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MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION

MAP
Map is a scaled representation of a part of the earth or whole of the earth’s surface on a flat surface such as sheet of paper, wall, piece of wood or plastic etc. or
It is a drawing which represents physical features.
Map interpretation is the process of examining a given topographical map of an area represented for the purpose of identifying the geographical information of an area.
It has two basic process
-Map reading
-Map analysis.
Map reading -is the process of examining the given topographical map,conventional symbols and signs.
Map analysis -is the process of relating the identified information on the map with other geographical information which are not direct shown on the map.
TYPES OF MAPS
According to functions;
1) Topographical maps
Are maps which show physical features which are natural features e.g. mountains, valleys, hills etc and man made features e.g. bridges, ponds, roads, settlements etc
2)
Statistical maps
Are maps which show the distribution of things in quantitative manner e.g. distribution of rainfall, temperature, crops etc.. Examples of statistical maps are dot maps, choroploth maps, Isoline maps etc
According to Scale size;
1) Large scale maps
Are those maps drawn to large scale size e.g. 1:10000
These maps gives a larger representation of small area, they are also more detailed (shows a lot of information). They represent areas like cities, towns and villages.
2) Medium scale maps
Are those maps drawn to medium scale size e.g. 1:100000
They show a moderate amount of details. They represent areas like districts, regions and countries.
3) Small scale maps
Are those maps drawn to small scale size e.g. 1:1000000
They give a small presentation of a large area; they show little content (little information)
They represent areas like continents and the world.
IMPORTANCE OF MAP READING
i) They provide basis for description of geographical phenomenon
ii) They are useful for traveling purpose i.e. they guide people to reach their destination
iii) Maps are useful for storage of geographical information
iv)They are important for field studies
v) They are important for land use planning
vi) They are useful for military purposes e.g. during wars.
BASIC SKILLS OF MAP READING/ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A MAP
The basic skills required in understanding how to read a map include;
  1. Title
  2. Scale
  3. Key
  4. Indication of the north direction
  5. Margin/Boundary
  6. Date of compilation
1.Tittle
Tittle gives the name of the country and the area where mapped. It helps the map reader to know what the map is all about. The heading is usually printed in bold capital used on the map
2.Scale
Scale is a ratio between the distance on the map and actual distance on the ground. It is used to find actual distance and areas on the ground. On topographical maps scales are given in form of ratio or lines
3.Key/ legend
Key is a feature which explains the signs and symbols which are used on the map. Not all symbols which are used in the key are applicable to the particular map but all signs and symbols applied on the map are shown on the key.

Definition of terms which should be added on others terms under the tittle “Basic skills of map reading/Essential elements of a map” are ” margins/Bounder

4.Indication of north direction

It gives an idea about the orientation of the map especially in identifying where the north direction is.

5.Margin/Boundary

A frame which borders the map. This guide and limit the map user in reading and interpreting the map. The aim of the margin is to enclose the area covered by the map

6. Date of compilation

Gives the publisher name and when the map was published .This date is important because physical and human settlements features changes with time but the map drawn representing the land does not. For instance between 1960 and 2007 Dar es salaam has changed in many ways.

FROM MAP INTERPRETATION THE FOLLOWING GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION CAN BE DESCRIBED
A.DRAINAGE
B.ROCK TYPE/STRUCTURE
C.RELIEF
D. CLIMATE
E.HUMAN ACTIVITIES
F.POPULATION DISTRIBUTION AND SETTLEMENTS.
A. DRAINAGE
Drainage is the plan or layout of the river with its tributaries until it reaches its destination i.e. lake, main river, swamps or an ocean .therefore the concept drainage includes rivers , swamps, lakes, waterfalls ,flood areas
Note:-the common drainage shown on the map is rivers, swamps, lakes and ocean. But expect to see even waterfalls especially on coloured topographical map.
DRAINAGE PATTERNS
-Simply means the network displayed by a river and its tributaries
-Drainage of the river usually posses different network/system depending on the way how tributaries convey to the main river and the general appearance, hence drainage pattern
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
THE FOLLOWING PATTERNS ARE COMMONLY DISPLAYED IN TOPOGRAPHICAL MAPS
I. DENDRITIC PATTERN
-Is a pattern in which its tributaries convey (join) to the main river at an acute angle resembling to the shape of tree trunk and its branches
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
Note:- Dendritic pattern are common in areas of gentle slope and of uniform(homogeneous)rock hardness. Therefore it can be made from granitic or metamorphic rock

II.TRELLISED PATTERN
Is the pattern in which its tributaries convey or join to the main river at almost right angle.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
Note:- This type is commonly found in areas with severe cracks or fractures mostly to the rocks with an alternate hard and soft rock. Therefore this is associated with sedimentary rocks.

III. RADIAL PATTERN
-Is the pattern or layout in which its tributaries flow outward from the center.(summit) or at the peaks of mountains
OR
-is a pattern that resemble a spoken ring of bicycles where stream flow out in every direction from the center.
-Therefore radial drainage pattern is commonly associated with volcanic mountains /region composed of granitic rock or igneous rock
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
IV. CENTRIPETAL DRAINAGE PATTERN
-this is the pattern in which almost all streams are following from all direction converging to the center can be to the swamp, lake or depression.
OR
-Is opposite to radial as in this type the streams flow toward a common depression center
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
Note:-The determinant factor of stream flow is a slope .Therefore the drainage pattern can be associated with sedimentary rock.
V. RECTANGULAR PATTERN /DRAINAGE.
-Is a pattern which resemble trellised, but it has tributaries joining the main river at a right angle. The pattern is common in areas which are faulted.
-Therefore can be found along sedimentary rocks/granitic rock or any faulted rock.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
VI. BRAIDED PATTERN
-Is the pattern in which its distributaries tend to split into several channels which rejoin and split again .The Congo River has braided channels between Lisala and river Ubangi.


EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
VII. ANNULAR PATTERN.
-Is the pattern with series of streams flowing on flanks or around the dissected dome, depression or crater. Where there are an alternate band of soft and hard rocks.

EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
Note:-This type is not so common, but is found around Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana .Is commonly found in areas affected by back tilting.
B . ROCK TYPE/STRUCTURE
-surface rock on the topographical maps is not directly indicated .They some clues are needed in order to identify rock type and structure of the mapped area.
TYPES OF ROCK IN RELATION TO PHYSICAL FEATURES:-
  • LAND FORMS
  • VEGETATION
  • NATURE OF THE ROCK
LAND FORMS
-Land forms shown on the topographical maps help on interpretation of rock type
e.g. The presence of volcanic land form such a crater, caldera, name of the volcanic mountains suggest the presence of igneous rock.
The presence of erosion and depositional features such as; depression, sand dunes, coral reef suggest the presence of sedimentary rock.
-Flood plain suggest sedimentary rock
-The presence of highland with steep slope indicated that rock are hard and resistance to the erosion .Hence such hard rock can be granite quartzite and gabbros
-presence of gentle slope, indicate soft rock e.g. sedimentary rock
-Flood plains suggest sedimentary rock
VEGETATION
-thick forest suggests the presence of igneous rock.
-poor vegetation cover suggests the presence of sedimentary rocks or metamorphic rock.

NATURE OF THE ROCK
Absence of streams indicates that the rocks are permeable. Thus this depict that the rock is soft which can either be sedimentary, limestone or sandstone.
presence of many streams on surface, indicate that the rock are impermeable such as igneous or granitic rock.
GENERAL INTERPRETATION
  • Read the contour and the conventiona
    l symbols or signs on the map to identify types of relief. Can either be highland relief with lower arts or lowland relief.
  • Describe the relief with associated land forms.
  • Note:-When you determine types of relief first look on the units (V.I) whether the unit is in meters or feet. If units are in feet take the highest value the convent into meter finally determine type of relief (1m=3.3ft)
CLIMATE
-Climate is the average weather condition experience in a given area over a long period of time not les than 30 years.
-Topographical maps may be used to identify the climate of given mapped area.
-The following clue may be employed to identify or depict the type of climate on a given area
LATITUDE
  • 0-5N/S of the equatorial imply wet-hot climate particularly EQUATORIAL CLIMATE
  • 5-15N/S of the equator may suggest TROPICAL CLIMATE with seasonal rainfall.
  • 15-30N.S of the equator imply SEMI-DESERT
  • 30-40 N/S IMPLIES DESERT CLIMATE or MEDITERRANEAN CLIMATE
ALTITUDE
-Look on the contour height on mapped area. If the area experience high rainfall and implies. MOUNTANEOUS CLIMATE.
WATER BODIES
Presence of salt lake
-waterhole (wh)
-bore hole (bh)
-seasonal swamps
ALL these implies semi-arid climate
Presence of many streams in relation to the altitude indicates area that receives heavy rainfall.
VEGETATION
Is the total plant cover i.e. vegetation & crops
Vegetation and crops area also good guide on identifying type of climate.
  • Vegetation can be Natural or artificial (planted tree)Therefore:-
  • -presence of dense forest(tall trees)and bamboo suggest wet climate(equatorial climate or modified equatorial climate).
  • -presence of scattered woodland vegetation suggest moderate rainfall (tropical climate)
  • -presence of scrub/shrubs(thorn forest )and thicket(closely set tree)indicate semi-desert or desert
CROPS
  • Crops also help to depict the type of climate because crops are grown depending on the climatic condition that favours the growth of crop. Therefore
  • The presence of coffee tea pyrethrum rubber and cocoa imply/suggest heavy rainfall i.e. WET-COOL CLIMATE (Tropical highland)
  • Presence of sugar cane sisal cotton I n the absence of irrigation suggest semi-Arid or dry climate. Note (sometimes range from tropical to semi arid with consideration of other factors)
  • The presence of palm tree indicate Wet-warm climate
  • Presence of millet and sorghum imply semi-Desert
Note: On identifying the climate of a given area one is advised to relay on more than one evidence
E. ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES /HUMAN ACTIVITIES
-Topographical map may contain information o economic activities undertaking usually the following are shown on topo maps.
a)ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
i) Agriculture: – look on the presence of;
  • Rural settlement in absence of other activities
  • scattered cultivation
  • storage houses/center
  • plantation or estate (indicate large scale agr)
  • industry such as Ginneres, Hulleries and Decotecator
seldom symbols or signs are used e.g. S-sisal, CC-coffee, Su-sugarcane

ii) Pastoralism:-look on the presence of;
  • cattle market-cattle dips
  • veterinary installation (Vet. Office)/center
  • Creamers (lace where milk, cream butter and cheese are processed
  • Scattered vegetation or dominated by scrub/shrubs)
  • Bore holes (Bore holes (BH) or water hole (wh)
iii)mining:-look on the presence of;
  • symbols of PIC () and shovel (
  • salt work
  • quarrying
  • Roasting
  • Sign Tin-TN, Iron-Fe.
iv) Fishing:-look on the presence of;
  • water bodies such as lakes, seasonal swamps, rivers, dams, ocean. These should be surrounded by settlement.
v) Trade and transportation-look on the presence of
  • Road, railway, towns and market
vi) Lumbering-look on the presence of;
  • forest with track-roads ending on their edges.
  • Saw-mill
  • Sao hill forest
  • -Note: thicket, scrubs/shrubs and bamboo trees cannot be exploited as a timber.
Vii) Tourism :-look on the presence of;
  • National parks
  • Game reserve
  • Recreational centre’s e.g. museum, archives beaches etc
  • Landscape e.g. crater depression etc.
SETTLEMENT
Is a layout of dwelling in the habitable area where people live and conduct their social and economic activities by interacting with the prevailing environment.
There are two types of settlements which commonly than on the topographic of a map and these includes, rural and urban settlement.
URBAN SETTLEMENT
Is commonly found I areas of the following nature
  • District administrative centers
  • Regional administrative centers
  • Capital city of a country
RURAL SETTLEMENT
Is an area where the majority of people approximately to cover 80% engage in agriculture
SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
The signs showing settlements on topographical maps are observed to have varied arrangement. The most common pattern include the following
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
i) Dispersed pattern
It is alternatively called scattered settlement pattern .The houses are widely spaced one to another
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
ii) Nucleated settlement pattern
Houses and other related form are compacted to another.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
iii) Linear settlement pattern
Houses are concentrated along an elongated objected of economic significance like a road, river, railway lines and others
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATIONEcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
FACTORS ENCOURAGING SETTLEMENTS
1) A reliable source of water supply e.g. presence of permanent rivers, lakes.
2) Gentle sloe i.e. people prefer to establish settlement in less hazardous areas
3) Good soil for agriculture
4) Pleasant climate condition
5) Transport and communication.


Grid system numbers
Are numbers which show the position of physical features, most large scale topographical maps having vertical and horizontal lines drawn on them. Grid lines are drawn for the specific purpose of facilitating map reading especially fixing positions on the map. Vertical lines are called Eastings; they are numbered towards the east. Horizontal lines are called Northings. They are numbered towards the north.
· The original point of the grid is 0 marked
· There are 6 numbers / units
· 3 first digits are the eastings latitude from the west to east
· 3 last digits are northings longitude from north to south
WAYS OF SHOWING POSITION ON A MAP
A place can be located by its name where it is found. A more accurate way of locating a place is the use of latitudes and longitudes, this method is used by scalars at sea and aircraft in their flights. Generally position of any place can be located by using;
· place names
· Bearing
· Latitudes and longitudes
· Grid reference
METHODS OF SHOWING RELIEF ON TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP
In topographical maps relief is shown using trigonometrical Station which is shown by using triangles followed by a number of exact heights from the sea level.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
2.SPOT HEIGHT
The spot height is another method used for showing relief, it is indicated by a dot with a number exact height 5890
e.g EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
3.LAYER COLORING /TINTING
Is also done to show the relief features on the map, different coloring shades on the map to indicate different heights
4.FORM LINES
Are usually unnumbered lines drawn on a map joining of nearly the same height areas, Are broken lines
—————————————– They are drawn between two contour lines

5.HUNCHERES
Huaraches are lines drawn on a relief map showing direction and steepness of a slope
6.CONTOUR
Contour lines drawn on the map to join all places of the same height from the mean sea level.
This measurement of heights shown by contour lines starts from the mean sea level which is regarded as zero height.
Contour and associated landforms
Contour also form different patterns which result in different landforms
Contour lines do not cross one another.
a) A ridge
Ridge is a narrow and long relief feature with steep slopes.
The contour lines of a ridge run parallel to each other.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
b) An escarpment
An escarpment is an area of highland with very steep slopes on one side and a gentle slope on another side. The steep slope of an escarpment is called the scarp slope and the gentle slope is known as dip slope.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
c) A plateau
A plateau is an extensive highland region with undulating surface. A plateau is easily identified on the map by the absence of contour lines on the higher land surface and with a series of contours close together on either sides.
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION
EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION


EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION

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2 Comments

  • EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION

    Mike, May 9, 2024 @ 8:38 am Reply

    If only you can allow us to download the notes, it would be good because you have the best notes , well elaborated with labeled diagrams

  • EcoleBooks | GEOGRAPHY O LEVEL(FORM THREE) NOTES - MAP READING AND INTERPRETATION

    Dativa Tetty, January 4, 2022 @ 9:58 am Reply

    The materials are well detailed but failed to benefit them for the use because i couldnot down load or copy them. please send them to me if it possible. i realy liked them because the are well elaborated wit diagrams.

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