[Tagging] surface=rock

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Sat Nov 21 20:07:38 UTC 2020

My understanding about this is that there is a difference between British
English usage and American usage - especially in the western USA.

The English seem to have an idea that "rock" is for mostly solid, immobile
"bedrock", while a "stone" is a mobile, separate piece of mineral which you
might pick up if you are strong enough, or at least move with a piece of
heavy machinery. Hence the distinction between natural=stone and
natural=bare_rock in the wiki, and the different definitions in the OED

Rock: The solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth
and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or
oceans - https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/rock - example "‘the beds of
rock are slightly tilted’"

Rock: "the dry solid part of earth's surface, or any large piece of this
that sticks up out of the ground or the sea"

Stone: https://www.lexico.com/definition/stone - "Hard solid non-metallic
mineral matter ... especially as a building material. ‘the houses are built
of stone’" and especially the next definition: 1.2 count noun "A small
piece of rock found on the ground."

Stone: "the hard, solid substance found in the ground that is often used
for building, or a piece of this" -

But American English and perhaps other dialects do not always maintain this
distinction, in my experience.

So in theory surface=stones would be best when there are large separate
stones, similar to surface=cobblestone or surface=scree(?), while
surface=bare_rock or surface=rock would suggest mostly solid bedrock, if
these tags are actually going to be used in different ways based on British
English. But it is unlikely that most mappers will understand the

-- Joseph Eisenberg

On Sat, Nov 21, 2020 at 11:25 AM Mateusz Konieczny via Tagging <
tagging at openstreetmap.org> wrote:

> Nov 21, 2020, 17:43 by osm at westnordost.de:
> rock „pieces“ would be tagged as „stone“ I guess?
> Not so sure about that, then it would be surface=stones, (note the plural)
> wouldn't it?
> I am completely fine with both versions.
> I created today https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:surface%3Drock
> where I described surface=rock as fitting for them - but feel free to
> change this
> - Rock implies a rough naturalness
> +1
> - Steps made of large (single-piece) hewn stone columns would be called
> 'stone steps'
> so surface=stone (surface=stones) would be more fitting for them?
> - Bare [rock] implies the lack of rubble on top
> Small amount: yes
> Complete lack of it: no.
> See for example
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krywan_podejscie.jpg
> Especially for easily eroding rock that is breaking piece by piece some
> rubble will be always
> present.
> - Scree is specially loose
> +1
> - Personally I think bare_rock and stone are synonyms here, unless someone
> thinks there's a difference.
> Yes, even if we would invent some differences none would be present in de
> facto usage
> (different areas with different differences and subtle distinctions)
> rock = rough natural stone, could be loose stones too
> stone = smooth stone / bare rock, could be hewn
> bare_rock = probably similar to stone, definitely no loose stones
> scree = surface like (large) gravel, natural
> rocky = scree is rocky, piles of differently sized rocks are rocky
> Overall I think that I am fine with surface=rock, but I am not opposed to
> also other
> values (though I am not going to make proposals or wiki pages for them)
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