Using Topographic Maps

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1 Using Topographic Maps Procedure This lab has three parts: (1) Making a contour map of Turtle Island, an imaginary island with known spot elevations, (2) constructing a topographic profile across Turtle Island, and (3) examining some published quadrangle maps and answering questions about them. Materials and Preparation You will need a pencil (with an eraser) and a calculator. Graph paper for your cross-section will be provided to you. Making a Contour Map of Turtle Island A map of Turtle Island on a following page shows spot elevations (in meters) representing ground level. The zero points are water, so make sure to keep your islands shoreline above the zero elevation. Keeping the Rules of Contour Lines in mind, draw in and label the contours using a contour interval of 10 meters. Making a Topographic Profile Topographic profiles are scaled drawings depicting the elevation of the land surface along some particular line. Figure 1-10 from the background reading, for example, is a topographic profile that runs EW through the campus of Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. A drumlin (a glacial landform that appears as a streamlined hill) is bisected by the profile line. If the vertical scale of the profile is the same as that of the map, the profile has no vertical exaggeration. Often, however, it is advantageous to use a scale that stretches or exaggerates the vertical dimension in order to emphasize topographic features. Figure 2 shows both an unexaggerated and an exaggerated profile. The vertical exaggeration can be calculated from the vertical and horizontal scales. If the horizontal scale is 1:1000 and the vertical scale is 1:50, then the vertical exaggeration is 20X Vertical _ Scale 1/ 50 VerticalEx aggeration 20X Horizontal _ Scale 1/1000 After you have made your contour map of Turtle Island, follow the instructions below to make a topographic profile of the A-A section line marked on your Turtle Island map. We will also go over this in detail in Lab. Be sure to ask questions so that you understand what it is we are doing. To review: 1. Lay a piece of scrap paper along the line of section. Mark the two ends of the section line. 2. At each point where a contour line crosses the section, make a small mark on you scrap paper and label it with the elevation of the contour line. 3. Lay your scrap paper along the horizontal axis of the topographic profile. Transfer your contour intersection points and elevations to this axis. 4. Using the contour value, plot a point at the correct elevation above each of your horizontal axis marks, then connect these points with a smooth line to create the profile. Plot your section on the topographic profile grid. Use the horizontal and vertical scales of this grid to calculate the vertical exaggeration of this profile.

2 Quadrangle Maps You have been provided with several different quadrangle maps. View the map at your table, paying particular attention to the different symbology and landscapes. Answer the following questions based on the maps available to you and your group. Map 1: Lopez Point 7.5 minute quad, California 1. What is the ratio scale for this particular map? 2. Estimate the north-south and east-west dimension (true length) of this quadrangle in kilometers.. Calculate its area in square kilometers. 3. Draw the north arrows at the bottom of the map below. Label the magnetic and true north arrows. 4. What is the magnetic declination of this area? Does a compass needle point east or west of true north? 5. What is the contour interval on this map (the difference between individual contour lines)? Include units. What is the reference contour interval (distance between darker contour lines)? Include units. 6. To figure out which way a stream (blue line) flows, look for the V of the contour line. The point of the V points uphill. Why? 7. Name one of the rivers/streams located within your map s area. Which way is this stream flowing, by compass direction within a given township? Be specific. Name a labeled landmark near where you are identifying the stream direction, or give latitude and longitude of the location below.

3 Now, using an overhad pen, outline this stream s watershed. A watershed is the drainage area of the stream. If a drop of water falls within the watershed, it will eventually flow into the stream (if it doesn t evaporate or get taken up by a plant, that is). Do this by outlining the high points (ridge lines) between two streams. Before you move on, have your teacher check your work and initial here: Teacher initials. 8. The term relief is used to describe the difference between the highest and lowest elevations in an area. What is the total relief in the quadrangle? Not all topographic lines are labeled with elevation, as you can see. Look carefully around what you think is the highest point to find either a closed circle/oval for a mountain peak, or an X with an elevation number, as well as at the edges of the map. Show calculations and give units for your answer. 9. What do the small black (or purple) polygon symbols represent? 10. Are there any roads on your map? Use the laminated hanout at your table showing map symbols. Draw one of the road types you see on your map, and give the description of this type of road from the key. 11. Draw a topographic profile from the ocean directly east, as far as your graph paper will go. Give the starting latitude and longitude of your profile on the graph paper. Use the vertical exaggeration your teacher specifies on the board for your profile. 12. Imagine you are standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and looking away from the water on this map. Specify a location like this, and describe both where you are on the map, AND what you see. Use complete sentences or a labeled drawing. Now, go to Google Earth and look at the terrain of this location using satellite imagery. Compare what you thought the terrain looked like (based on the topographic map) to that of the imagery on Google Earth. How do these differ?

4 Map 2: Brainerd, 7.5 minute quadrangle, Minnesota 13. What is the year for the topographic map? 14. What is the magnetic declination for this map? 15. What are the blue hash maked symbols showing? What does the background color under these symbols indicate? 16. Which direction is Buffalo creek flowing? How do you know this? Explain in words and with a simple, labeled drawing. 17. What is the relief on this map (Show work. Give units.)? 18. If you drew a topographic profile of this map, how would it differ fromt hat of the Lopez Point map? Explain your reasoning: 19. Which quadrangle looks to be more populated, based on the information on the map: Lopez Point or Brainerd, MN? Explain your reasoning below: 20. How would you describe the terrain on this map? Pick a specific area on the map, describe this location, and be as specific and descriptive as possible in your physical description based on map features. What do you think you d see if you were standing in this area? Use complete sentences or a labeled drawing.

5 Now go to Google Earth and compare your inferences to the imagery provided for Brainerd, MN. How close were you? Be specific in your explanation. Map 3: 15 minute quadrangle, Snoqualmie Pass, WA 1. Older topographic maps were issued in the 15 minute format. a. What is the ratio scale for this map? b. Is the 15 minute quadrangle map larger or smaller scale than the maps you looked at previously? Explain your answer below. 2. Describe the color patterns on this map. What is the dominant color, and what do the uncolored areas represent? 3. Describe the terrain on this map compared to the Lopez Point and Brainerd maps you looked at earlier. How does this terrain differ in relief from each? What similar features do you see? What differences do you see?

6 4. Describe what you might see if you were to stand on top of Cikamin Peak and look toward Lemah mountain. What kind of topography would you see. If you were there in the summer, do you think you would see any snow or ice? How would you describe this place to someone who was thinking of hiking there? Would it be hard or easy to walk to the top of Chikamin peak or Lemah mountain? Why? 5. Now go to Google Earth and compare your inferences from the terrain to what you see on the satellite imagery. What new things did you discover about this location that you were not able to see on the map? What information does that map provide that the imagery does not?

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