Fix/flatten multiple layers within a .shp

Discussion created by mulligrp on Feb 1, 2012
Latest reply on Feb 15, 2012 by mulligrp
Hi I'm reaching out in hopes that someone might have made the same mistake I have -- I'm making a geological map of an area, but because of a lack of familiarity with a lot of the tools within ArcMap, I used an Illustrator-based program to draw all the shapes and lines, then imported into arc. That process went very smoothly and currently my map looks the way it should. The problem is, when i was drawing it, I basically stacked shapes on top of one another, so if you query certain polygons, multiple features will be selected. (Imagine drawing a target: mine would be composed of three concentric circles and if you tried to query the bulls-eye, the values for all the circles would appear. What i need to do is flatten, or extract only the uppermost or visible information, such that my 'target' would be composed of a small red bullseye circle surrounded by concentric rings, all within a single layer.

Converting to raster doesn't work because Arc just digitizes whatever information it comes across first, and i thought about trying to select by attribute to isolate the various geologic units, then bring them back in, but again i have problems with the overlap of the polygons. I spoke with the  local GIS expert and he just shook his head and said i should've done it as a geodatabase, but before i give up and re-draw everything, i was hoping (praying?) someone might have some ideas!

Thanks in advance,