The tall and thin of it...

22 August 2003

What are topographic maps? Flat, smooth and 2-dimensionsal - yet they represent landscapes which are made up of irregular shapes, including tall, thin man-made structures like communication towers, industry chimneys and wind farms. Geoscience Australia's Rachelle Nevin faces the tough job of making sure all of these features and more are put on the map!

"Topographic maps show information about an irregular world on a flat piece of paper," says Rachelle. "We get the outline, height and contour of the landscape from satellite imagery and then add other important information over the top of it. These maps are then used by all sorts of people including bushwalkers, town planners and farmers."

"My job is to make sure that tall structures are added to the maps. Vertical obstructions are included on maps for many reasons, for example as a guide for people who are trying to navigate in unknown terrain," adds Rachelle. "Most of my time is spent talking with people from local councils, companies and land users, to collect information about where these structures are located so that I can plot them on our maps."

Rachelle is part of a team of 15 dedicated people who all work on topographic maps. "We add layer-upon-layer of information to the maps including location of roads, rivers, waterways, helipads, runways and railways. We also add information about the land including use and ownership."

"We've been working to complete the last of the 1:250 000 scale topographic map series," she adds. "Each map takes between two and four weeks to complete and in September this year, there will be a launch to promote the completion of all 513 maps covering Australia."

To hear more about Geoscience Australia's work, come and visit us on Open Day, 10am to 4pm on Sunday 24 August, when we celebrate National Science Week.

Activities will include science demonstrations, volcanic eruptions, gold panning and rock story telling. Bring in your pet rock and have it identified by Geoscience Australia's experts, join one of the geothermal heating tours of the building or enjoy our science stories.

Geoscience Australia is located at the corner of Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive, Symonston.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013