What Is a Large-Scale Map?

Save
What Is a Large-Scale Map?
What Is a Large-Scale Map? (Image: CTA City Map, Steven Vance, Flickr.com)

Cartographers represent geography in many ways. Maps are often described as being either large or small scale, depending on their level of detail. Large-scale maps represent an area in higher detail; thus, the map may be more detailed, but cover a smaller area.

Scale

Cartographers use scale to represent the level of detail in a map. It is a ratio level of measurement that indicates how a particular map unit (inch, centimeter, etc.) corresponds to a geographic measurement of distance (such as a mile, kilometer, meter, etc.). On a map drawn with a scale of 1:24,000, for example, 1 inch equals 24,000 inches "on the ground."

Ways of Representation

There are multiple methods of measuring a map. The most common include map ratio (1 inch equals 1 mile), scale bar (graphic line with tic marks) and relative ratio (1:24,000). Each of these methods depend on the purpose of the map and its potential for reproduction. For example, if you want to enlarge a map, you would use scale or relative ratio as the distance from point A to point B will remain constant.

Level of Detail

The level of detail in a large-scale map reveals more particularities of a given area. This is important when a higher precision level is required. For example, when looking at an urban environment, such as a street level or address level scene, issues such as center-line from the street or distance from one house to another may be more relevant at a scale of (in map ratio terms) 1 inch equals 100 feet than it does at 1 inch equals 5 miles. Thus, the purpose of the map will determine the level of detail.

Required Tools

To make a large-scale map, you can use satellite data (GPS points), surveys (obtained from your local municipal office or USGS), or a compass. Geologists, for example, have a surprisingly precise method of knowing the distance of each pace that they step, which enables them to estimate the distance from point Y to point Z. Many of the original surveys of the United States were performed using such a methodology. Coupled with a knowledge of surveying, this process provided a cartographic knowledge of the United States. Once you have this basic knowledge, creating a large scale map can be done.

Places to Contact

Your local USGS, library, office of urban planning or local hiking trail services have many large-scale maps. These organizations are helpful and knowledgeable in discerning what level of detail you are looking for.

Related Searches

References

Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Travel For Free With Reward Points

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!