5.2: North American Landforms

What landforms cover North America’s surface?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, North American Landforms, and explore the map.

Step 2: Click on the link in the upper-right corner, Modify Map.

Step 3: With the Details button underlined, click the button, Show Contents of Map (Content).

Step 4: Turn on the layer, Landform Marker, so that the Edit button appears on top.

Step 5: Click the Edit button and then click the Landuse Marker.

Step 6: Click and drag the cursor around the North American map to “sketch” similar continuous regions, based solely on their appearance. If necessary, zoom in to see more details.

Step 7: Annotate and close each pop-up window. Try to draw unique regions for mountain ranges and plains along the coasts and the Midwest.

Step 8: Stop drawing by clicking the Edit button again.

Step 9: Click the Details button.

Is there more to landforms than texture?

Step 10: Turn off the layer, World Shaded Relief, and turn on the layer, North American Landforms.

Step 11: Click the Basemap button and select Topographic.

  • What color is used to show the plains?

Step 12: Click several places across the plains.

  • What types of plains are there?
  • How do you think the plains along the Gulf Coast are different from the mid-continent plains?

What does the elevation have to do with it?

Step 13: Click the button, About. Click the Open Presentation link and view the presentation in a new tab. Go through the presentation slides.

Step 14: Close the tab that has the presentation and return to the online map.

Would a bay by another name, sound the same?

Step 15: Turn off all of the layers.

Step 16: Change the basemap to Imagery.

Step 17: Click on each bookmark. Identify and differentiate among the various types of landforms, as listed below.

  • Coastal features
  • Freshwater regions
  • Ocean bodies
  • River-formed landforms
  • High elevation terrains
  • Large ice features

What landforms do you have around where you live?

Step 18: Search for any of the landform types found in your local area. Use the Find Address Or Place search tool?

  • Explain what the selected landform is and how it differs from similar features listed in Step 17.

The following video is not required for the assignment, but very interesting.


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World Regional Geography Lab Manual by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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