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Aerial Photo Mosaics


    Photo index (Southwestern Pennsylvania)


    Individual aerial photograph from photo index
    (Southwestern Pennsylvania)

Aerial Photo Mosaics were the aerial photo finding aids during the creation and photo revision of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographic map series. The film is referenced as a series of photo indexes (mosaics), each of which consists of a single-sheet composite of many individual photos. The photos date from the 1937 through 1980, and they were originally acquired by a variety of sources, such as the USGS, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and the Army Map Service. This sporadic collection does not follow any specific schedule or pattern.

Index/Mapping Photography varies in scale, size, quality, and coverage. A majority of the photos were taken from a vertical perspective. Most are in black & white (B/W), although color and color-infrared (CIR) may be available for some locations.

Coverage Maps

Coverage Maps indicating the availability of Aerial Photo Mosaics are available for download.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center digitized all photo mosaics in the USGS/EROS archive and the individual frames from each index. Single frame database records have also been produced for a majority of these indexes retiring the need for them. Frame level records are available from the Aerial Photo Single Frames data set. 

What remains in the Aerial Photo Mosaics collection are index records that are the only search mechanism into these historical aerial projects. These can be searched on EarthExplorer in the Aerial Photographs - USGS Aerial Photo Mosaic collection.

The photo indexes range in file size from 12 - 92 mb and a majority are black and white (TIFF) images. 

Data Use and Citation Policies

For information on how to cite USGS data plus guidance on usage restrictions,
please see our Data Citations and Use page at

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and
does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Contact Information for User Assistance

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001

Phone Number: 605-594-6151
Toll Free: 800-252-4547
Fax: 605-594-6589


Business Hours: Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central Time