I have been trying to create an empty SpatialPoints in R but have not found the way yet.

I have tried with this formula:

SpatialPoints(as.matrix(data.table(x = numeric(), y = numeric())))

But it didn't work. The closest thing I have found on the internet is Creating empty Polygons or SpatialPolygons in R? but that is for polygons and apparently it does not work the same way.

I have sp version 1.2.7

  • You should think about why you want to create this. If its to put in a for loop to incrementally add points to, you might be better off using an apply-type operation and then combining the results in the end - this is usually faster than growing a vector from an empty object.
    – Spacedman
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


Create a SpatialPoints object with one row in it, and then drop it with [-1,]:

> zero = SpatialPoints(data.frame(x = 0, y = 0))[-1,]
> zero
     x y
Coordinate Reference System (CRS) arguments: NA 

Quick test to see what this thing is:

> length(zero)
[1] 0
> class(zero)
[1] "SpatialPoints"
[1] "sp"

Maybe there is a shorter way ...

    coords = structure(numeric(0), .Dim = c(0L, 2L),                          
                       .Dimnames = list(NULL, c("coords.x1", "coords.x2"))),  
    bbox = structure(c(1, 1, 1, 1), .Dim = c(2L, 2L),                         
                     .Dimnames = list(c("coords.x1", "coords.x2"),
                                      c("min", "max"))),
    proj4string = new("CRS", projargs = NA_character_)) 
# SpatialPoints:
#      coords.x1 coords.x2
# Coordinate Reference System (CRS) arguments: NA 

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