User and Contributor Manual
Locality Hierarchies and Naming Conventions
When contributing information related to localities, it is critical that you place a locality within the correct hierarchy, as well as follow the established rules for formatting and abbreviations. This creates consistency within the mindat.org database and ensures that your contributions are a useful addition to the database.
Locality hierarchies are a way of designating more specific locations that fall within larger, more general locations. The mindat.org hierarchies follow a format where the left-most entry in a location string is the most specific level, and each location moving towards the right is a more general level that encompasses the previous listings.
Locality levels are divided in respect to the political boundaries in any given country – this means there is some variety between countries, as the level below the country itself could represent a province, state, county, or other category depending on the organization in that country.
Normally the most specific level refers to a mine or quarry – however, this may occasionally be subdivided into shafts, veins, or stopes, although this practice is currently discouraged except for instances where the distinction is of significance. Significance may be defined by unique mineralogy or historical importance (ex: the Trotter shaft of the Franklin Mine, which is the type locality of bementite; levels within the Gold Hill Mine, Utah which produced different minerals; etc.).
Similarly, the most general level typically refers to a country – however, in situations such as Antarctica, ocean bottoms (which have specific locality pages reserved for that purpose), and other planets, the country division does not apply. Geologic formation/structure names should not be used in locality strings except when absolutely necessary.
Localities should always be listed within the appropriate hierarchy – a listing such as “Randall Mine, South Africa” does not give any clear indication of where a mine is located within South Africa. Occasionally, and especially in descriptions found in older literature, this may be all the information available. In this situation, locate the most specific locality possible in the hierarchy. In some cases it may only be possible to list at the country level.
If a locality is known by more than one name, an alternate name should be added to the locality rather than creating a separate locality. This can include localities that have changed names due to changes in ownership or consolidation of mining companies, as well as localities that have a formal name and a popular local name. The primary name should be the current name if the mine quarry is active, and the final name used for inactive localities unless it is better known by a historical name (ex. Chimney Rock Quarry, New Jersey; Nelly James Mine, Arizona). Alternate names should be placed in parentheses following the primary name with semi-colons between multiple alternate names. - see below for formatting guidelines.
NOTE - for regions with alternative names, or for obscure alternative names for other localities, (eg spelling variants, historical names) use the "Historic/Alternative names" field, do NOT put them in parentheses in the main name.
The word "near," or any similar words, should not be used in the locality name. This information can be added as part of the locality description where the specifics "near" and description of what "near" means in terms of direction and/or distance can be added.
If a locality is recorded as "Near XXX village" in the literature, the locality should NOT be added just as the village name, but instead should be added, for example as "Kryptonite locality", with 'Near xxx village' in the description, if coordinates are available (the nearest villages should be shown automatically on the locality page).
Always select the correct locality type for new localities. If it is a mine or quarry in village XXX, do not simply put XXX as the name, but always XXX mine or XXX quarry, or 'Unidentified quarry, XXX, ' if the name is not clear.
Within the mindat database, localities are described in a manner where political subdivisions have priority over geological or mining area designations. Localities are listed under current political subdivisions. If there is an older name, it can be incorporated as an alternate name. In order to address issues regarding disputed political boundaries, changes will only be recognized when a) a new political boundary has been recognized worldwide or b) an unrecognized boundary has been established for a period of five years under the clear political control of one specific country or regime. We wish to avoid political decisions by simply leaving things to the more practical rule of "If I need to visit this place, which country would issue the visa?"
However, since geology has little regard for the lines people like to draw on maps, there are times when a locality will span across multiple political boundaries (ex.: the Viburnum Trend District, located in Reynolds, Iron, Washington, and Madison Co., Missouri), is a historical region that has been subdivided into a number of new entities (ex.: the Transvaal in South Africa has become a number of different provinces), or other situations that require special handling in their placement within the locality hierarchy.
There are two methods to handling how to place these localities in the locality hierarchy system: 1) using Placeholders or 2) using Non-Hierarchical Regions.
If you are adding a locality that needs special handling, please describe the situation in a post to the Mistakes section in the Messageboard so that a mindat.org manager can assist you in doing this correctly.
Levels of a hierarchy are separated by a comma followed by a single space.
Aga Khan Mine, Poona, Cue Shire, Western Australia, Australia
Alternate names are enclosed in parentheses - (). If more than one alternate name is listed, these are separated by semicolons- ;.
Fäld mine (Imfeld mine; Feld mine), Binn Valley, Valais, Switzerland
Do NOT use alternate names in this manner for political regions.
Alternate names are listed out in full in parenthesis after the locality string element to which they pertain; alternate names are not placed in between words of the locality string.
CORRECT: Lily mine (Lilly mine), Pisco Umay, Ica Department, Peru
INCORRECT: Lily (Lilly) mine, Pisco Umay, Ica Department, Peru
Terms such as 'Mine' and 'Quarry' in a locality name should only be capitalized when 'Mine' is part of the official name of the site, for example by the mine owners. In general when a mine is named in another language, such as Russian, the translation to English should not use a capitalized word for mine, however if they have an official English language variant of their mine name which is capitalized, we can use this. Don't get too worried about this rule. We've not been able to agree between ourselves in 19 years the right way to do this. We know sometimes it looks 'right' capitalized, and sometimes it doesn't.
We are trying to move away from abbreviations to make things easier to understand and to translate. These rules are different to previous instructions and many localities will need to be updated over time.
Abbreviations should generally be avoided. Previously we encouraged the use of Mt. and Mts. for mount and mountains, but we would now prefer these to be fully spelled out eg
Mount Everest, Himalaya mountains, Nepal
If there is more than one locality in the area with the same name,, they can be designated by number within brackets - [ ] but only if no other sensible way of dividing them is available.
Unnamed Vanadium prospect , South Mountain, Santa Fe Co., New Mexico, USA
Unnamed Vanadium prospect , South Mountain, Santa Fe Co., New Mexico, USA
If you are entering a locality that has produced only specimens from the slag of smelters, you should include “slag locality” after the primary name.
Baratti slag locality, Piombino, Livorno Province, Tuscany, Italy
Road cuts and localities along waterways should be listed under the nearest locality in the hierarchy and the route number (road name) included in the name.
US Highway 101 roadcut, Healdsburg, Sonoma Co., California, USA
State Route 111 road cuts, Long Hill, Trumbull, Fairfield Co., Connecticut, USA
Details such as which side of the road/waterway the locality is located and the kilometer or mile marker(s) involved should be added in the locality description, not in the locality name. Examples of descriptions for road cut localities are as follows:
- South side of Autobahn A4, km marker 225.
- North side of US highway 223, between mile markers 134 & 135.
- Intersection of US highway 213 and Interstate highway 35, along ramp from eastbound highway 213 to northbound interstate 35.
In the United States, waterways have mile markers that can be found on USGS topo maps. In Europe, the Rhein River & other rivers have km markers along their courses and can be used where necessary. Examples of descriptions for waterway localities are as follows:
- North side of Middle Fork American River, just upstream of river mile 104.
- Midstream between river mile markers 109 & 110, Middle Fork American River.
Mindat.org discourages the use of abbreviations. All data entered, including references, should be spelled out in full except for a limited set of authorized abbreviations that should always be abbreviated - these are listed below. In order to maintain consistency across the database, the following rules for usage of abbreviations MUST be adhered to.
The following is a complete list of standard locality abbreviations and common abbreviations found in locality files, as used in mindat.org. You should always use these abbreviations. DO NOT use your own abbreviations.
Words that ARE abbreviated:
- Co. - county
- GNIS - Geographic Names Identification System, a USGS database of correct & alternate place names
- MRDS - Mineral Resources Data System (A USGS database listing most recognized deposits)
- No. - number (avoid using # where possible)
- UK – United Kingdom
- USA – United States of America
- USGS - United States Geological Survey
The following terms can be abbreviated if the locality names are usually abbreviated, but can be spelled out fully if they are more commonly used in that way.
St, or St. – SaintSte – Sainte (in French locality names)
For example (both are valid):
St Day, Cornwall, England, UK
Saint Pierre and Miquelon, France
Abbreviations and symbols unique to a country or region should NOT be used in text within the description block - do NOT use any symbols or abbreviations that might not be easily understood throughout the world. Examples are as follows:
- Do NOT use " ° " or " ' " for foot/feet.
- Do NOT use " " " for inches.
- Do NOT use "t" for (non-metric) ton.
Abbreviations for metric SI units, such as m, km, kg etc) are correct and can be used. If secondary imperial measurements are used, the abbreviations yd. yds. ft. in. lb. lbs. oz. oz. gal. Troy oz. are acceptable as they are widely understood. Do not use mi. qt. pt. st. dwt. gr. sq mi. cu yd or other more archaic or technical abbreviations as they are less widely understood or more easily misinterpreted.
Dimensions, depths, and distances should always be given in metric terms. If the Imperial/US units are known you can add these additional in parentheses.
There are a number of diacritically marked letters that are used in non-English alphabets. These characters should be used in the locality string where appropriate.
International English versions of names should be used in preference to any local language name where possible, and if that excludes diacritical marks from the original language they should be removed also.
A good rule is to use the same variant of the name that Wikipedia uses for the English language article for the locality/region.
Meteorites pose a special problem. In the majority of cases the mineralogy of the meteorite is completely unconnected to the mineralogy of the area, it is just a matter of chance as to where it falls. In some cases though the meteorite impact can dramatically change the mineralogy of the area where it lands, so rather than classing Meteorites as a special case with their own top-level category, we have decided to integrate them with the regional mineralogies of the countries and regions in which they are found.
Note that all meteorite files MUST have the word "meteorite" in the locality string.
This makes it possible to find all meteorites on mindat.org by doing a locality search with "meteorite" as a parameter.
Meteorite entries should be entered in the mindat.org database using the nomenclature established by the Meteoritical Society and using the following format:
[Official Name] meteorite [meteorite abbreviation]
Allan Hills A76004 meteorite (ALHA76004)
If you need to verify the nomenclature of a meteorite, please refer to the Meteoritical Bulletin Database.
For Martian or lunar meteorites, please add this as an adjective before the term meteorite. This makes it possible to search specifically for Martian or lunar meteorites.
Dhofar 019 Martian meteorite
In some cases the official meteorite name contains parentheses, and this is the only case within mindat.org locality names where it is acceptable to include parentheses inside the name rather than at the end. For example:
Albin (pallasite) meteorite, Laramie Co., Wyoming, USA
All meteorite names should be followed by regional information in the normal manner.
Allan Hills A76004 meteorite (ALHA76004), Victoria Land, Antarctica
Meteorites from Northwest Africa without a more specific locality should be added in this format:
Northwest Africa 1934 meteorite (NWA 1934), Northwest Africa Meteorites
For more information about how to update locality languages and regional boundaries, click here.