Spatial Analysis in GIS

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Geographic information systems uses spatial analysis in order to understand geographic questions.

This list is a work in progress. If you would like to submit an article or GIS tutorial covering a theme in spatial analysis, visit the submissions page for guidelines.

Area Cartograms

Area cartogram maps are maps of non-absolute space where the areal extent is in proportion to some measured value. More: Area Cartograms Explored.


Buffering in GIS creates a polygon layer that extends out or in from a set distance from a point, line, or polygon. More: Buffers in GIS, Buffering Tool for ArcGIS.

Clip Analysis

Clip analysis is the function of using the extent of one geographic layer to clip the extent of another geographic layer. More: Clip Analysis using ArcGIS Desktop.

Distance Decay

Distance decay is a phenomenon observed between locations or ethnic groups- the further apart they are, the less likely it is that they will interact very much. More: Distance Decay.


Geocoding is a way of georeferencing data by using a GIS data layer that has locational information. More: Geocoding.

Heat Maps

Heat mapping, from a geographic perspective, is a method of showing the geographic clustering of a phenomenon. More: Heat maps in GIS.

Line of Sight and Visibility Analysis

Light of sight measures the unimpeded view or access from one point to another point across a terrain or surface. Visibility analysis is the end result, a line color coded to show which segments are visible and which segments have an obstructed view. More: Light of Sight.

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