What Is A Topo Map

What Is A Topographical Map

What Is A USGS Map

 

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Topo Maps Defined

 

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What Are Topographical Maps

1:100 000 Scale USGS TOPO MAP Above - Image Produced By Casanova's Computer Lab Using 'ALL TOPO MAPS' Software

A Topographical Map is a drawing that represents an area of the Earth's surface with distinctive land-surface characteristics represented as contour lines and a set of graphic symbols representing other features found on the Earth.  Topographical map contours are imaginary lines that join points of equal elevation on the surface of the land, above or below a reference surface, such as "mean sea level".   Contours make it possible to measure the height of mountains, depths of the ocean bottom, and steepness of slopes from a topographical map.

A topographic map contains more than contours.  The Topographical map includes symbols that represent such features as streets, buildings, streams, and vegetation.  These symbols are constantly refined to better relate to the features they represent, improve the appearance or readability of the map, or reduce production cost.  Each country defines a set of standard symbols to be used on all of their officially printed topographical maps.

Consequently, within the same series, maps may have slightly different symbols for the same feature.  Examples of symbols that have changed include built-up areas, roads, intermittent drainage, and some lettering styles.  On one type of large-scale topographic map, called provisional, some symbols and lettering are hand drawn.

Always seek out the countries official topographical map guide, which should include the most complete index and definitions to the symbols used.   Also, Always seek out the most recent published maps available for an area that will be navigated!

Reading Topographical Maps

Interpreting the colored lines, areas, and other symbols is the first step in using topographic maps.   Features are shown as points, lines, or areas, depending on their size and extent.   For example, individual houses may be shown as small black squares.   For larger buildings, the actual shapes are mapped. In densely built-up areas, most individual buildings are omitted and an area tint is shown.   On some maps, post offices, churches, city halls, and other landmark buildings are shown within the tinted area.

Consequently, within the same series, maps may have slightly different symbols for the same feature.   Examples of symbols that have changed include built-up areas, roads, intermittent drainage, and some lettering styles. On one type of large-scale topographic map, called provisional, some symbols and lettering are hand drawn

 

USA Topographical Maps / USGS-USDA Forest Service Single-Edition Quadrangle Maps

In August 1993, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service signed an Interagency Agreement to begin a single-edition joint mapping program.  This agreement established the coordination for producing and maintaining single-edition primary series topographic maps for quadrangles containing National Forest System lands.   The joint mapping program eliminates duplication of effort by the agencies and results in a more frequent revision cycle for quadrangles containing National Forests.  Maps are revised on the basis of jointly Developed standards and contain normal features mapped by the USGS, as well as additional features required for efficient management of National Forest System lands.  Single edition maps look slightly different but meet the content, accuracy, and quality criteria of other USGS products.

 

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