I have been trying to work out a query that returns the geometry of points that are unique (eg. not supliacte). Is there a simple way to perform it in just one query? geom is the only common attribute between the tables. My tables are rather big, about 50000 rows in each.

I need the opposite return to this query:

SELECT point1.geom, point2.geom
FROM schema.point1 AS fkb2012 , schema.point2
WHERE ST_Equals(point1.geom, point2.geom) ;

2 Answers 2


I would join both tables in one and then keep only unique rows. If executing your query within PostGIS:

WITH temptable AS (
  SELECT geom FROM schema.point1
  SELECT geom FROM schema.point2

FROM temptable
HAVING count(*) = 1 ;
  • 1
    Um, won't your CTE throw out any unique points? I.e. if a point is in point1 but not point2, the ST_equals will get rid of it...
    – mlinth
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 13:57
  • You are right, I've modified the suggested query.
    – wiltomap
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 14:00
  • Saves me posting exactly that code then ;-)
    – mlinth
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 14:02
  • 1
    It's important to realize that any use of UNION ALL, GROUP BY, or the = operator works by bounding box equality only. PostGIS bounding boxes are single-precision floating point, so nearby points will be considered equal. For example: WITH test AS (SELECT unnest(ARRAY[ST_MakePoint(0,1.000001), ST_MakePoint(0,1.000002)]) AS geom) SELECT geom, count(*) FROM test GROUP BY geom returns only a single row.
    – dbaston
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 14:44
  • 1
    I have quite few points that are close (down to cm) sometimes these points return only as a single row as you said correctly. It results in a discrepancy of about 600 points which is OK in my case, but might be something to look up for to others. Cheers
    – geogrow
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 11:56

I think this will work, it might (or might not) be quicker than the union query way. Make sure you have indexes on your geom columns!

SELECT COALESCE(a.geom,b.geom) AS geom
schema.point1 a
schema.point2 b
ON a.geom = b.geom
WHERE a.geom IS NULL or b.geom IS NULL
  • I tried the query, it gave me an error COALESCE could not convert type point1 to point 2. Might have something to do with the lack of Z value perhaps as mentioned in my other comment. Will have a look and try sort it out. Thanks!
    – geogrow
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 14:30
  • I'd guess that that would be the reason. I don't know if you can cast one to another.
    – mlinth
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 19:10

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