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I have a series of maps representing a 1000m diameter around a point. These maps contain 40 different types of polygons that represent a land use (ex. Corn crop, Pasture).

I want to select all polygons that are within the 1000m boundary and find out each of their areas.

I've attempted to create unions and delete the exterior polygons, but I'm only limited to performing a union on 2 features which would make that task very tedious. Is there a faster and simpler way of performing this task?

My goal is to create an attbiute table, that will have a unique identifer for each polygon and then a column with the SHAPE_AREA that I can export to excel.

I created the maps using ArcGIS, I have access to all licenses and other GIS programs. All polygons are shapefiles, including the boundary circles.

  • can you describe your problem with drawings if possible , and the software used ?
    – geogeek
    Nov 7, 2013 at 14:31
  • I used ArcMap to create the images. I've attached a drawing to the question now. Thanks
    – JC11
    Nov 7, 2013 at 14:34
  • 2
    What about intersect? This will create a new feature class, which if in a gdb, will have a shape field.
    – Barbarossa
    Nov 7, 2013 at 15:26
  • 3
    It sounds like you have several options here: 1. You can clip the LU .shp by the 1000m.shp(was this derived from a buffer?) and then create an area field and use the calculate geometry to calculate the area of each polygon in the attribute table. 2. You could also use the Select by Location tool(Although I wouldnt suggest it) and specify to select all areas of the LU.shp that are within 1000m of the point.shp. Again creating an area field and calculating geometry. I would Suggest the clip method its simple and effective. Nov 7, 2013 at 15:44
  • Intersect will allow multiple input features so you won't have to run on every pair. In features: A list of the input feature classes or layers (resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//…).
    – toms
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


Stated in the comments.
You want to use the intersect command.
possibly the summarize command
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And then depending on the use case perhaps
Join the two output (at separate times) back to the original and calculate some of the generated data into some existing or new fields.

  • This method will do the task I want. Although it keeps generating empty outputs which stems from a datum conflict, which is a different problem. Thank you Brad.
    – JC11
    Nov 7, 2013 at 20:17

I would not recommend using Intersect or Union tool here as it is an overkill. If you want areas of polygons clipped by the polygon of interest, then the Clip tool would be the fastest way. Otherwise, use the Select by location tool with the option Within, and your polygon of interest as the "by" layer.

  • Can you explain why Intersect/Union would be overkill? Is it purely from a speed perspective?
    – Paul
    Nov 7, 2013 at 18:29
  • then you will not be able to do "polygons that are within the 1000m boundary and find out each of their areas"
    – Brad Nesom
    Nov 7, 2013 at 18:47
  • @Paul Yes, from the speed. Those commands would build a full overlay map, which is not needed in that case.
    – 0kcats
    Nov 7, 2013 at 21:28

I've determined the best possible route for my question.

I create a new field in the attribute table for each shapefile called "LandUse". I designated a number for each LandUse (I.e. Corn = 3)

I used the 'Merge' tool on all the LandUse shapefiles. Now I can use the Clip tool to determine Land Uses within different sized boundaries including 1000m (Boundaries as the 'clip features').

I use the field calculator in the Attribute table of the newly clipped shapefile to determine area and the summarize option to create a table of areas for each boundary)

Thanks everyone for your answers, they were all helpful!

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