Topographic maps video
This video outlines how to interpret the key features of a topographic map.
- explores how topographic maps can be used to illustrate physical land features, geographic position and elevations
- examines how to interpret contour lines and contour intervals
- how to identify mountains, valleys, plains, vegetation and hydrology
- examines how to use a key in a topographic map to find out more information about a particular area.
Watch 'Topographic maps' video(3:55).
[Screen shows a blue sky with clouds. Text on the screen reads, ‘Curriculum Secondary Learners – HSIE. Topographic maps. Presented by Jo Maiden’.]
The topography of an area is the physical features such as rivers, hills and valleys in the landscape.
[Presenter is standing in front of a decorative background. In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, the text reads, ‘Jo Maiden. HSIE Teacher, Southern Cross School of Distance Education’.]
Topographic maps show us the physical features of the land.
[Screen shows 2 images. On the left, there is a photograph of a mountain. On the right, there is a topographic map of the same mountain. Text on screen reads, ‘Mt Chincogan, Mullumbimby’.]
They show us geographical position and elevations for natural and built features.
[Screen shows a series of videos. These videos include a sun setting behind a mountain, an aerial view of a wetland, a tiered waterfall and a close-up shot of a stream.]
Topographic maps show relief, the shape of the land, the mountains, valleys and plains. They also show vegetation and hydrology – the rivers, streams, lakes, and dams.
[Screen shows a diagram. At the top of the diagram, there is a 3D drawing of a mountain range. There are contour lines wrapping around the 2 mountains. The base contour line is labelled, ‘10’. The lines above it are labelled ‘20’, ‘30’ and ‘40’, in that order. Underneath the mountain range, there is a flat topographic map of the same mountain. It also has contour lines that are labelled, ‘10’, ‘20’, ‘30’ and ‘40’. Vertical dotted lines connect the two drawings. The diagram is titled, ‘Map contours’.]
A contour line is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional landscape.
[Screen shows an illustration of a topographic map. The lines on the map are labelled, ‘Contour line’. The map is titled, ‘Topographical map’. The image then zooms out to reveal an illustrated mountain range underneath the topographic map. The features of the mountain range match the contour lines of the original topographic map.]
Contour lines show elevation or height above sea level.
[On both the topographic map and the mountain range illustration, the peak of the mountain is circled. These circles are labelled, ‘Hill’.]
Contour lines join places of equal elevation, so are a way to see the topography of the landscape on a map.
[Screen shows a topographic map of Wollumbin National Park. Text on screen reads, ‘Contour intervals’.]
A contour interval is the distance between contour lines on the ground.
[On the topographic map, a red line is drawn. This line connects two of the contour lines together. The red line is circled.]
On this map, we can see the contour lines from 500-metre height to 600-metre ADH, which is Australian Height Datum. There are 10 lines, and each line represents another 100 metres above sea level.
[Screen shows a photograph of Mt Warning. The photograph is titled, ‘Mt Warning – Wollumbin and Tweed Valley’.]
Here is a photograph of the general location we are seeing on the topographic map of Mount Warning, Wollumbin.
[Screen goes back to showing the topographic map of Wollumbin National Park. The tallest part of the mountain is circled.]
A hill is an area of high ground.
[A curvy, horizontal red line appears on the map. There is an arrowhead on either end of the line. The line connects the peak of the tallest mountain with another mountain peak.]
A ridge is a sloping line of high ground. Contour lines which are spaced further apart show a more gradual slope.
[The curvy line disappears from the map. Two straight red lines appear instead. There are arrowheads on both ends of the 2 red lines. The red lines each connect 2 thick contour lines together, with a number of thin contour lines in between. The line on the left connects 20 contour lines that are very close together. The line on the right connects 10 contour lines that are spaced further apart.]
Contour lines that are closer together show a steeper slope.
[A transparent red circle appears on top of the left-hand line.]
Here, this line on the map shows a slope that rises 200 metres in elevation.
[A transparent red circle appears on top of the right-hand line.]
Contour lines which are spaced further apart show a more gradual slope. This line also represents a slope, but it is rising only 100 metres in elevation over the distance on the ground.
[Screen shows a video of a gully from above. It then shows a ground-level video of a gully.]
A gully is a groove in the land usually formed by a creek.
[Screen shows a topographic map of Mooball National Park. On the bottom right-hand corner of the map, a piece of land with 4 creeks has been circled. Text on screen reads, ‘Spur’.]
A spur is a short, continuous sloping line of higher ground between the gullies formed from two creeks.
[Screen shows a topographic map of Mullumbimby. The map is titled, ‘Topographic map, Mullumbimby’.]
This topographic map gives us a lot of information.
[The map zooms in to take up the full screen.]
We can see part of the Brunswick River, smaller creeks, the north of Mullumbimby town, main roads, and smaller roads, as well as the contour lines, which show the elevation above sea level. You can see how, close to the river, the land is flatter. The lines are spaced further apart. We can also see how water flows downhill due to gravity.
Topographic maps are incredibly useful.
[Screen shows a map key that has been divided into 2 columns. On the left column, there is a list of symbols. On the right column, there is a list of matching features. Some of the features include built-up areas, major roads, railways, woodlands, cliffs, slipways and rocky shorelines. Text on screen reads, ‘Topographic map key’.]
On this picture, we can see the key for a topographic map showing much of the information found on topographic maps.
[Screen shows a close-up version of the key. It slowly scrolls down.]
They are used by travellers and bushwalkers. Importantly, they are used in industry such as mining, by governments in land planning, and emergency management, and helping to establish legal boundaries.
[Text on screen reads, ‘References
- Image: Judd, B (2021). ABC News, ‘Mountains in Mullumbimby’, 13 Mar 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-13/mountains-in-mullumbimby-1/13158806?nw=0
- Storyblocks: aerial-view-of-mt-coonowrin-fg-mt-beerwah-glasshouse-mountains-sunshine-coast-queen-SBV-346543572-HD.mp4
- Storyblocks: aerial-view-of-donnybrook-township-glass-house-mountains-in-the-distance-pumiceston-SBV-346792127-HD.mp4
- Storyblocks: aerial-shot-of-a-waterfall-in-oregon-SBV-320180077-HD
- Storyblocks:nn river-flowing-between-srock-in-amazonian-forest-saul-french-guiana-SBV-328055582-HD.mp4
- Topographic map excerpt: Huonbrook 1:25000 9540-1N © State of New South Wales (Spatial Services, a business unit of the Department of Customer Service NSW). For current information go to spatial.nsw.gov.au
- Image: UK Ordnance Survey (2020). A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Map Contour Lines. Accessed June 2021. https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/understanding-map-contour-lines-for-beginners/
- Topographic map excerpt: Murwillumbah 1:25000 9541-2N © State of New South Wales (Spatial Services, a business unit of the Department of Customer Service NSW), https://www.spatial.nsw.gov.au/’.
Text on screen reads, ‘References
- Image: ‘Mt Warning and Tweed Valley’ by Sheba, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
- Topographic map excerpt: Murwillumbah 1:25000 9541-2N © State of New South Wales (Spatial Services, a business unit of the Department of Customer Service NSW), https://www.spatial.nsw.gov.au/
- Image: ‘Creek gully’ by Glenn 3095 licenced under CC BY-NC-SA
- Topographic map, Mullumbimby region downloaded from Spatial Map Viewer © State of New South Wales (Spatial Services, a business unit of the Department of Customer Service NSW), https://www.spatial.nsw.gov.au/
- Image: ‘Checking the map at Lake Bell’ by Tony Marsh licenses under CC BY-SA 2.0
- Storyblocks: aerial-top-down-bird-view-of-pinetree-forest-and-small-stream-outdoor-summer-season-SBV-338663263-HD.mp4
- Storyblocks: beautiful-rocky-stream-in-woods-forest-trees-river-brooke-SBV-334644340.mp4
- Image of a map key from Murwillumbah 1:25000 9541-2N © State of New South Wales (Spatial Services, a business unit of the Department of Customer Service NSW), https://ww.spatial.nsw.gov.au/’.
Text on screen reads, ‘Acknowledgements. NSW Geography K-10 syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales 2015. See the NESA website for additional copyright information. NSW Department of Education Curriculum Secondary Learners. Southern Cross School of Distance Education.’
Screen shows an Indigenous artwork. The artwork features a landscape with native Australian animals. It is titled ‘Our Country’ by Garry Purchase. Text at the top of the screen reads, ‘Filming of these videos has taken place on Bundjalung land’. Video concludes by displaying the NSW Government logo.]
[End of transcript]