Fluvial Geomorphology of the Upper Yellowstone River Drainage Basin: Using Google Earth to Analyze Rivers

Initial Publication Date: June 24, 2008 | Reviewed: November 3, 2013


Students will learn how to make measurements and collect data using Google Earth and NIH ImageJ.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



2nd year geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic computer skills.

How the activity is situated in the course

stand-alone exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

analyze various parameters of streams and drainage basins, identify features on topographic maps, measure and plot profiles, etc.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Make interpretations, quantify observations, compare and contrast

Other skills goals for this activity

Using Google Earth, Excel, ImageJ and topographic maps

Description of the activity/assignment

Students load a topographic overlay into Google Earth. Rather than working with paper maps they will learn to make observations and collect data directly from digital maps, in this case while learning about fluvial systems. The lab is designed to introduce student to the power and usefulness of freely available software and data found on the internet.
Designed for a geomorphology course

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students should be able to retrieve and work with any USGS topographic map of the US.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

These are listed in the exercise.