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2009-02-19 21:33:26
Context of comment:Feeling isolated?
Well different summits have different isolations. You can see one form of the figures for Irish summits here: http://www.mountainviews.ie/mv/irl150list.php (Click on Isolation or you can sort on it)

Message:I was asked to define this recently, so for anyone that is interested here is some background information.

The Isolation figure in this listing is simply the distance from a summit to the next nearest in the MountainViews list of any height. Since inclusion in the list is not strictly controlled, isolation isn't either. Distance is computed using the national grid. The prominence figure is one we have been playing with but haven't as yet included in the 7 main list types that MV supports - haven't had much feedback as yet. It gives an idea of what is the most isolated peak which is interesting from the point of view of the quality of remoteness it may have. It is also useful when planning trips. A high isolation is likely to mean a longish journey to summit just one peak. Currently Croghan Hill (234m) in the North Midlands area at N482 332 is 31.9k from any other summit on the list which is the highest isolation.

Isolation has been proposed as a way of constructing lists. The usual form of this seen in connection with mountain summits is usually termed "Topographic Isolation" and is the distance from a summit to the nearest higher ground (great circle)
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topographic_isolation
This is further described in http://www.peaklist.org/theory/orometry/article/Orometry_9.html As defined this way it is hard to compute automatically unless you have access to a DEM (digital elevation model) of the area to be considered. The definition here http://www.13ers.com/Info1.html or here http://www.bivouac.com/PgxPg.asp?PgxId=280/ is easier since it is the distance from a summit to the nearest higher summit.
It should be possible to do this relatively easily with MV data. From this it would be possible to create an isolation hierarchy. If you wanted to be really pedantic you would have to get into both using great circle (relatively easy) and defining your datum which raises some interesting issues. If say WGS84 is used then all the summits are over 50m higher in Ireland then the usual "above sea-level" which might make a difference to relative heights within Ireland and almost certainly would if you considered summits in the rest of Europe or the world.
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