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Geosciences LibreTexts

2.2: Activity 2A - Drawing Contour Lines

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  • Follow these Rules for Drawing Contour Lines:

    • Contour lines connect points with the same elevation.

    • When drawing contour lines, connect the data points with one, smooth line avoiding sharp angles.

    • Contour lines never cross, branch off, or touch each other (there are exceptions).

    • When contour lines cross streams they point towards the higher elevation.

    • If a contour line is close to the perimeter of the map & does not form an enclosed circle, continue it to the edge of the map.

    • Use a pencil to draw the contour lines and if you make a mistake, erase completely. You could also complete the map digitally.

    Helpful tips:

    • Before you start drawing contours lines, note the location of the highest elevation, the lowest elevation, any water bodies, and the contour interval.

    • It is usually easier to start with the contour line that has the lowest elevation.

    • Only work on one contour line at a time!

    Figure 2.21: Elevation points to practice drawing contour lines.
    1. With a pencil (or digitally), draw in contour lines on Figure 2.21 using a 10-foot contour interval.

    2. Answer the following questions based on the contour map you have completed,

    a. In what direction does the stream flow?

    b. How were you able to determine the direction?

    c. What is the distance from the highest hill to point B. ?

    d. How were you able to determine point B is near a hill?


    • Figure 2.21: “Make Your Own Contour Map” (CC-BY 4.0; Cynthia Lampe, own work)

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