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Maps and Soils Surveys

Soils Online Study Guide

Maps and Soils Surveys

Soil Surveys

The general soil map in this publication shows broad areas that have a distinctive pattern of soils, relief, and drainage. Each map unit on the general soil map is a unique natural landscape. Typically, it consists of one or more major soils or miscellaneous areas and some minor soils or miscellaneous areas. named for the major soils or miscellaneous areas. The soils or miscellaneous areas making up one unit can occur in another but in a different pattern. The general soil   map can be used to compare the suitability of large areas for general land uses. Areas of suitable soils or miscellaneous areas can be identified on the map. Likewise, areas that are not suitable can be identified. Because of its small scale, the map is not suitable for planning the management of a farm or field or for selecting a site for a road or building or other structure. The soils in any one map unit differ from place to place slope, depth, drainage, and other characteristics that affect management.

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How to Use a Soil Survey (292 KB) 

Topographic Maps

Whether on paper or on a computer screen, a map is the best tool available to catalog and view the arrangement of things on the Earth's surface. Maps of various kinds—road maps, political maps, land use maps, maps of the world—serve many different purposes.

One of the most widely used of all maps is the topographic map. The feature that most distinguishes topographic maps from maps of other types is the use of contour lines to portray the shape and elevation of the land. Topographic maps render the three-dimensional ups and downs of the terrain on a two-dimensional surface.

Topographic maps usually portray both natural and manmade features. They show and name works of nature including mountains, valleys, plains, lakes, rivers, and vegetation. They also identify the principal works of man, such as roads, boundaries, transmission lines, and major buildings.

The wide range of information provided by topographic maps make them extremely useful to professional and recreational map users alike. Topographic maps are used for engineering, energy exploration, natural resource conservation, environmental management, public works design, commercial and residential planning, and outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and fishing.

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How to Read a Topographic Map (454 KB) 


For more information contact your local Soil Conservation District Office or Richard Belcher, NJ Envirothon Coordinator Phone: (609) 292-5540,  Fax: (609) 633-7229.

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This page last updated January 30, 2013