Introduction to Topographic Maps Banner link to home page GeoSTAC Link to Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University
by Jim Riesterer . . . . . . . . . . Edited by Scott Hughes, Dan Narsavage & Diana Boyack

Topographic Maps Tutorial

Introduction & Materials
What is a Map?
Using Topo Maps
Map Scale
Reference Datum
Map Projections
Grid Systems
State Plane
Public Land Survey
Vertical Scale
Creating Profiles
Vertical Exaggeration
Calculating Slope
Using a Compass
Magnetic Declination
Get a Bearing
Go from A to B
Find Self on a Map

Topographic Maps Field Exercises

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4

GeoSTAC Home

Field Exercises
April 7, 2008

Using a Compass with a Map

Pictured below are two different types of compasses. The compass at left is a Brunton compass used by geologists and others for many specialized mapping purposes. On the right is a more common type of compass used for general orienteering and some mapping purposes.


Compass Image


The features of a compass that you need to understand are found on both types of compass (and most others as well). This section will give an overview of how to use a compass with a topographic map to locate yourself on the map and how to get from one point on the map to another.

Continue to ... Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) ...