As you drive around Wisconsin, you may notice differences in the landscape from place to place. In the southwestern part of the
state, you’ll drive across broad uplands and through narrow valleys. In the central part of the state, you'll experience what appears to be almost
unremitting flatness. And in part of southeastern Wisconsin, you'll see large numbers of small, elongated hills. What you can’t easily see is what
makes all this diversity possible. A new map from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey depicts the terrain of Wisconsin, stripped of
vegetation and most human influences, and shows what lies beneath what you see out your car window.
This map, entitled Landscapes of Wisconsin, shows the elevation of Wisconsin through the use of color and shaded relief; the relief gives
the map an almost three-dimensional, textural feel by simulating the appearance of sunlight and shadow. Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
staff developed the map from available digital information about elevation derived from the U.S. Geological Survey topographic quadrangle maps.
At first glance, this map resembles another map that the Survey and several sister agencies produced two years ago, Wisconsin Land Cover.
Because that map was based on satellite imagery, it serves as a sort of snapshot of Wisconsin from above, showing forests, wetlands, and urban and
agricultural areas. Basing a map on digital elevation data shows the geologic underpinnings that help make the various types of land cover possible;
this makes Landscapes of Wisconsin a wonderful companion piece to the land cover map. The new map makes it easy for nongeologists to see immediately
the differences in the landscape in various parts of the state. For example, only a cursory glance is needed to see that southwestern Wisconsin looks
very different from the rest of the state.
For those who wish to delve more deeply into why different parts of the state look the way they do, the map also includes brief explanatory text about
the geologic history of the state as well as more detailed information about twelve of the most prominent landscape features that can be seen on the map.
The Blue Hills, Blue Mounds, Kettle Moraine, the drumlin field of southeastern Wisconsin, and the Baraboo Hills are just some of the features discussed.
The full-color map is 42 inches by 42 inches, and it has been published at a scale of 1:500,000, the same scale as Wisconsin Land Cover as well as many other maps of Wisconsin published previously by the Survey and other agencies. This allows these maps to be easily used side by side and compared.
The map is priced at $20 from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, 3817 Mineral Point Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-5100; telephone 608/263.7389. Shipping costs are extra. MasterCard and Visa customers may telephone their orders (608/263.7389) between the hours of 8 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Download an order form (PDF).