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What are the Characteristics of Contours?

Contours show distinct characteristic features of the terrain as follows:

i) All points on a contour line are of the same elevation.

ii) No two contour lines can meet or cross each other except in the rare case of an overhanging vertical cliff or wall
iii) Closely spaced contour lines indicate steep slope

iv) Widely spaced contour lines indicate gentle slope

v) Equally spaced contour lines indicate uniform slope

vi) Closed contour lines with higher elevation towards the centre indicate hills

vii) Closed contour lines with reducing levels towards the centre indicate pond or other depression.

viii) Contour lines of ridge show higher elevation within the loop of the contours. Contour lines cross ridge at right angles.


ix) Contour lines of valley show reducing elevation within the loop of the contours. Contour lines cross valley at right angles.

x) All contour lines must close either within the map boundary or outside.

We at are thankful to Mr Ramasesh Iyer for submitting this useful information to us.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

If you have a query, you can ask a question here.

12 comments on "What are the Characteristics of Contours?"

sipho banda says:

thanks for the data, it has helped me a lot during my assignment.

maxwell okpanachi says:

i love it.

chris jeff says:

you really are helpfully u guys thanks allot…

Agal says:

at last u r successful in making me understand about contours, in which my professors failed.. thank u

Abdullah says:

Found very helpful Thanks a lot

Sanjib says:

Good that the answers are pointwise. . .

Vimal says:

Perfectly explained

seda Achila says:

Its real,thank you sir for the data

seda Achila says:

thanks for the data

pascal says:


tms says:

Can two contour lines of same elevation ever cross each other? I understand that they can unite or two lines of different elevations crossing each other in case of an overhang; please clarify in case of the same elevation. thank you

Shi Fau says:

So simplified, self explanatory and understable features.
Thanks for this

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