elevation

Reading Topography

As I discussed in my last blog, reading topography can be a bit of an art. Those who deal with it regularly gain the capability to see the contours literally come into focus as a three dimensional pattern. For example, I can look at a topographic map and tell whether the contours are forming the side of a hill or defining the sides of a wash.

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Relief from Topography

My father, ‘Sut’ Settlemeyer was a surveyor for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). He referred to the maps they produced as quad, or relief maps. The universal geologic language of relief mapping is contour topography. Now what exactly is a contour? Simply, nothing more than a step. Just as a flight of stairs is comprised of risers and treads, topographic contours consist of elevations and resolution.
 
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