Types of Maps

Maps differ in the amount and kind of information they give, and the graphic devices used to convey the information. Some of the types of maps in common use are the following: General Reference Maps are maps, usually of relatively large areas, that show major land and water areas, and such features as cities and political boundaries. Atlas maps are generally of this kind. Topographic Maps, prepared from original surveys and aerial photographs, show all important natural and man-made features in relatively small areas, usually in considerable detail. Military and most maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey are of this kind. Planimetric Maps, unlike topographic maps, make no attempt to show varying elevations. They are drawn as though the earth were a plane (flat) surface. Charts are maps used in sea and air navigation. They are specially designed for plotting a course. Thematic, Or Topical, Maps provide information on a single subject. Usually the mere outline of the area under consideration is shown. Against this simplified background the special information is made to stand out by various methods. For example, colors or patterns may be used to show the distribution of rainfall, soil types, or election results. Dots may represent places where a firm has retail sale outlets, the location of historical sites, or the like. Variations of quantity—of rainfall, population, or crop yields, for example—may be shown as variations in color or tones of gray; or isopleths (“equal value” lines), such as the isobars on weather maps. Cartograms are maplike diagrams. They present statistics in a pictorial way. A cartogram might show, for example, the countries of the world in their proper map position, but with each country distorted to a size proportionate to its population. On such a cartogram, Italy would be more than twice the size of Canada.

Map Projections

Conformal maps are more widely and variously used. features occupy the same relative areas as they do on the globe. Distortion is very small. Because points are transferred by reference to the grid. features have the same shape as they do on the globe. or the transfer of points on a sphere (the earth) to a plane surface (the map) by mathematical means. of transferring the grid from the curved globe to the flat surface that will become the map. the mapmaker must decide at what angle the earth will be viewed. This is done by reference to imaginary. first. for a curved surface cannot be represented truly as a plane. but their areas are sometimes distorted. squeezed. a hemisphere. There are three main groups of projections: the azimuthal. Projection involves some distortion. Every point on the map is shown at its true direction. regularly spaced. points on the globe can be transferred accurately to the flat grid. Examples of azimuthal projections: . for example). polar. numbered lines circling the earth—the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude. distortion has to be considered. depending on the projection method used. or azimuth.A basic problem in mapmaking is to depict the earth's curved surface on a flat surface. and direction. Equal-area maps are useful for showing comparative distribution (of crops. The mapmaker must also decide to what extent true space relationships are to be preserved. or Zenithal. and usually can be ignored. The projection will be equatorial if the earth is viewed from directly above the equator. distance. or cut into segments. Projection consists. each capable of expressing different relationships of shape. some are close to being both. Mapmakers have a choice of more than 200 projections. Every point on the earth's surface may be located exactly by reference to the grid. On a map of the world. Any straight line passing through the map's center point represents a great circle. The projected grid appears to be stretched. however. since the shape of features usually is significant for most map purposes. Then. Meridians and parallels intersect at right angles to form the global grid. but their shapes may be distorted. Before choosing the actual projection. on maps of small portions of the earth's surface. points on the sphere must be located accurately. conic. Unless understood. Before a projection can be made. On a conformal projection. The purpose of the map determines what projection is chosen. There are many kinds of map projections. or a large country. On an equal-area projection. from the center point. and cylindrical. if viewed from above the north pole or south pole. Some maps are neither equal-area nor conformal. Projections are centered around a point. and the map can be drawn. The method used is projection. and oblique if viewed from an angle between the equator and one of the poles. In most cases the nature of the distortion can be recognized from the grid pattern. area. Azimuthal. the distortion gives a false idea of the shape and size of lands and seas. global features also are altered in appearance. and of the direction and distance from one to another.

The cone can be placed over a globe. a Lambert conformal conic projection using the 33rd and 45th parallels as standard is capable of showing most of the United States in nearly its true global proportion. Gnomonic projection has the unique property of showing all great circles as straight lines. Distortion occurs above and below (north and south of) this parallel. The apex (point) of the cone is always directly above one of the poles. All meridians are straight lines converging to a point (the apex of the cone). unlike the other zenithal projections discussed here. This projection is favored for world. The Lambert Azimuthal Equal-area Projection has true equal-area properties. Conic Projections are based on the fact that a piece of paper can be rolled into the shape of a cone.The Orthographic Projection views the globe from an extremely distant point. Examples of conic projections: The Lambert Conformal Conic Projection has two standard parallels. the Lambert projection permits great circles to be shown as straight lines. It is used almost exclusively for sailing charts and air charts (in establishing the shortest course between two points). Shapes are much compressed at the map's outer edges. Orthographic maps are best for picturing the earth as a globe. hemispheric. Most conic projections are variations of the cone-on-globe technique. It is impossible to show a complete hemisphere. and the global grid projected upon the cone. It is based on mathematical formulas worked out by the German scientist Johann Heinrich Lambert (17281777). For this reason it is used for aeronautical charts. For example. a map grid is obtained. the conic projection gives only a sector of a circle and cannot show the entire globe. The cone rests upon the globe like a cap on the head. The line of contact between cone and globe is called the standard parallel. Unlike an azimuthal projection. The largest area that can be shown is one hemisphere. and at the center of. Surface features are much distorted. The Polyconic Projection . the globe. Other parallels are spaced in a way that gives a high degree of conformity throughout the map. All parallels are arcs of concentric circles (like the cone's rim). in cases where this visual impression is needed. the projection resembles a photograph of the earth. anywhere on the map. For limited areas of the globe. When the cone is unrolled to lie flat. The Gnomonic Projection has its center within. Thus. and continental maps of a general nature. since the spacing of meridians and parallels increases greatly toward the margins of the map.

In this case the figure is a cylinder. Sometimes two arrows. as on the globe. however. are enormously enlarged. which is used by the National Geographic Society for its world maps. for example. or deeply notched. These projections are oval. They are based on mathematical calculations aimed chiefly at obtaining equal-area properties within selected latitudes. for example. The Legend. Map symbols frequently resemble the things they stand for: bunched reeds for marshlands and many tiny dots for sandy beaches. The resulting map grid is rectangular. use the method of projecting the global grid upon a figure that is capable of being flattened. Cylindrical projections can have more than one standard parallel. the homolosine. Meridians and parallels intersect at right angles. The spacing of parallels depends on the orientation of the cylinder in relation to the globe's axis. or nearly so.uses a number of cones to establish several standard parallels. Greenland. The polyconic projection serves well as a basis for topographic maps of limited areas. it usually may be assumed that the top of the map is north. Compass Direction On many maps. Polar areas. A cylindrical projection can show the entire world. are used. close together. The Robinson projection. Reading A Map To read a map properly a person must (1) keep the principles of projection in mind. north is indicated by an arrow. The resulting grid is nearly both conformal and equal-area. like conic projections. was developed by the Flemish geographer Gerhardus Mercator (1512-1594). is a printed explanation of symbols and colors used on the map. (2) consult the legend and other aids found on the map itself. Other Projections include the homolographic and sinusoidal types and a combination of these types. The legend also may give the name of the projection used. provides nearly equal-area coverage. If compass direction is not marked. appears larger than South America. Mercator maps are much used in navigation. Example of cylindrical projection: The Mercator Projection. Or Key. Homolosine maps sometimes are interrupted. and for general-purpose world maps. one of the most commonly used of all projections. the other magnetic north. . one shows true north. For equatorial areas of the globe it is a true conformal projection. since any straight line on the map represents a true compass bearing. Cylindrical Projections.

Relief depicts the configuration of the land: plains. a line one inch long is marked “100 miles” and divided into five equal lengths. For example. a graphic scale remains true if the map is enlarged or reduced. and mountains. thus: “Scale: 1 inch to 100 miles. For example. Lettering is stretched out to cover a large feature and is made small and compact for a minor feature.000. The interval.” Representative Fraction (RF) gives the scale as an arithmetically exact ratio. and summits. The closer the contour lines come together. or tinting to give the appearance of the land as though lighted from above and to the side. hills. thus: “1: 6. if two towns are shown one inch apart on the map but actually are 100 miles apart. For example. plateaus.Lettering is used to label the surface features. each representing 20 miles. another style for water features. may be 1. the steeper the land is. . Similar methods. or difference in elevation between any two contour lines. any of the following methods of expressing scale might be used: Miles-per-inch Scale states the relationship in words and figures.” This means that one inch on the map is equal to 6. or continuous lines connecting all points of equal elevation. Scale is the relationship between the length of a line on the map and the corresponding actual distance on the earth's surface. or only 10 feet (3 m) or so on maps of a small area. valleys.336. A relief map may be a three-dimensional plaster model or it may be the usual two-dimensional map on which relief is shown by graphic methods. Contour lines sometimes are combined with shading.000 feet (300 m) or more on maps covering a large area. widely spaced capital letters but the name of a village is given in small letters beside a dot showing the location. For example. the name of a country is shown in large. one style of type will be used for political entities.000 inches (the number of inches in 100 miles).336. found on older maps. are hachuring and stippling. graduated line. Styles of type are used in a consistent way. A more precise method of showing relief is by the use of contour lines. closely set parallel lines are used. One method—used on most modern maps—is shading. by means of a short. Graphic Scale gives the relationship visually. in stippling. In hachuring. dots. Unlike numerical methods of indicating scale. and a third style for natural ground features such as deserts.

Much of the United States is mapped on a coordinate system that is often used descriptively in property deeds and tax rolls. From an airplane flying at great heights.000 feet (3.6 km) square. normally 10. In this technique. On many maps. and are further identified as lying within ranges numbered consecutively east or west of a base meridian. while in geodetic surveying it is taken into consideration. that scans the earth from horizon to horizon. Photogrammetry is the science of mapping from photographs. Each township is divided into 36 sections. in the fourth township north (of the base parallel) within the third range east (of the base meridian). . on other maps the coordinates are arbitrarily established. the cartographer uses a sheet of acetate coated with an opaque substance and cuts away the coating in the areas where black lines are to appear in the final map. The photographs are cut into pieces and assembled into a mosaic. An increasing number of maps are being made with computers. Cartographers receive their training in college or on the job. the curvature of the earth is ignored. Large square areas are divided into townships. parallels serve as coordinates. where it is combined with additional data (such as the location of petroleum deposits or coal seams) to produce special-purpose maps. many are made with the scribing technique. or land measurement.6 km) square. this description precisely locates the farm within its township. Example: A 40-acre farm occupies “NE1/4 SW1/4 Sec 11 T4N R3E.000 to 40. This data is fed into a computer.050 to 12. The mapmaker. They are an aid in locating surface features. The two surveying methods most commonly used are plane and geodetic. or pattern related to the grid. Although some maps are drawn with ink on artboard or acetate. The townships are numbered consecutively north or south of a base parallel. hundreds of overlapping pictures are taken with a special camera. uses these surveys to produce a map. Mapmaking The basis of accurate mapmaking is surveying. Artificial satellites. Locations are described by abbreviations fitting this system. each six miles (9. each one mile (1. The computer can display the new maps on a screen similar to that of a television set or it can draw them on paper. Shaded relief is generally done on artboard with an airbrush. or cartographer. Information from aerial photographs and existing maps is put into digital form by assigning each point on the map or photo a numerical value.200 m).” This means the farm is in the northeastern quarter of the southwestern quarter of the 11th section.Coordinates are lines drawn horizontally and vertically across the map. In plane surveying. Using only a few letters and numbers. Coordinates may be lettered or numbered in the map margins for index purposes. called a trimetrogon camera. highly detailed and accurate maps can be made. too. are used in photogrammetry. From the mosaic and additional informiation from ground surveys.

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