Introduction to Topographic Maps Banner GeoSTAC Home Page Department of Geosciences ISU
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 8, 2008

Exercise One

Purpose: Become familiar with all of the parts of your map and the information contained in your map.

For this exercise, if you have not done so already, obtain a 1:24,000 scale map of an area near where you live or where you would like to do field exercises. Topographic maps can be obtained at your local BLM or Forest Service office, as well as through the U.S. Geological Survey. If possible, choose a map that has a fair amount of topographic relief and variability, as it will enable you to get more out of later exercises. Once you have obtained a map, answer the following questions.

* What is the name of your quadrangle?
* What are the names of the adjacent quadrangles? (You should have eight of them)
* When was your quadrangle first made into a topographic map?
* Has it been revised?
* What datum was used to create your map?
* What is the contour interval on your map?
* Are there supplemental contours?
* What are the geographic coordinates (i.e., latitude and longitude) of the upper left-hand corner of your map?
* What are the (UTM coordinates) of the lower right hand corner of your map?
* What is the UTM zone in which you are located?
* Pick a prominent named feature on your map and give its coordinates in PLS coordinates. Be sure to include the name of the feature (such as Cedar Butte, Rocky Point, etc.)
* How many different types of roads are there in your map area?
* What is the highest point in your map area?
* What is the lowest point?
* What is the total relief?

What you will be required to do to complete this exercise:
Read and work through the entire companion tutorial, using links to visit more extensive explanations. Throughout the exercise, questions will be posed and answered. You will maximize what you get out of the tutorial if you work through the questions yourself before reading the answer, but you are not required to turn in your results.

At the end of the on-line tutorial there are a series of questions in the all-important "Field Exercises" using topographic maps. You will need to complete all of these exercises, answer the associated questions, and turn in your results.


Continue to . . . Exercise Two . . .