Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hillshades of New York State

I've always been fascinated with maps. At some point in my teenage life I thought it would be amazing to be a cartographer.  I do make a lot of maps for my research, and it's one of my favourite things to work on. I've been spending a lot of time lately working with DEMs (digital elevation models) and using them to create hillshades, like the one below. 

New York State is a great place to study glacial morphology, and this hillshade, which shows a bit of Lake Ontario at the top, all of Seneca Lake (bottom center) and some of Cayuga Lake (bottom right), is a great example of why. 

Just south of Lake Ontario there are many tiny hills. These are drumlins, remnants of the last glacial period in the area. The Finger Lakes (of which Seneca and Cayuga Lakes are the largest) are deeply carved valleys that filled with water when they were dammed by terminal moraines of the Pleistocene Glaciation.  At the far southern end of the map, the terrain becomes more rugged. This is the northern extent of the Allegheny Plateau.

For more posts about drumlins, check out Evelyn's Geology Word of the Week, where she writes about Drumlins and posts links to other posts.

The other thing that is great about studying in New York State is the availability of geospatial data for the state. Cornell University, through its CUGIR site, offers "open and free access to geospatial data and metadata for New York State."  This was immensely helpful for the geomorphology project I wrote about yesterday, and for preparing resources for the sed/strat field trips I've been TAing this semester.

Hillshade of the Seneca Lake region in central New York State

* This post is part of a personal challenge I've made to spend 30 minutes a day on my blog. For this week, I'm trying to get out short posts every day. 


  1. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog. I'm an SU grad also and miss the fantastic geology that CNY has to offer. Keep up the good work! With regards, Doctor Jack from