Contour Lines Contour lines are lines drawn on a map that connect points of equal elevation. If you walk along a contour line you neither gain or lose elevation. Picture walking along a beach exactly where the water
meets the land (ignoring tides and waves for this example). The water surface marks an elevation we call sea level, or zero. As you walk along the shore your elevation will remain the same, you will be following a contour line.
If you stray from the shoreline and start walking into the ocean, the elevation of the ground (in this case the seafloor) is below sea level. If you walk in the other direction and walk up the beach your elevation will be above sea level.
Above Sea Level Sea Level Below Sea Level
Why are contour lines useful? Contour lines are useful because they allow us to show the shape of the land surface (topography) on a map. Sea Level
Rising Water Contour Lines What is this?
CONTOUR MAP 10 characteristics of contour lines 1. Contour lines are continuous. 2. Contour lines do not cross each other- but there are 2
exceptions 3. A series of V-shape indicates a valley and the Vs point to higher elevation. characteristics of contour lines cont. 4. A series U shape indicates a ridge. The U shapes will
point to lower elevation. 5. Evenly spaced lines indicate an area of uniform slope. 6. A series of closed contours with increasing elevation indicates a hill and a series of closed contours with decreasing elevation indicates a depression. characteristics of contour lines cont.
7. Closed contours may be identified with a +, hill, or -, depression. 8. Closed contours may include hachure marks. Hachure marks are short lines perpendicular to the contour line. They point to lower elevation. 9. The distance between contour lines indicates the
steepness of the slope. The greater the distance between two contours the less the slope. The opposite is also true. characteristics of contour lines cont. 10. A different type of line should be used for contours of major elevations. For example at 100, 50 and 10 foot
intervals. Common practice is to identify the major elevations lines, or every fifth line, with a bolder, wider, line. 1. Contours are Continuous Some contour lines may
complete full circles (connect) but others will not. In this case, they will start at a boundary line and end at a boundary line.
Contours must either close or extend from boundary to boundary. 2. Contour lines do not cross Two exceptions:
1. They will meet at a vertical cliff 2. They will overlap at a cave or overhang.
When contour lines overlap, the lower elevation contour should be dashed for the duration of the overlap. 3. Valleys and higher elevation
A valley is shown by a series of V-shapes where the Vs point to the higher elevation.
4. U shapes and ridge A series of U shapes indicates a ridge. The U shapes will point to lower elevation.
5. Contour Spacing Evenly spaced contours indicate an area of the same slope. Unevenly spaced contours indicates an area
with variable slope. 6 & 7 Hills and Depressions A series of closed contours with increasing elevation indicates a hill.
Hills may be identified with a + with the elevations 6 & 7 Hills and Depressions--cont.
A series of closed contours with decreasing elevation indicates a depression.
Depressions may be identified with a -. 8. Hachures Hachures are short lines
which are perpendicular to the contour line. Used to indicate a hill or a depression. Not used on modern maps.
9. Contour Spacing Contours spaced close together indicate a higher slope. Contours spaced wider apart indicate
lower slope. 9. Contour SpacingIntervals Another decision that must be made is the contour interval. The best interval depends on the use of the data.
10. Contour line The thicker contour is Called the index line.
How do you make a contour map? Contour lines never cross Contour lines never end- unless they go off the map There must be equal intervals between contour lines When contour lines are closer together, the slope is
steeper When the contour lines are spaces farther apart, the land is less steep Contour Map
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