Mono Lake North Geomorphic Mapping

Sarah R. Hall, College of the Atlantic

Calla Schimdt, University of San Francisco

Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College

Initial Publication Date: August 31, 2020 | Reviewed: March 12, 2023


In this activity students observe Mono Lake North in the field and via remote imagery to identify fluvial geomorphic features. With these observations and data collected in the field students create annotated geomorphic maps, determine relative ages of fluvial terraces, interpret geomorphic development of the stream, and synthesize information to identify the relation between vegetation, geology and geomorphic features.

This activity is part of the Mono North Synthesis Project in conjunction with the following activities.

Mono Lake Paleoshoreline Mapping Transect Mapping

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Students will...

  • Use field observations and remote imagery to identify fluvial geomorphic features (stream reaches and terraces) and create an annotated geomorphic map of these features.
  • Apply relative dating techniques to determine the relative ages of fluvial terraces.
  • Measure stream and terrace offsets and use these data to interpret the geomorphic development of the stream in the area.
  • Evaluate the relatedness between vegetation, geology (soils), and geomorphic features.

Context for Use


This activity was completed during the 2-week summer E-STEM Field Course with ~20 undergraduate students interested in environmental science.

How the Activity is Situated in the Course:

This activity follows an overview of Mono Basin and viewing shoreline features from a distance and is run simultaneously with the Mono Lake Paleoshoreline Mapping and Botanical Transects. Each ~2-3 hour activity was run as a station that students rotated through throughout the day. The order does not matter. The field notes from this activity will be used to compare paleoshoreline stratigraphy with modern shoreline stratigraphy. Additionally, this activity follows an Overview of Mono Basin. View the E-STEM field course timeline for more information about how it is situated in the course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Student Handout

Mono Lake Mapping Handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 18kB Jun27 20)

The necessary materials:

  • Printed base map (topographic and aerial image) MonoNorthMaps.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 8.9MB Jun15 20)
  • Tracing paper
  • GPS (optional)
  • Colored pencils
  • Hand lens
  • Pencil/eraser
  • Mapboard
  • Rulers
  • Measuring tape
  • Compass
  • Stadia rod/transit


  • Assess the field notes, the data table, and the written interpretation with the rubric for the Field Notes Badge.
  • Assess the channel reach and terrace map using the rubric for the Mapping Badge.