe 1:50m scale. Projects like naturalearthdata.com
are ideally suited for that kind of data. OpenStreetMap is not.

I think we all should stop seeking out one large-scale feature type
after the other that is "missing" from OSM and think about how to best
add them. In my view, the fact that these are underrepresented in OSM is
not an opportunity to "improve" OSM but a sign that OSM isn't the right
place for that kind of data.

Instead, let us find a way of recording such imprecise information
outside of OSM's data model, and make it easy to access it e.g. when
rendering maps.

Bye
Frederik

--
Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail [hidden email]  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Mateusz Konieczny-3



Apr 17, 2019, 11:29 AM by [hidden email]:
I think we all should stop seeking out one large-scale feature type
after the other that is "missing" from OSM and think about how to best
add them. In my view, the fact that these are underrepresented in OSM is
not an opportunity to "improve" OSM but a sign that OSM isn't the right
place for that kind of data.

Instead, let us find a way of recording such imprecise information
outside of OSM's data model, and make it easy to access it e.g. when
rendering maps.
Especially as such features are subjective, with multiple competing definitions
and local survey is not adding anything useful.

For example splitting Earth's oceanic waters into oceans is subjective,
mapping one selected division or all of them is not useful in OpenStreetMap

See
for multiple splits of oceans, see
is similar, the same happens with mountain ranges and other
similar large-scale features.


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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Christoph Hormann-2
In reply to this post by Frederik Ramm
On Wednesday 17 April 2019, Frederik Ramm wrote:

> [...]
>
> The way OSM usually works is someone stumbles over something in
> reality, with a discernible name or property, and adds it to OSM. We
> are, first and foremost, surveyors.
>
> The larger a feature becomes, the less suitable OSM is for mapping
> it. And in the case of the several large-scale objects I have
> mentioned, most contributors don't even have surveying in mind, but
> just writing down existing conventions.

Indeed.  We should always keep in mind that OSM is fundamentally about
collecting local knowledge of the geography.  'local' is key here.  If
you try to map some geometry for the Altiplano or the Tibet Plateau
that is not local knowledge.

As a rule of thumb i'd say something that can at least coarsely be
surveyed on the ground by a single mapper during a single day is
usually suitable to be mapped as a distinct named feature, provided it
is otherwise verifiable of course.  For larger things mapping should
focus on locally mapping locally surveyable constituent parts or
aspects of the feature but i would be very careful with creating
features for them as a whole because this very often drifts from the
OSM idea of mapping local knowledge to a Wikipedia-like recording of
social conventions.

Some of the things Joseph mentioned (like buttes) are certainly mappable
in OSM under this rule - but i'd suggest creating specific well defined
tags with a precise and tight definition for them and not a generic tag
for any elevated region.

In any case i think the most valuable thing to map of any of such is the
constituent elements and aspects of it like natural=cliff,
natural=arete, natural=peak, natural=bare_rock, natural=scree etc.

--
Christoph Hormann
http://www.imagico.de/

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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Tomas Straupis
And here the idea of a new separate data layer (as in GIS) for geometries of fuzzy features rises again... 😉
Waiting for its time.

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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Joseph Eisenberg
In reply to this post by Christoph Hormann-2
I did not intend to encourage mappers to start adding giant
multipolygons for the Tibetan plateau or the Colorado Plateau. In fact
I'm doing my best to discourage mappers from adding non-verifiable,
huge areas to the database: see
https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/pull/3750

I asked about an appropriate tag for tablelands / mesas / plateaus
after finding that several place=locality nodes in Andorra are used to
map features named "Pla de *” (x2) and "Planell(s) *" (x3), both of
which are likely types of plateau, if I'm reading the Catalan
dictionary correctly. It would be nice if many of the place=locality
nodes could be updated to a more specific tag, and there didn't seem
to be anything that fit other than natural=plateau.

Personally, I don't plan to add any closed ways, let alone
multipolgyons, to map large plateaus, though I will check if the Table
Rocks near Medford OR are tagged correctly:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_and_Lower_Table_Rock - tablelands
about 1 and 2 square miles in size with clearly defined borders
(cliffs) on all sides. These would actually be an example of a feature
that does have a verifiable border, and could therefore be mapped as
an area by following the top of the cliff all the way around, but I
don't see any great benefit to doing all that work to copy the path of
the natural=cliff, when a node at the center of the feature will do.

I believe many people are using natural=peak to add the name of
plateaus / mesas / tablelands. This may be acceptable for buttes,
where the flat top of the hill is small, but for a 1 or 2 kilometer
width plateau there may be several topographical peaks, while the name
may refer to the whole flat topped mountain.

(For most mountains natural=ridge is an verifiable alternative when
the name is not actually associated with a particular peak, but some
tablelands are flat enough that a mapper could not be expected to
identify a ridge or a particular peak)

I planned to document the use of natural=plateau - I will suggest that
multipolgyons be avoided and that the tag not be used to map
non-verifiable geometries, like the Columbia plateau, the Altiplano,
or any of the other huge plateaus listed here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plateau#Large_plateaus - these all are
vaguely bordered by hills, mountains and lowlands, quite different
from a small tableland surrounded by cliffs on all sides.

On 4/17/19, Christoph Hormann <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wednesday 17 April 2019, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> [...]
>>
>> The way OSM usually works is someone stumbles over something in
>> reality, with a discernible name or property, and adds it to OSM. We
>> are, first and foremost, surveyors.
>>
>> The larger a feature becomes, the less suitable OSM is for mapping
>> it. And in the case of the several large-scale objects I have
>> mentioned, most contributors don't even have surveying in mind, but
>> just writing down existing conventions.
>
> Indeed.  We should always keep in mind that OSM is fundamentally about
> collecting local knowledge of the geography.  'local' is key here.  If
> you try to map some geometry for the Altiplano or the Tibet Plateau
> that is not local knowledge.
>
> As a rule of thumb i'd say something that can at least coarsely be
> surveyed on the ground by a single mapper during a single day is
> usually suitable to be mapped as a distinct named feature, provided it
> is otherwise verifiable of course.  For larger things mapping should
> focus on locally mapping locally surveyable constituent parts or
> aspects of the feature but i would be very careful with creating
> features for them as a whole because this very often drifts from the
> OSM idea of mapping local knowledge to a Wikipedia-like recording of
> social conventions.
>
> Some of the things Joseph mentioned (like buttes) are certainly mappable
> in OSM under this rule - but i'd suggest creating specific well defined
> tags with a precise and tight definition for them and not a generic tag
> for any elevated region.
>
> In any case i think the most valuable thing to map of any of such is the
> constituent elements and aspects of it like natural=cliff,
> natural=arete, natural=peak, natural=bare_rock, natural=scree etc.
>
> --
> Christoph Hormann
> http://www.imagico.de/
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Andrew Harvey-3
On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 at 23:04, Joseph Eisenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
...These would actually be an example of a feature
that does have a verifiable border, and could therefore be mapped as
an area by following the top of the cliff all the way around, but I
don't see any great benefit to doing all that work to copy the path of
the natural=cliff, when a node at the center of the feature will do.

I would always see a node as just a temporary approach to map a plateau in place of a closed way.

The advantage of a way is renders get a sense of size of the feature and can decide at which zoom level to label it. It also helps for building reverse geocoders so they can say you're on X plateau when inside the area. Neither really possible with just a node. 

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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Christoph Hormann-2
In reply to this post by Joseph Eisenberg
On Wednesday 17 April 2019, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
>
> I believe many people are using natural=peak to add the name of
> plateaus / mesas / tablelands.

Yes, that is definitely the case for buttes and small mesas - but then
again these are features that can be verifiably mapped based on local
knowledge.  However using a generic natural=plateau tag which is then
inevitably used by some mappers to cargo cult polygons around just
about any area of land elevated in some way relative to its surrounding
is not a good idea.

I see nothing wrong with creating natural=butte and natural=mesa with
appropriately tight definitions:  Both being surrounded on all sides by
cliffs or very steep slopes, buttes with a height larger than width and
mesas with a flat top (i.e. height variation across the top being
significantly smaller than the total height).

--
Christoph Hormann
http://www.imagico.de/

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Mark Wagner
In reply to this post by dieterdreist
On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 09:44:33 +0200
Martin Koppenhoefer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> sent from a phone
>
> > On 17. Apr 2019, at 06:55, Joseph Eisenberg
> > <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > I searched taginfo for "tableland", "table_land", "table-land",
> > "plateau" and "mesa".
> >
> > There are 94 natural=plateau and 3 natural=mesa.
> > I found no uses of natural=table or table_land or tableland or
> > tableland  
>
>
> there are also 52 natural=plain and no *=high_plain nor * table_mount
> or flat-top_mount
>
> Would you see a tableland different from table_mount or synonymous?
> After all these are different words.
>
> Maybe there is overlap?
>
> Generally I would prefer to use an English English term, rather than
> a Spanish or French English term.

I don't think there's an English English term for them -- England
barely has any topographical relief at all.  They even had to import
"mountain" from the French.  Unless there's something I'm missing,
we're going to need to pick an English import from one of the countries
that does have plateaus, mesas, or buttes.

--
Mark

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Paul Allen
On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 at 19:11, Mark Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:

I don't think there's an English English term for them -- England
barely has any topographical relief at all.  They even had to import
"mountain" from the French.

The UK does have some topographical relief but not any plateaus that I can think of.  However,
we Brits are familiar with the word - we stole various parts of the world from indigenous
inhabitants which had that sort of topography.

Unless there's something I'm missing, we're going to need to pick an English import
from one of the countries that does have plateaus, mesas, or buttes.

We may have to use all of those words.  From looking at the three relevant articles on
Wikipedia, it appears that mesas are larger than buttes and plateaus are larger than mesas.
Tableland is a synonym of plateau.  I'd say natural=plateau/mesa/butte.  But I expect there will
be many people who disagree with that - there are as many opinions on this list as there
are subscribers.

--
Paul


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Re: Stop the large feature madness

Warin
In reply to this post by Christoph Hormann-2
On 18/04/19 00:02, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> On Wednesday 17 April 2019, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
>> I believe many people are using natural=peak to add the name of
>> plateaus / mesas / tablelands.
> Yes, that is definitely the case for buttes and small mesas - but then
> again these are features that can be verifiably mapped based on local
> knowledge.  However using a generic natural=plateau tag which is then
> inevitably used by some mappers to cargo cult polygons around just
> about any area of land elevated in some way relative to its surrounding
> is not a good idea.

There are also 'points' and 'heads' to name a few other landforms missing in OSM.

To say that they should not be mapped is to deny there existence.
It is not unusual to look for these things .. OSM failure to map them leads to other sources being used.

If large features are not to be mapped in OSM then most countries will have to be removed. :P


>
> I see nothing wrong with creating natural=butte and natural=mesa with
> appropriately tight definitions:  Both being surrounded on all sides by
> cliffs or very steep slopes, buttes with a height larger than width and
> mesas with a flat top (i.e. height variation across the top being
> significantly smaller than the total height).
>


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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Kevin Kenny-3
In reply to this post by Christoph Hormann-2
On Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 7:55 AM Christoph Hormann <[hidden email]> wrote:
> As a rule of thumb i'd say something that can at least coarsely be
> surveyed on the ground by a single mapper during a single day is
> usually suitable to be mapped as a distinct named feature, provided it
> is otherwise verifiable of course.  For larger things mapping should
> focus on locally mapping locally surveyable constituent parts or
> aspects of the feature but i would be very careful with creating
> features for them as a whole because this very often drifts from the
> OSM idea of mapping local knowledge to a Wikipedia-like recording of
> social conventions.

I doubt very much that you're saying what you intended here.

It comes across as saying, for instance, that lakes too big to map on
the ground in a single day should not be mapped, or should not be
named. I think that making large waterbodies disappear would be
ridiculous.

Moreover, if you've mapped something on the ground, what difference
does it make how long it took?  It took me a number of trips over many
days to gather the GPS tracks that were consolidated into
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/4286650. (It was initially
planned as a single trip with two stops for resupply, but the best
laid plans gang aft agley.) On one of those trips I was in the field
for six days straight, and was at times thirty km from the nearest
drivable road. Of course the relation has many constituent ways,
because of tagging for things like bridge=yes or ford=yes, changes of
surface=*, brief stretches where the trail follows a road, and similar
changes. Moreover, I intentionally broke the ways up so as not to have
thousands of nodes on any signle way. But on the ground, the relation
represents a single trail. It has the same name for its entire length
(and is signed where it shares the way with a highway). Is it less
worthy of mapping because in order to order to map one section, I had
to lug enough batteries to keep my GPS going (and enough food to keep
Kevin going) for six days?

Surely you're not arguing that I can't have 'local knowledge' of it
when I've personally had my literal boots on the literal ground for
every step of the way?

I understand that there are fairly severe technological issues at
present, where a plethora of enormous multipolygons breaks some of the
software tools. For now, therefore, I refrain from mapping anything
like the Long Island Sound or the Red Sea as areas, even though I
believe that competent label placement in some renderings will require
that eventually. Similarly, I'm not about to go mapping enormous
linear features or area features for the Mogollon Plateau, the
Catskill Mountains, or the Great Dismal Swamp, The software will catch
up in time, and in the meantime I'll try to be a good neighbour and
not break things; I can experiment on my own database with my own
toolchain. But some large features are unavoidable: I'm not giving up
Lake Champlain or the Adirondack Park just because of their immense
size.

I understand that relations with a vast number of members are also
problematic, which is why I introduced a further level of breakdown
into sections on the not-quite-finished project to map
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/919642 .  I try to be a good
citizen with large objects, but there are large definite objects in
the field, and a rule like "no bigger than a day's walk" is going to
leave us with an urban-only map.

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Joseph Eisenberg
In reply to this post by Paul Allen
I originally thought that just using the existing tag natural=plateau
was easiest, but a couple people have been in favor of using 2 new
tags.

1) natural=butte for hills with small flat tops surrounded by cliffs,
where the width of the flat area is less than the height of the hill.
Wikipedia: " an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a
small, relatively flat top" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte)
These buttes in Monument Valley are a very famous example:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monument_Valley,_late_afternoon.jpg
Courthouse butte in Sedona:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Butte_pdphoto_roadtrip_24_bg_021604.jpg

2) natural=mesa for mountains and hills with flat tops surrounded by
cliffs, where the width of the flat tableland is greater than the
height.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa "an elevated area of land with
a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs"
Eg these mesas in Canyonlands National Park, Utah:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IslandInTheSky.JPG
Lower Table Rock:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lower_Table_Rock_from_the_south.jpg

These definitions are found in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte -
"geographers use the rule of thumb that a mesa has a top that is wider
than its height, while a butte has a top that is narrower than its
height" (citing
http://www.scienceclarified.com/landforms/Faults-to-Mountains/Mesa-and-Butte.html
as a source)

This would leave natural=plateau for any other "area of a highland,
usually consisting of relatively flat terrain, that is raised
significantly above the surrounding area, often with one or more sides
with steep slopes", including large highlands that are less well
defined, and small plateaus that lack the cliffs or steep slopes on
all sides that define a mesa or butte.

Thus mesas and buttes could be mapped as nodes or areas, but plateaus
could only be mapped as nodes.

Thoughts?


On 4/18/19, Paul Allen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 at 19:11, Mark Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>
>> I don't think there's an English English term for them -- England
>> barely has any topographical relief at all.  They even had to import
>> "mountain" from the French.
>
>
> The UK does have some topographical relief but not any plateaus that I can
> think of.  However,
> we Brits are familiar with the word - we stole various parts of the world
> from indigenous
> inhabitants which had that sort of topography.
>
> Unless there's something I'm missing, we're going to need to pick an
>> English import
>> from one of the countries that does have plateaus, mesas, or buttes.
>>
>
> We may have to use all of those words.  From looking at the three relevant
> articles on
> Wikipedia, it appears that mesas are larger than buttes and plateaus are
> larger than mesas.
> Tableland is a synonym of plateau.  I'd say natural=plateau/mesa/butte.
> But I expect there will
> be many people who disagree with that - there are as many opinions on this
> list as there
> are subscribers.
>
> --
> Paul
>

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Andrew Harvey-3
This does make it harder for mappers to decide which one they should use, but if in doubt they can just pick one they think is best.

An alternative is natural=plateau + plateau=butte|mesa or something like that.

> Thus mesas and buttes could be mapped as nodes or areas, but plateaus could only be mapped as nodes.

I still think plateaus should be mapped as areas (only use nodes as a first pass), areas are important for reverse geocoding, identifying size of the feature and cartographic labelling.

On Thu, 18 Apr 2019 at 15:55, Joseph Eisenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
I originally thought that just using the existing tag natural=plateau
was easiest, but a couple people have been in favor of using 2 new
tags.

1) natural=butte for hills with small flat tops surrounded by cliffs,
where the width of the flat area is less than the height of the hill.
Wikipedia: " an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a
small, relatively flat top" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte)
These buttes in Monument Valley are a very famous example:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monument_Valley,_late_afternoon.jpg
Courthouse butte in Sedona:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Butte_pdphoto_roadtrip_24_bg_021604.jpg

2) natural=mesa for mountains and hills with flat tops surrounded by
cliffs, where the width of the flat tableland is greater than the
height.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa "an elevated area of land with
a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs"
Eg these mesas in Canyonlands National Park, Utah:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IslandInTheSky.JPG
Lower Table Rock:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lower_Table_Rock_from_the_south.jpg

These definitions are found in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte -
"geographers use the rule of thumb that a mesa has a top that is wider
than its height, while a butte has a top that is narrower than its
height" (citing
http://www.scienceclarified.com/landforms/Faults-to-Mountains/Mesa-and-Butte.html
as a source)

This would leave natural=plateau for any other "area of a highland,
usually consisting of relatively flat terrain, that is raised
significantly above the surrounding area, often with one or more sides
with steep slopes", including large highlands that are less well
defined, and small plateaus that lack the cliffs or steep slopes on
all sides that define a mesa or butte.

Thus mesas and buttes could be mapped as nodes or areas, but plateaus
could only be mapped as nodes.

Thoughts?


On 4/18/19, Paul Allen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Wed, 17 Apr 2019 at 19:11, Mark Wagner <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>
>> I don't think there's an English English term for them -- England
>> barely has any topographical relief at all.  They even had to import
>> "mountain" from the French.
>
>
> The UK does have some topographical relief but not any plateaus that I can
> think of.  However,
> we Brits are familiar with the word - we stole various parts of the world
> from indigenous
> inhabitants which had that sort of topography.
>
> Unless there's something I'm missing, we're going to need to pick an
>> English import
>> from one of the countries that does have plateaus, mesas, or buttes.
>>
>
> We may have to use all of those words.  From looking at the three relevant
> articles on
> Wikipedia, it appears that mesas are larger than buttes and plateaus are
> larger than mesas.
> Tableland is a synonym of plateau.  I'd say natural=plateau/mesa/butte.
> But I expect there will
> be many people who disagree with that - there are as many opinions on this
> list as there
> are subscribers.
>
> --
> Paul
>

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Re: Tag for a plateau or tableland?

Paul Allen
On Thu, 18 Apr 2019 at 07:09, Andrew Harvey <[hidden email]> wrote:
This does make it harder for mappers to decide which one they should use, but if in doubt they can just pick one they think is best.

The local convention as to what it is may help them decide. 

An alternative is natural=plateau + plateau=butte|mesa or something like that.

The problem with that is that plateau, butte and mesa refer to (depending upon which Wikipedia
article you look at) either different absolute sizes or different height/area ratios.  And while
plateau=butte and plateau=mesa may not offend too many sensibilities, plateau=plateau looks
rather silly.  And you can't use plateau=yes because that might be used for "it's flat but I can't
tell if it's a butte or a mesa."

--
Paul


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Re: Stop the large feature madness (was: Tag for a plateau or tableland?)

Christoph Hormann-2
In reply to this post by Kevin Kenny-3
On Thursday 18 April 2019, Kevin Kenny wrote:
>
> I doubt very much that you're saying what you intended here.
>
> It comes across as saying, for instance, that lakes too big to map on
> the ground in a single day should not be mapped, or should not be
> named. I think that making large waterbodies disappear would be
> ridiculous.

You apparently misunderstood what i said.  My 'surveyable in a single
day by a single mapper' rule of thumb refers to mapping something as a
single feature.  A river several thousand kilometers long for example.  
The river is locally still a verifiable element of the geography and
can be mapped - piece by piece as it is generally established practice
in OSM.  But if you create a feature for the whole river extending over
thousands of kilometers that is not something you do based on local
knowledge, that is based on social conventions you have read up in a
book, on wikipedia or elsewhere.

As far as physical geography is concerned (so i leave out boundary and
route relations here - which are a different thing) we have essentially
only two types of feature that are generally accepted to be mapped with
large relations:  lakes and islands.  Both of these were not always
mapped this way - large lakes were for a long time mapped only
locally - like the coastline.  Both of these are technically
unnecessary to be mapped this way (there is no actual information
transported in assembling the ways into an MP relation) because their
geometry derives non-ambiguously from the locally mapped water
outlines.  The decision to create MPs none the less mostly comes from
the desire to have consistency with smaller features (which are
obviously locally verifiable as a whole).

Everything else in physical geography is typically mapped locally piece
by piece like the rivers and creating large features - while done by
some mappers for the purpose of label painting - is generally disliked
by most mappers because it is very hard to work with these and
represents no additional meaningful information.

> Moreover, if you've mapped something on the ground, what difference
> does it make how long it took?

It is a rule of thumb.  The rule itself has no meaning on its own, it is
designed to make it easy to determine a reasonable limit.

> I understand that there are fairly severe technological issues at
> present, where a plethora of enormous multipolygons breaks some of
> the software tools.

My argument is not a technological one, it is a social one.  Mapping
only things verifiable based on local knowledge in OSM is essential for
the social cohesion of the project across many different cultures world
wide without creating an imperialistic dominance of some cultures over
others.

--
Christoph Hormann
http://www.imagico.de/

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Re: Stop the large feature madness

Christoph Hormann-2
In reply to this post by Warin
On Thursday 18 April 2019, Warin wrote:
>
> There are also 'points' and 'heads' to name a few other landforms
> missing in OSM.

While i have an understanding of what a mesa and a butte are i have no
idea how you define a 'point' or 'head' so no comment on that.

> To say that they should not be mapped is to deny there existence.

No, to say some things should not be mapped acknowledges that OSM is
about recording verifiable local knowledge and not "everything that
exists" - whatever that means.

> It is not unusual to look for these things .. OSM failure to map them
> leads to other sources being used.

Exactly.  We need to establish that there are things outside the scope
of OSM for which you need other projects to collect data about them.

--
Christoph Hormann
http://www.imagico.de/

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