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In GIS, the erase function is an analytical process in which the output feature class is created by copying the portions of the input features that lie outside the boundaries of the erase features.[1] In other words, the Erase tool is used to perform overlay analysis on feature classes. This tool creates a feature class from those features or portions of features outside the erase feature class. The spatial data of the input layer that intersects the erase layer is excluded from the final output layer. A polygon feature can be used to erase other polygons, lines, or points.


In Figure 1 below, the function of the Erase tool is illustrated:[1]

Figure 1

The erase function performs the opposite task the clip function performs.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 ArcGIS 10 Help: Erase (Analysis). ESRI. Accessed 7 Septemeber 2011.
  2. ArcMap Erase Tool - Video Tutorial. 31 March, 2009, GIS Pathway. Accessed 7 September, 2011.