Sit. Rep. #158: Terrain Features – II, Minor Features

1- Here are 4 minor terrain features that will aid you in reading a topographic map.

  1. Draw, Re-entrant, Gully
  2. Spur
  3. Cliff, Bluff, Escarpment, Scarp or Scarp Face
  4. Mesa, Table or Tableland, Plateau, Butte

1.1 Draw is very similar to a valley,  It has high ground on 3 sides and runs downhill on the 4th side.  But the draw runs perpendicular to a ridge or ridgeline instead of parallel to the ridgeline like a valley.  Two opposite sides of the draw are spurs.  The third high ground (connecting the two spurs) side is the ridgeline.

1.2 Spurs run parallel to draws.  They have 1 side uphill toward the ridgeline and 3 sides downhill.  Two of the downhill sides are parallel to each other and the third downhill side is toward the valley.  You may think of a spur as a ridgeline between 2 draws.

1.3 Cliff is a sudden drop-off.  The drop-off is vertical or near-vertical.  The elevation lines converge or are extremely close together.  Bluff is often the term used when a cliff ends in a body of water.  Escarpment refers to the bottom of the cliff.  Scarp or Scarp Face means the face of the cliff.

  • Scree, Mine Tailings, Galcier Till, Talus, or a Wash area are usually represented by dots (or labeled) on a topo map but the actual terrain and soil may be more similar to a Fill.

1.4 Mesa looks like a mountain top that is sheared off flat.  Mesas are the middle size between the larger plateaus and the much smaller buttes.  Mesas here in the US are mostly out west where the sides have steep dropoffs.  A butte is taller than wide.  Mesas and plateaus are the opposite.  Mesas and plateaus are wider than tall.  Be aware that there will be minor undulations on top of all of these.

U: What map feature is round on both ends and high in the middle?
V: Ohio.
W: What stays in the corner and goes around the world?
X: A postage stamp.

Semper Paratus,

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