I'm fairly new to GIS, and wondering if someone can tell me if there is a difference between WGS 1984 Geographic Coordinate System, Version 2 and WGS 1984 Web Mercator (Auxiliary Sphere)?

Are they just different names for the same exact thing?

Can someone tell me if they have different WKIDs/ ESPG numbers?

  • It's not entirely clear what you're asking, but this may help: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/48949/… . In particular, a lot of online map services use two coordinate system - a projected coordinate system for the map being displayed, and a geographic coordinate system for the numerical coordinates (eg, mouse position, features location). This link explains that issue clearly. Feb 23, 2017 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


I'm trying to figure out what you mean by 'WGS 1984 Geographic Coordinate System, Version 2'. There's no such coordinate reference system (CRS) by that name in Esri software.

Meanwhile, a long time ago in a software not so far away, we added ESRI::102113, "WGS 1984 Web Mercator." The name is unfortunate, because the geographic CRS used was actually a variant of WGS 1984 (EPSG::4326) in that it used a sphere with radius = 6378137.0 m. Its name is "WGS 1983 Major Auxiliary Sphere." This was prior to version 9.3.

People didn't like it because the geographic CRS wasn't the standard WGS84 so there were issues with having to transform from a local GeoCRS to WGS84 and then to the sphere-based WGS84. One nice thing about this definition is that it used the standard Mercator algorithm, with the sphere equations triggered by the GeoCRS.

About the same time, EPSG added a similarly designed projected CRS, EPSG::3785 (sphere-based GeoCRS).

Esri then added a new Mercator algorithm, Mercator (auxiliary sphere), which defaults to using a major aux sphere (radius = semimajor axis) and supports a few other spheres. That enabled Esri to add 102100, which uses the standard WGS84 definition, but a new Mercator algorithm.

Again, about the same time, EPSG deprecated (made obsolete) 3785 in favor of 3857, which again similarly to ESRI::102100, uses the standard WGS84, and a new Mercator algorithm.

Esri then "code-changed" 102100 to 3857 to keep up with the EPSG registry/dataset. Because older servers wouldn't understand 3857, we still often publish services with the older number, 102100.

So, all 4 of these well-known IDs: 3785, 3857, 102113, 102100 will give exactly the same results. If you unproject values from any of them, the results are EPSG::4326.

Note: EPSG randomly assigned WKIDs. They did not try to confuse people by using 3857 as a replacement for 3785. It was just weirdly random.

Disclaimer: I'm an Esri employee and am on the geodesy subcommittee that maintains the EPSG registry, although I was not a member of the subcommittee until after they added 3857.

  • I saw it in the documentation for ArcGIS Pro. I seem to have made a mistake though. What they call WGS 1984 Geographic Coordinate System, Version 2, seems to be a tiling scheme. Feb 23, 2017 at 22:17
  • What I was trying to do was to use a .TPK file to create a scene view in one of their SDKS. And what I found was that the TPKs with the WKID 102100 would work in the scene view, while those with the WKID 4326 would not. Now I see that it makes sense, given your explanation, since one is projected and the other is not. At least that's what I understand here. Feb 23, 2017 at 22:18
  • Oh, okay. That makes sense now. I've never tiled anything so hadn't run across that terminology before.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 23, 2017 at 22:21
  • Yes, I will remember when using their SDKs with TPK files: 4326 for MapView (2D) only. 102100 for SceneView (2D and 3D). Thank you for your help. I will accept your answer. Feb 23, 2017 at 22:23

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