The Ultimate Reading a Topographic Map Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Topographic maps show the landscape in detail. They show the land's contours, elevations, mountains, valleys, bodies of water, vegetation and more. Knowing how to use a topographic map can make cross-country hiking navigation a cinch. Take this quiz to learn more about topographic maps.

What's the difference between a topographic map and a regular map?

Unlike regular maps, topographic maps show three-dimensional landscape on a two-dimensional surface, using measurements such as contours and elevation to indicate the features of the terrain. A regular will just show where various places are, along with any existing boundaries.


When was the first topographic map made in the United States?

The first topographic map was made in 1879 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).


What technology made it easier to make topographic maps since the 1940s?

Developments in aerial photography, followed by satellite photography, made it easy to take photos of the landscape in extensive detail.


Which of these landscape details is not shown by topographic maps?

Topographic maps do not show the depth of the water table inside the Earth. Topographic maps normally show various bodies of water bodies, vegetation types, relief features such as hills (and their height), as well as structures created by man.


In which of these fields are topographic maps not used?

While not used in athletics, they are used in a wide variety of fields, including engineering, conservation, environmental management, public works design and urban planning, as well as outdoor activities like fishing, hiking or camping.


What do green symbols denote on a topographic map?

Green symbols on a topographic map denote vegetation.


What do blue symbols denote on a topographic map?

Blue symbols on a topographic map denote water resources such as rivers, wells, etc..


What do gray or red symbols denote on a topographic map?

Grey or red symbols on a topographic map denote densely built-up areas.


How are houses shown on topographic maps?

Houses are shown as small black squares on topographic maps.


What feature are found most commonly on a topographic map?

Contour lines are the most common feature found on a topographic map. Basically, these are lines connecting points of equal elevation (height) on the map.


Which landscape feature is shown by a contour map?

Besides connecting all points of same elevation, contour maps also show the shape of the landscape.


What are the even spaces between the various contour lines known as?

They are known as contour intervals. Different topographic maps use different contour intervals, depending on the topography.


What are the darker contour lines known as?

Darker contour lines are known as index contour. Every fifth contour line is an index contour. It helps make the map less dense, and easier to understand.


On a topographic map, how do you know you are looking at a steep slope?

If the contours are close together on a topographic map, you're looking at a steep slope.


On a topographic map, what contour feature does not denote a relatively flat terrain?

Thin contour lines do not denote a flat terrain. On the other hand, if the contour lines have wide spaces in between, or don't exist at all, this denotes a relatively flat terrain.


What is the first number of a scale on a topographic map?

The first number of scale is always one. For example, a scale of 1:48,000 means that one inch on the map is equal to 48,000 inches.


What scale is commonly used on U.S. topographic maps?

1:24,000 is the scale most often used on U.S. topographic maps, which are produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A 1:24,000 map is large and provides a lot of detail about the area. It shows all the man-made structures on the terrain: buildings, footbridges, private roads, etc.


How many topographic maps does it take to show all the 48 contiguous United States, Hawaii and territories?

According to the USGS, it requires around 57,000 maps at 1;24,000 scale to cover them all.


What is the scale of topographic maps used by town planners and engineers?

Town planners and engineers normally use maps with a scale of 1:600. This is because they have to plan all types of small structures on a dense grid. They need better land clarity.


Where is the north direction on a topographic map?

North is always at the top edge of a topographic map.


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