topography (təpŏgˈrəfē) [key], description or representation of the features and configuration of land surfaces. Topographic maps use symbols and coloring, with particular attention given to the shape and elevations of terrain. Relief is portrayed by means of contour lines, hachures, shading, or coloring to represent elevations, depressions, and depths of water; natural and human-made features, such as rivers, forests, urbanized areas, bridges, roads, and power lines, are indicated by symbols and color overlays. Topography is often used incorrectly as a synonym for relief ; the submarine analogue is bathymetry.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.