Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2011, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (5): 771-790.doi: 10.1007/s11442-011-0879-9

• Physical Geography •     Next Articles

Structure and contents of layered classification system of digital geomorphology for China

CHENG Weiming, ZHOU Chenghu, LI Bingyuan, SHEN Yuancun, ZHANG Baiping   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information Systems, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2011-01-20 Revised:2011-04-10 Online:2011-10-15 Published:2011-10-03
  • Contact: Zhou Chenghu, Ph.D and Professor, E-mail:
  • About author:Cheng Weiming (1973–), Ph.D and Associate Professor, specialized in information extraction and mapping of digital geomorphology. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    Key Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40871177; No.40830529; No.40971063


This paper presents the structure and contents of a standardized layered classification system of digital geomorphology for China. This digital classification method combines landforms characteristics of morphology with genesis. A total of 15 categories of exogenic and endogenic forces are divided into two broad categories: morpho-genetic and morpho-structural landforms. Polygon patches are used to manage the morpho-genetic types, and solitary points, lines and polygons are used to manage the morpho-structural types. The classification method of digital morpho-genetic types can be divided into seven layers, i.e. basic morphology and altitude, genesis, sub-genesis, morphology, micro-morphology, slope and aspect, material and lithology. The method proposes combinations of matrix forms based on layered indicators. The attributes of every landform types are obtained from all or some of the seven layers. For the 15 forces categories, some classification indicators and calculation methods are presented for the basic morphology, the morphologic and sub-morphologic landforms of the morpho-genetic types. The solitary polygon, linear and point types of morpho-structural landforms are presented respectively. The layered classification method can meet the demands of scale-span geomorphologic mapping for the national primary scales from 1:500,000 to 1:1,000,000. The layers serve as classification indicators, and therefore can be added and reduced according to mapping demands, providing flexible expandability.

Key words: digital geomorphology, classification system, morpho-genesis, morpho-structure, layered classification method