International Cartographic Association

Working Group on Marine Cartography


Mr. Ronald A. Furness





on the state of the „Multilingual gazetteer of undersea features”


(Mátyás  M á r t o n,  Ph. D., associate professor

Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Science,

Department of Cartography, Budapest)





When the ICA conference was held in Budapest, in 1989, I proposed to the Commission on Marine Cartography to take the following two subjects into their program:

 I. Multilingual gazetter of undersea features

II. The face of the sea-floor (An atlas of undersea features)


One of these (the first proposition) was accepted as Mr. Ronald Linton (who was the chairman at that time) wrote me in his letter.

So I would like to give you a report on the state of my work.



The multilingual gazetteer of the Arctic Ocean


The first part of this work „The multilingual gazetteer of the Arctic Ocean” has been completed as far as a could make it. It consist of two main parts: the SEAS and the UNDERSEA FEATURES, and containes ten chapters and four maps as follows:



     Map 1: Boundaries of the seas from different sources

     Map 2: Boundary of the Arctic Ocean based on

            structural-morphological lines

  I. The names of the seas

 II. Index (Latin)

III. Index (Cyrillic)

 IV. The origin of the names



     Map 3: Relief map of the Arctic Ocean

     Map 4: Boundaries and codes of undersea features

   V. The names of the undersea features

  VI. Index (Latin)

 VII. Index (Cyrillic)

VIII. The origin of the names

  IX. Generic terms in geographical names and definitions of

      undersea features (in English, French, German, Czech,

      Russian, Hungarian)

   X. Sources, literature


This gazetteer contains Hungarian, English, German, Czech and Russian names and definitions using the original forms of the names (no transliteration or transcription). To tell the truth, French names are missing because I could not find good French source material (authentic maps or a gazetteer) in Hungary.

            The database is on PC computer. We used DBASE software. Maps were made by traditional cartographic methods.

            During the work, the studying the foreign names brought us to determine the rules of the construction of correct Hungarian names for undersea features corresponding to the decisions and recommendations of the U. N. Conferences on the Standardization on Geographical Names. There is no place here to summarise the results in detaile, and it is not necessary either, because it is important only for Hungarian cartographers. The only thing we have to mention here is that the most important question to solve the problem of constructing different national names in a correct way is to determine those types of names that according to the international practice we can translate. That is why very useful studying geographical names of undersea features in different languages for constructing correct national names.



The multilingual gazetteer

of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans

(A basic material and database for a planned GIS)


We are continuing this work for the North Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans with the help of students at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. But these maps are on PC as well. We planned to create a GIS for the Oceans using MapInfo software.

            An undersea feature is a delimited geographic area with different kinds of associated attributes or characteristics (first of all its name, its morphological character, vertical and horizontal dimensions: relative height to its surroundigs, absolute depth of its highest point from the sea level etc.). Though submarine objects are delimited areas, in most cases it is not enough for their localization to give a pair of coordinates.

            Undersea features (spatial objects of the Earth's solid surface) such as other morphological features on lands can be divided into the following main groups from the point of view of a GIS (according to Star, J. and J. Estes, 1990).

            A point is a spatial object with „no area”. Seamounts or tablemounts, for example are undersea features, which can be localized by a pair of coordinates.

            A line is a spatial object made of a connected sequence of points. Lines have „no width”. Such object can be a submarine canyon, a shelf valley or a trench.

            Nodes are special kinds of points usually indicating the junction between lines or the ends of line segments. (E. g. a connecting point of a shelf valley to a canyon.)

            A polygon is a closed area. Simple polygons are undivided areas, while complex polygons are divided into areas of different characteristics. The Eurasia Basin in the Arctic Ocean is a complex polygon, because it is divided into three large parts: the Fram Basin, the Nansen Cordillera and the Nansen Basin, which are also separately complex poligons containing different areas of different characteristics such as subbasins, abyssal plains etc.

            Chains are special kinds of line segments, which correspond to a portion of the bounding edge of a polygon. (For example a trench can be a part of the „contour line” of a basin.)

            It is evident that lines, polygons and chains cannot be localized by a pair of coordinates.

            One of the basic material to construct a GIS is a well chosen map or maps (the map itself is an analogue information system). If we look through the content of the „Multilingual gazetteer of the Arctic Ocean” we can see that it is a good database for an information system based, for example, on using „MapInfo”. It contains all the maps needed for a medium level representation of the relief of the sea floor; it contains all the maps needed for a high level representation of the boundaries of the seas and of the main undersea features; it contains all the needed information for the official English and Hungarian names and (French), German, Russian and Czech name variants for both the seas and the undersea features, and we can find in it too, where the names came from (it tell us their origin as well). We think to supplement this completed system with a new code number which would be useful at the selection of the objects represented, depending on the scale of the map compiled.

            That is why we think it very important to complete the above mentioned work for the whole World Ocean. When we finish this work, we shall have a good database for the compilation of all small scale maps of the oceans and seas from the scale of 1:2.500.000 to the scale of 1:80.000.000; for all kinds of general geographic maps, world map series, wall maps, atlases and globes.


Köln, 3 May 1993


                                                                                    Mátyás MÁRTON