Naming Conventions

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Location Hierarchy

Location hierarchy starts on the left with the location and goes up the hierarchy to the country level on the right. The various levels are separated by commas.

There is a lot of freedom in what a particular level represents for any given country. The level below the country could represent a province, state, county or even a special category depending upon the organization of that country.

Thus a level can represent a number of different political divisions (or other area - ie. Antarctica or the ocean bottoms without political subdivisions, or even the moon).

Localities can be as compact as a small road cut or refer to areas containing many square miles (some agate fields, rock outcrops, etc.). Normally, the smallest division is a mine or quarry, but this can be subdivided into shafts, veins or stopes if there is a significant difference in the mineralogy associated with particular areas.

It is important that you try and fit a location into it's proper place in the hierarchy (this is why you need to do a search for the general locality). If you feel that the hierarchy for a particular country or area should be changed, please post a message to the Mistakes and Errors forum.

Political subdivisions have priority in the hierarchy over geological or mining area designations. For instance in the western US., if a mining district is found in two different counties, it is listed under both counties. ie.

X mine, Y district, Z Co., State, USA


A mine, Y district, C Co., State, USA

You can also have some of geological areas extending across country boundaries.

It is preferable to use the current political subdivisions in the hierarchy. If there is an older common name, it can be incorporated as an alternate name, or if it has be subsequently divided into a number of new entities, it can be listed separately and the Locality Description field can cross reference to the new divisions (ie. the Transvaal in South Africa has become a number of different provinces). Also in Europe, where boundaries have changed frequently in the past, these changes can be handled in a similar manner. Good resources for current political subdivisions can be found in the Statoids or the CIA reports.

If possible, the locations should be placed in a political hierarchy (in the US this should be at least to the county level). For instance, "Randall Mine, South Africa" would not give a very clear indication of where in the country this mine was (unless you have the latitude/longitude coordinates). Unfortunately, (especially for descriptions in older literature) this may be all the information that is available in a reference.

For nonlatin languages (primarily Asian nations, but also including Russian, Greek, Arabic), there is also the problem of transliteration into a Latin alphabet. It is best if the current transliteration scheme is used and previous names can be added as an alternate name ie. - Beijing (Peking), China or Pune (Poona), India.

Brazil Hierarchy

  • Country - Brazil
  • Region - Southeast
  • State - Minas Gerais
  • City - Diamantina
  • District - Sopa
  • Mine - Seu José Mine

New Zealand Hierarchy

  • Country - New Zealand
  • North Island/South Island
  • Region - major political division
  • District/City - minor political division
  • Area - general geographic location
  • Locality - specific geographic location

Islands administered by Districts or Regions will be included in the North/South system; the Chatham Islands have their own district (which doubles as a region). This means that Stewart Island and Great Barrier Island will show under the South and North Islands respectively. 'Remote' islands such as the Kermadecs, Bounty, Antipodes etc. which are directly controlled by central government will appear in the form of Country - Island Group - Island Name - Area - Locality.

A number of Cities and Districts have the same name as the Region they come under - you should include 'City' or 'District' to distinguish these. So the current entry of 'Mossburn, Southland, South Island, New Zealand' would become 'Mossburn, Southland District, Southland, South Island, New Zealand'.

Norway Hierarchy

  • Country - Norway
  • Fylke (County/shire) - Aust-Agder
  • Kommune (communicipalities) - Evje og Hornnes
  • Place (nearest farm or place...) - Landsverk
  • Mine/Pegmatite/Quarry, etc... - Landsverk 1

Meteorite Locality Listings

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.

The name of the meteorite find is the first item in the locality name, followed by regional information in the normal manner. For example:

Allan Hills (ALH) 88070 meteorite, Victoria Land, Antarctica

When describing any meteorite mineralogy, please refer to the following link:

Meteorite Classification List (NHM, London)

If you can identify and describe the classification of the meteorite it will help tremendously.

You should identify the location with meteorite in the name, it is then possible to find all meteorites on by doing a locality search with "meteorite" as a parameter.

Slag Localities

If you are entering a locality that has produced specimens from the slags of smelters, you should include "(slag locality)" after the primary name.

Formatting rules

The levels of the hierarchy are separated by a comma followed by a single space. Alternate names are enclosed in parentheses - (). If more than one alternate name is listed, these are separated by semicolons - ; . Mine and quarry are not capitalized unless it is part of a formal name ie. "Black Bear Mine" "Mine LaMonte" "France Stone Quarry", but are not capitalized if you have a name such as "Unnamed mine". Mine and quarry are the only descriptive locality words that are capitalized (not pit, deposit, or vein). If a locality is known by more than one name (due to changes in ownership over the years, consolidation of mining companies, or if there is a formal name and a popular local name ie. the old Spanish mine), an alternate name should be added to the locality string rather than creating another separate locality. The main name should be the current name unless it is better known by the previous name. The alternate name is listed out in full and is not placed within the string ie - "Black Bear Mine (Robert Mine; James prospect)" not "Black Bear (Robert) Mine". "Near" should not be used in the locality string (it can be placed in the Locality Description block). If there is more than one locality in an area they can be distinguished by number ie. "Unnamed prospect (1)" "Unnamed prospect (2)" etc.. Road cuts should probably be listed under the nearest locality and the route number (road name) included under the description.


We use the following STANDARD rule for all abbreviations. If the last letter of the abbreviation is NOT the last letter of the word it is abbreviating, it is followed by a dot (.) - so Co. is correct, but St. is NOT correct (for Saint) - Further to this, St. isn't appropriate for the abbreviation of French names containing "Sainte", because that should be abbreviated to Ste - without a dot.

In normal English usage, the word 'Mount' precedes a name, for example: (and also note correct abbreviation of Saint)

Mt St Helens, Washington, USA

and the word Mountain follows after certain locations, eg

Splash Mtn, Disneyland, Orlando, Florida, USA

The following is the complete list of standard locality abbreviations used in You should always use these where necessary, and you should not arbitrarily introduce new abbreviations. If a chemical abbreviation is used in the literature, you can use it in the locality listing (ie. XYZ Cu mine - for a deposit that was mined for copper, or REE for rare earth element). Also, if County or Company appear in the name of a mine or quarry, they will be spelled out, not abbreviated, to preclude confusion since they have the common "Co." abbreviation.

Co. - County
incl. - including
Mt - Mount
Mtn - Mountain
Mts - Mountains
No. - Number
St - Saint
Ste - Sainte (in French locality names)
twp - township
UK - United Kingdom
USA - United States of America

Words that are NOT abbreviated (some common examples)

Quarry (NOT Qy)
Level (NOT Lv or Lvl)
Wheal (Cornish mines - NOT abbreviated to W. or Wh.)

Characters with diacritical marks

There are a number of diacritically marked letters that are used in non English alphabets. These characters can and should be used in the locality string.

The simplest way of entering these if they are not available on your keyboard is to copy and paste them into the locality name string.

If you are using a Microsoft Windows operating system, you can use the Character Map tool (found in your Accessories/System Tools menu from the Windows Start button) to select a character to copy and paste. You must select a Unicode font (normally Arial Unicode MS) to be able to get the correct range of characters, copying symbols from other fonts (eg WingDings) will NOT map to the correct characters.

Some extended characters can be entered using keyboard shortcuts, by holding down the Left Alt key and typing a four digit sequence on the numeric keypad. eg LeftAlt+0233=é. The Full Extended Character Chart can be viewed.

The site supports the full unicode character set (including european, east european, greek, russian, chinese, japanese and other character sets) however not all browsers will be able to display all characters you enter. We still prefer you to enter in characters as accurately as you can, without attempting to 'westernize' locality names. In the case of non-western alphabets (Greek, Russian & Asian Character Sets), a transliteration to a western style is required, based where possible on standard conventions for transliteration (For simplified chinese, the PinYin system of transliteration should be used, for localities in South Korea use the "new Hangeul system").

Many of the browsers will also have applications that allow you to select unicode characters.

  • Chrome - unicode
  • Firefox - unicode input tool / converter
  • opera widget: Unicode Charts

Locality Editor Add Minerals to a Locality