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 7, 2008

Exercise Four

Purpose: Look at an area of your map in detail to see if there is any relationship between slope aspect (north facing, west facing, etc.), general vegetation type (you don't need to know specific plant names, just generalities such as trees, sagebrush, grass, etc.), altitude, and topography (steep slopes, gentle slopes, etc.).

The first step in this exercise will be to create three topographic profiles (different than the ones used in exercise 2). In order to maximize the results of this exercise, orient at least two of the profiles at approximately right angles to one another across ridges oriented in different directions (they may be in different areas of the map). Try to choose areas that have significant topographic relief (from one valley to another across a significant ridge, or across large hill or mountain) and variations in slope angle (some steep, some gentle). If your map does not contain two ridges oriented in different directions, draw your profiles parallel to one another but far apart and in areas of differing relief and slope angle. Your profile should be no less than one mile long but it may be longer; it should be long enough to demonstrate the total topographic variation in the area.

Record the starting and ending points of your profile using UTM and geographic coordinates.

Once again, walk your topographic profiles. Note on your map any changes in vegetation type as you encounter them (grass to sage, sage to trees, etc.). If you have a knowledge of general rock types, note these changes as well (volcanic to sedimentary, sandstone to limestone, etc.).

After you have done this for both lines, transfer the vegetation data (and rock data if you have it) to your profiles.

Write up your results. Include your observations about the influence (if you observe any) of: slope aspect on vegetation, elevation on vegetation, vegetation on slope angle, slope aspect on slope angle, and elevation on slope angle. If you have data on changes in rock type, include your observations on its influence over the other factors as well.


This is the end of the Topographic maps tutorial and exercises.


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