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Public-images-osm logo.svg surface = gravel
Osm element tag.svg
This tag has very large meaning range. Used for cases ranging from huge gravel pieces like track ballast used as surface, through small pieces of gravel to compacted surface. Edit or translate this description.
Group: Properties
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Status: in use


Tag history

Case where surface=gravel matches definition that was present at Key:surface for a long time

For long time this tag was described at Key:surface page as "Broken/crushed rock with sharp edges, known as ballast on railways. Usually loosely arranged. Typical size for road and surface construction range between 4 and 8 cm".

Note that in Australia some roads are having surface qualifying for surface=compacted But referred to and signed as "gravel road". "compacted" continues to be a correct value here but surface=gravel is overwhelmingly used in actual tagging as of early 2021.
Small loose gravel surface, for such case surface=gravel was also used. It is useful to distinguish it from both well compacted surface and from big chunks of ballast

But "gravel roads" term is often used in many countries for something where far smaller pieces of rock are used, some of such roads would qualify for surface=compacted.

As result surface=gravel may refer to road where track ballast from old railway (or crushed stone similar to track ballast) was used, making it tricky or impassable for regular cars and bicycles.

It may also refer to roads of compacted surface that are unpaved but high quality roads, often allowing comfortable travel.

surface=fine_gravel, surface=rock, surface=pebblestone, surface=compacted are closely related but different surface values.

surface=cobblestone is suffering from very similar problem (solved by establishing more clear surface=sett and surface=unhewn_cobblestone).

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