Working on the two UTM zone boundary

We often have the problem of working in the limits of the UTM zone, and we see ourselves as sticks because the coordinates there do not work.

Because the problem

I explained some time ago How the UTM coordinates work, here I'm just going to focus on the problem. The following graph shows how between Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua there is a change between the 16 and 17 zones; which implies that those coordinates marked in white circles are repeated. A point taken in the Honduran La Mosquitia, if it is not said to be in the 17 zone, would fall in Guatemala in the 16 zone, while the one in the Nicaraguan Atlantic coast would fall in the Pacific Ocean, just as it would happen with one in the Island of Caño in Costa Rica.

Work in different zones utm

This is because the UTM grid takes a central meridian, with an x ​​coordinate of 500,000 and from there it continues until reaching the zone limit. In this way they will never be negative. But as a consequence, the coordinates are not unique, they are repeated in each zone and in each hemisphere.

How to solve it

I'm going to use this example using Microstation Geographics now Bentley Map, it should be similar to AutoCAD: I want to georeference an image, having the four coordinates of its corners. In UTM it is impossible, because when entering points, two will fall in Guatemala.

1 Convert UTM coordinates to geographical coordinates. This can be done with any program that goes there, before I presented a sheet Excel that does these times. As a result we will have this:


2 Change the coordinate system in Microstation. This is so that we can enter the points in that format.

Work in different zones utmIt is made with: Tools> coordinate systems> master

Here we select the first icon (Edit master) and we indicate that the coordinate system is geographic. Always keeping the Datum WGS84.

Then we select from this panel the option Master and we keep. The system will ask us some questions, to make sure we know what it implies, we accept all three times. From now on, we can enter the coordinates in latitude / longitude.

Work in different zones utm3. Enter the coordinates. This, for being few points is done via keyin; activating the command point, then from the keyin we write:

Xy = -85.1419,16.2190

Work in different zones utmWe do the same for others:

  • Xy = -83.0558,16.1965, enter
  • Xy = -83.0786,14.2661, enter
  • Xy = -85.1649,14.2885, enter

If you do not want to break the coconut you can save them in a txt and import them with the command that is Done for that.

Georeferencing the image.

Work in different zones utmThe result of entering the points is there, on both sides of the boundary of the zone.

The only thing we do now is load the image. This is done from the raster manager, indicating that the image will be loaded interactively and indicate the top left point and then the bottom right.

There they have it:

Work in different zones utm

What about the plots:

Something similar would happen with the properties that are divided by the zone limit; what is done is that the vertices are converted to geographical areas to have a single deployment. An ideal is in that area to lift points by configuring GPS to capture geographic coordinates.

17 Replies to "How to work in the limit of two UTM zones"

  1. I'm not sure I understand what you're occupying.
    If it falls between two zones you would have to rethink it using geographic coordinates, latitude / longitude type.
    How do you originally have them?


  3. One option is that you send them to Google Earth and there you check it by activating the degree grid. Greetings to the land of lakes and volcanoes; when we pass there we eat a roast.

  4. I have the following problem
    I have coordinates in XY format, some of these fall in the 16 ZONE but I suspect that others fall in the 17 ZONE, how can I know which ZONE they are from?

  5. I have points in wgs84 zone 17N and I want to show them in a shape of the whole country that is in wgs 84 zone 17 South, when doing project in arcgis 10.2 I get error, thanks for your help

  6. His excellent technical pedagogy, I hope to continue learning this knowledge and then execute through their programs. I will send the necessary consultation and in advance I wish you success is your high technology applied to Geodesy and Topography.

  7. That is inevitable.
    You can change the false east, so that the central meridian is in a length that allows you to have everything in the same strip. With the disadvantage that your coordinates change.
    The other way is to work in latitudes and longitudes.

  8. Friend I am working in Arcgis 9.3, you know how I could change to only one area.

    thank you very much for your help

  9. Hello friend, could you help me, I have shape information from my study area in two different areas 17S and 18S, they are in the same WGS84 reference system. This makes the information present a displacement because of being in different areas and I need them to be only in 18S.

    Congratulations on your blog


  10. Old good your blog, but so much publicity everyone is scared, it seems that you are desperate, I know that you are not going to approve me, before it was quality, but the bills changed the conception of your «work».

  11. I dont know. It would be necessary to prove, the images can carry their own projections, but when creating a new deployment map it can be in geographical coordinates and therefore should be reprojected on the fly.

  12. And in Manifold, how can two orthophotos (from the PNOA, UTM) be combined with a different spindle?
    Thank you

  13. Hi, the truth is that the explanation is very good, but I would like you to write an article about how you work in an overlapping area.

    The problem I have is that my country BOLIVIA is in three spindle 19, 20 and 21 and I have coordinates, most of these are in the spindle 19, but part of it enters the spindle 20 (zone of overlap).

    What I want to ask is to have to work on both spindles or only on a single spindle.

    In advance thanks for your collaboration and the truth that the page is great, go ahead and again thanks for your collaboration.

  14. I guess you talk about data without a georeference. Likewise, you assign them a reference point and move them, those that fall in the other zone transform them to latitudes and longitudes.

  15. This is a good way to work, BUT THERE IS A DETAIL, as you adjust the overlap points when you have done it with electronic theodolite

  16. This is a good way to work, BUT THERE IS A DETAIL, as you adjust the overlap points when you have done it with electronic theodolite

  17. That such a friend congratulated him on his blog, few people in this universe share part of their time in support of the collective in the different applications of surveying and civil engineering, and I have been following the issues you spread through this medium for a few months , part of them have served me as tools for a short time, since in labor matters I find myself as a cadist and as my particular independent aspect I have a total station SOKKIA 630RK, and although due to my labor wage it prevents me from dedicating myself to the topography always I am looking for topics that keep me updated on all the cartography and civil engineering products, good for not extending myself I say goodbye.

    Atte: Emerson Marin
    Venezuela, Anaco Edo. Anzoategui.

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