Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

GeoRef : Searchable Fields


GeoRef boasts it's own thesaurus, now on it's 11th edition. It contains more than 30,800 controlled vocabulary terms. The Thesaurus is an indispensable tool for efficient searching of the GeoRef database. It allows you to view any broader, narrower or related term or terms to facilitate retrieval of a more relevant set of results.

As well as the aforementioned hierarchical relationships, the thesaurus also includes as appropriate, usage notes, dates of addition, indexing rules, geographic coordinates and guidelines for searching.  Cross-references from invalid to valid terms are also included.

The Indexing terms and text in this thesaurus are expressed in American English with limited entry points for variant spellings. However it maybe worth noting the ProQuest platform operates lemmatisation for English and American varient spellings available when conducting a keyword search (as opposed to a thesaurus or subject look-up search).

GeoRef thesaurus terms are included in the subject terms however the GeoRef thesaurus holds exclusively GeoRef thesaurus vocabulary. See the Look-ups and Browseable indexes section below for more information on using the subject index.

Below are explanations of the relationships that may occur for any given term: 

  • Geographic Coordinates (CO)

For a geographic term, the rectangular area covered by the term, expressed in latitudes and longitudes; degrees, minutes, and seconds. For example, for Brazos County Texas, N lat. 30°20’-30°58’ and W long. 96°5’-96°40’, the coordinates are:

CO N302000 N305800

W0960500 W0964000

And can be searched using the LL (latitude and longitude field) as in this example:

LL(n302000 and n305800) and LL(w0960500 and w0964000)

  • Used for (UF)

A synonym or alternative form of the term which may have been used prior to the time the term was adopted. Many of these have now been converted to the current term

  • Broader Term (BT)

A Broader Term refers to a group of which the term is a member or an area or age of which the term represents a part. See example above

  • Narrower Term (NT)

A Narrower Term refers to specific member of a group which is represented by the term or an area or age which is part of a larger area or age represented by the term. Note that the Narrower Terms shown under a term in a Thesaurus entry are only the terms narrower by one hierarchical level, not all the Narrower Terms

  • See Also (SA)

A valid term which is related to the term in some way other than the above relationships. This is displayed in the notes field as per the example below.

  • Subject Categories

One or more of 30 Subject Categories (also called broad disciplines or subject headings) are assigned to each reference for example Geochronology,  Consult the Classification Field to search by category. For Example: Stratigraphy, Geochronology, Igneous and metamorphic petrology.

Look Ups and Browsable Indexes

GeoRef offers four Look ups or browsable indexes, so you can easily find spelling or format variations of, for example, an author's name or a journal title. You can find the Look up links in the advanced search page and they are available for the following searchable fields: author, publication, classification and Subject.  For a description of these fields, please see the searchable fields table to the right. 

Note: Look ups are also available from the Command Line search (through the Look up terms link).

To use and locate a Look up or browsable index, select the field from the advanced search pull-down menu. If a Look up is available, under the search row you will see a link to the Look up. Other Look ups and browsable indexes will be listed in the Limit To section of the advanced search page.

Select the Look up link and then you will see a browsable and alphabetical index for that field. There are some indexes that will not display an alphabetical list before searching for the term, rather you will have to enter a term first, and then the alphabetical list of matches will display.

Once you locate the index term that you would like to add to your search, mark the item, and then click the Add to search button. The index term will now appear in the advanced search form along with the appropriate pull-down menu selection.

Searchable Fields

Field Name


Search Examples & Explanation




Use this field to search a brief summary of the document. Not all GeoRef records will contain a summary.

Where there is an abstract this will have been written in English by GeoRef editorial. The Abstract is included in a basic and advanced search and can also be searched separately using the field drop-down lists as mentioned in the Advanced Search section of the Search Tips tab (item number 1).  

Accession Number


AN(1777469665), AN(2016-028228)

Searches the unique ProQuest Document ID (example 1) or the GeoRef accession number (example 2) for articles and documents.

Author Affiliation



Search by Affiliation.

All Fields



Search in all fields in the citation and abstract



AU(Fivelstad, Jan Egil), AU("Adams, C J"), AU("Fischer, Alfred G")

Use to find documents written by a particular author. Authors can be indexed by last name and first name initials or partial full first names, so we recommend to use the author lookup list in the advanced or command line search template to find all variations of an author's name.



AV(geological survey western australia)

This field contains the name and location of the organization from which the document is available.



CL(“Applied geophysics”), CC(01B: Mineralogy of silicates)

The classification codes and descriptions are broad subject headings that are specific to various databases. Classification Codes are a fast way to precisely target a search by topic, geographical area, or article type.




Is a six character, alphanumeric bibliographic code, that provides concise, unique and unambiguous identification of the titles of serials and non-serial publications from all subject areas.

Collection Title


CE(rock-forming minerals)

This field contains the title of the collection, and can also include the full title and subtitle of the collection, a translation or transliteration of the title, or some other title modification.



CF(chlorinated dioxins and japan)

This field provides the name of the conference and where and when it occurred.

Corporate Author


CA(Company Ensign Geophysics)

Used to search the Corporate/Institutional author.

Country of Publication



Used to search the Country of Publication.

Document Title


TI(water purification)

Locates the occurrence of search words in the title of the article.

Document Feature



Use to find records containing illustrations, tables, maps. These features may or may not be displayed in the record. Use resolver linking to locate full text and the described feature.



ED(Brian, J)

Used to search Scientific coordinator.

Format Covered



This field indicates the medium of the source document when it is not paper, like compact disc, diskette, DVD, microfiche, etc.

Holding Library


HL(geological survey)

This is the location of the document within the Holding Library.




This search field looks for the 12 and 13 digit International Standard Book Number (ISBN), where available. Hyphens are optional.




This search field looks for the eight digit International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), where available. Hyphens are optional.

Latitude & Longitude


LL(n382* OR n383*) AND LL(w1113* or w1114*)

Please note: Though you can use truncation to extend the latitude or longitude value to cover e.g. all minutes within one grade there is no syntax that allows to search for an actual range.
Also be mindful to include leading zeros for lower grade values e.g. ll(n053300 w0001500) for Accra in Ghana.
In addition, be aware that each document may be classified with several coordinates: A document matches your search for specific coordinates if your searched latitude value matches any of the latitudes of the document and your longitude value matches any of the longitude values of the document




This field can only be searched if the database has a thesaurus. The prefix MAINSUBJECT will be added to your search when you select the term from the Thesaurus or if you type the mnemonic. MAINSUBJECT is a way to limit to the subject heading originating from the thesaurus and does not include the use of terms coming from the location index, person index, company index or other classification terms. To search on terms that incorporate all of these subject and index terms, please use the Subject Heading field (SU).



MP(colored surficial geology map)
MP(Scale: 1:24,000)

This field searches the scale and type of map. The map scale contains the scale of the map in the form of a ratio, such as 1:1,000,000, the map type describes the type of map such as colored economic geology map.

Monograph Title


MT(groundwater resources modelling; a case study from the UK)

Use to  locate a specific Monograph.



NT(Prepared in cooperation with the State of Massachusetts and other agencies)

This field contains additional information about the record that cannot be categorized into any other fields for example supplementary data such as other formats available or notes on additional volumes or editions or notes such as the example provided above.

Publication Date



Use to find a specific publication date. Can be searched as:

(YYYYMMDD) = (20091220) ; (YYYY and month) or (month and YYYY) = (2009 and Dec) or (Dec 2009)

The use of <, >, and – are supported to specify before or after a specific date and a date range. E.g. for records with publication dates after 2009, use the following format: PD(>2009).

Publication Language



Search for the language of the original article.

Publication Title


PUB(Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France)

Used to search for a specific publication.

Publication Year



Used to search documents published in a specific year.



PB(Elsevier Science)

Used to retrieve documents from a specific publisher.

Publisher location



Use to limit to the Publisher’s location.

Report Number



Used to locate a report. This field contains a number that identifies a report. Frequently the report number can include a component that identifies a report series.



SP(Deep Sea Drilling Project)

Use this field to search for a sponsor of the research, such as DSDP, Deep Sea Drilling Project or USGSOP, Non-USGS publications with USGS authors.

Subject Heading (all)



Use the subject search field to look for articles about a specific subject. It will retrieve anything to do with the subject keyword being searched. For example, doing a search for the subject heading  of “earthquake”, it would find articles if the subject was habitat,  habitat selection, habitat factors or habitat improvement.

Searching the SU field will also include a search in the single fields Keyword/identifier (IF).

Summary Language



Used to search the summary language in a specific language.




Used to retrieve all records added during a specific database update.




Used to search for the volume of a resource.