How do you read a topographic map?

1 Answer
Oct 13, 2015

Topographic maps use legends that have different colors. Legend explains what each symbols represents.


The following are the rules on how to read your topographic map easier:
A. A contour line of one elevation never crosses or divides a contour line of another elevation. Each contour line represents only one elevation. The contour lines cannot intersect since one point cannot have two different elevations.
B. Closely spaced contour lines represent a steep slope. The lines are closely spaced because the elevation of a steep slope changes greatly over a very short distance. Contour lines spaced far apart represent a gentle slope. The lines are far apart because the elevation of a gentle slope changes only slightly from one point to another.
C. Contour lines that cross a valley are V shaped. If a stream flows through the valley, the V will point upstream, or in the direction opposite to the flow of the stream.
D. Contour lines form closed loops around hilltops and depressions. Elevation numbers on the contour lines indicate whether a feature is a hilltop or depression. If the numbers increase toward the center of the closed loop, the feature is a hilltop. If the numbers decrease, the feature is a depression. Sometimes elevation numbers are not given. instead short dashes called hachures are used to indicate depression. Hachures are drawn perpendicular to the contour line that loops around a depression. The hachures point to the inside of the loop.