I have two SpatialPolygonsDataFrames. One is the LSOA shapefile of Great Britain (i.e., Great Britain divided into ~41,000 regions with approximately equal population densities), the other is a bunch of regions in Great Britain (coal fields). I want to add the coal field info to the LSOA object, in order to have a variable added to the LSOA object that tells me whether an LSOA region falls into a coal field or not.

I got the shapefiles from here:

This is how I attempted to do the merge:

# read in LSOA regions
LSOA <- readOGR(dsn = "Infuse", layer = "infuse_lsoa_lyr_2011")
# transform map to OSGB projection
bng = '+proj=tmerc +lat_0=49 +lon_0=-2 +k=0.9996012717 +x_0=400000 +y_0=-100000 +ellps=airy +datum=OSGB36 +units=m +no_defs'
LSOA.bng <- spTransform(LSOA,bng)

# read in coalmining regions:
coalmine <- readOGR(dsn = "coalmining_shapefiles", layer = "Coalfield_polygon")
# transform map to OSGB projection
coalmine.bng <- spTransform(coalmine,bng)

# merge data
coalmines.LSOA.over <- over(LSOA.bng, coalmine.bng)
LSOA.coalmines <- spCbind(LSOA.bng,coalmines.LSOA.over)

This is the error message I get after the spCbind command:

Error in spCbind(LSOA.bng, coalmines.LSOA.over) : row names not identical

What did I do wrong?

  • 1
    as over's result comes out ordered you don't need to merge/join; just add it as another column to your LSOA.bng
    – Elio Diaz
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:17
  • How do I do that?
    – Abdel
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:26
  • 1
    lsoa.bng$var <- coalmines.lsoa.over$your_target_variable
    – Elio Diaz
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:32
  • Thank you very much! If you post it as an answer, I can accept it as the right answer and give you your credits :)
    – Abdel
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:53
  • Ok, I appreciate that
    – Elio Diaz
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


As the output of sp::over is ordered to the input, you don't need to join/merge the two objects; you only need to add the targeted (or desired) columns from the output of over to your data frame.

Using base r, you define a new variable of your data frame with the $ operator, then you assign the output of over to it:

lsoa.bng$var <- coalmines.lsoa.over$your_target_variable

if it doesn't match a name already in your df, you may also cbind it:

lsoa.bng <- cbind(lsoa.bng, coalmines.lsoa.over$your_target_variable)

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