Landforms and Topographic Maps

Science, Grade 6

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Table Of Contents: Landforms and Topographic Maps

1. Types of Landforms
Three major types of landforms are plains, plateaus and mountains. A plain is a large region of nearly flat or gently rolling land with little change in elevation. A plateau is a highly elevated flat region that often contains rivers and streams. Mountains are high elevation landforms with steep slopes.
2. What Is a Topographic Map?
A topographic map provides information about the surface features of a particular area. Topographic maps show natural features such as rivers and mountains as well as human-made features like buildings, roads and bridges. The symbols that represent map features are found in the legend.
3. Topographic Map Contour Lines
Contour lines on a topographic map connect points of equal elevation. An index contour is a darker, heavier line with a marked elevation. The contour interval is the difference in elevation between two contour lines. The relief is the vertical distance between the highest and lowest elevation points on the map.
4. Topographic Map Rules
There are some basic rules to remember when reading a topographic map. Contour lines never cross. When contour lines are spaced close together, the slope is steep. If they are spread apart, the slope is gentle. Contour lines that cross a valley or stream are V-shaped with the V pointing toward the higher elevation. Tops of hills or depressions are shown as closed circles.