In geological data collection, different surveying and observations are made in regard to the Earth's crust. Previously, data compiled by different means were accumulated as archives as printed maps, forms, reports and so on. A significant part of this old printed material has been included in online distribution by scanning them into files. Currently, information is stored directly in digital format and it is managed in different data systems from which information is mainly shared as different digital information products. Using them usually requires GIS software or at least a viewer intended for browsing such files. The meta data file (the "product specification") is a key part of information products. The file informs how the information has been created and for what and how it can be used.
Material distributed as files or in printed format may also be available for viewing in map interfaces of different themes. Active Map Explorer is an example of this. It is a service which includes airborne geophysical measurement data and is intended for the mining industry. In many cases, a map interface is the only option for browsing material.