Maps and Mapping

Compiled by Monica Bruckner at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton College.

The following visualizations involve maps and mapping. Visualizations include maps and online and downloadable software to create customized maps. We also have additional structural geology visualization collections

Jump to: Customizable Maps | Maps for Specific Locations | Planetary Geology Maps

Understanding Maps

Visualizing Topography (more info) This interactive tutorial is designed to help students learn about contour maps and how to visualize three-dimensional topography from topographic maps. The tutorial uses interactive Quick Time movies to show features such as contour lines draped over a 3-D terrain, topographic profiles, and shaded relief. There are questions that go along with the activity.

Why Some Students Have Trouble with Maps and Spatial Representations: An On-line Tutorial for Geoscience Faculty (more info) This resource can assist college faculty in teaching effective use of maps and spatial representations. The site consists of a self-guided, interactive tutorial that leads Geoscience Faculty through issues and considerations about spatial thinking. The tutorial is designed to capture some of the results of cognitive studies of spatial thinking and cast them into terms that are relevant and accessible to geoscience educators.

Customizable Maps

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Gulf Coast Geology Online Interactive Mapping System (more info) This interactive mapping system is one component of the U. S. Geological Survey's Framework Studies and Assessment of the Gulf Coast Project. This project provides the geologic, geophysical, and geochemical framework for the region. The mapping system displays different aspects of the energy resources which reside in the Gulf of Mexico Basin, one of the major hydrocarbon producing areas of the world.

Jules Map Server ( This site may be offline. ) This site offers map tools to better visualize geophysical and geological processes and structures. Jules Verne Voyager is an interactive map tool for virtual exploration of Earth and other worlds (e.g. Mars, Jupiter and their moons); with custom map creation and fully interactive pan and zoom and extensive image selection. An ILP Global Strain Rate Map displays the latest global model of strain in the Earth's crust. Voyager Junior is designed for more casual browsing of Earth. It is usually faster, with pre-set pan and zoom using pre-made Voyager images.

Interactive Mapping and Data Analysis (more info) This site provides direct access to digital data sets using a web-based application tool. The main goal is to develop an information system for the entire globe, however, there are regions of special interest, such as the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States, where more detailed data sets can be found. Data covering geography, geology, geophyscis, images, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are offered via the Geoscience Interactive Database tool developed by the Institute for the Study of the Continents (INSTOC) and the Department of Geological Sciences at Cornell University.

Structural Geology Mapping/GIS Software (more info) This site contains Stereographic Projection and Rose Diagram plotting packages (GEOrient); a structural and drillhole calculator (GeoCalculator); strain, and shear zone calculators; geological field database information; and Geographic Information Systems (Mapinfo) software for plotting structural symbols on maps (GeoMapSymbol; previously GeoSymbol). There are also several animations for teaching structural geology.

Maps for Specific Locations

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Devil's Tower, Wyoming (more info) This page includes topographical maps of Devil's Tower and the surrounding area, as well as photographs of the tower, the local stratigraphy and geology of the region.

Geologic Map of Alaska (more info) This resource contains a generalized geologic map of Alaska provided by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West (more info) This is a collection of panoramic maps from the American West, including parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. The images were created from numerical elevation data and linear data sets. The map views are made from high simulated elevations, usually between 25 and 100 kilometers above sea level. Most encompass areas containing thousands of square miles. Looking down on the land from a high place gives fresh perspectives and new appreciation for a country's otherwise unseen geography. These images would be useful for researchers, educators or students interested in the geography, landscapes and landmarks of the Western states.

The Canadian Cordillera (more info) The terranes and tectonic elements of Northwestern North America. Numerous maps, cross-sections, diagrams, notes, and annotated references. Compiled by W. R. Church, Western Ontario University.

Planetary Geology Maps

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USGS Mars Geologic Maps in Progress (more info) This USGS Astrogeology website features a status report of the creation of Mars geologic maps at different scales. The site lists general information about each map and provides users with the option to download a PDF version for some maps (e.g. Pavonis Mons). There are also links to a Mars mapping chart, an index of maps from the solar system, and information regarding ordering maps.

NASA Planetary Data System Map-A-Planet (more info) This site provides a useful way to view and download image data from the Moon, Mars, Venus, Io, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.