A comprehensive and rapid technique for the areal reconnaissance and geologic evaluation of land utilizes computer-assisted data storage, retrieval, manipulation, and display of geologic data (factors) to demonstrate suitable areas for specific uses. Both continuous field data (for example, hydrologic maps) and point data (for example, water-well data) are used as data sources, and derived-data maps (for example, soil maps and geologic maps) are sources of multiple factors. Factors critical to determining the suitability of the land for a given use are compiled by constructing individual factor matrices on a grid, each cell of which represents a unit parcel of land. For each factor, matrix cells are assigned numeric values proportional to the suitability of the factor for the intended land use project. The matrices are weighted according to the project requirements and are summed. The potential optimal sites can then be identified by high summations. A combination of block perspective drawings and contour maps display the results in an easily understood format.

By altering input criteria and weighting parameters, alternative land use management plans can be rapidly and inexpensively investigated. The technique is illustrated by a pilot project designed and conducted to locate optimal sites for solid-waste, liquid-waste, and on-site septic waste disposal facilities in Roscommon County, Michigan. Geologic, hydrologic, and socio-economic factors were used as siting criteria. The results of this study indicate that the existing waste disposal facilities may not be sited optimally, and a land use conflict is indicated for uncontrolled future area development.

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