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> Shaded Relief Map of Iowa


Red ball icon Shaded Relief Map of Iowa

by James D. Giglierano


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This striking view of Iowa’s land surface is the product of a computer-generated model of elevations, illuminated by an artificial sun elevated 45 degrees above the northwest horizon, with colors applied to the elevation ranges.  The lowest elevations are in blue, and the state’s lowest point of 480 feet occurs where the Des Moines River enters the Mississippi in southern Lee County.  Elevation increases with green, yellow, orange, and red colors.  The highest elevation is in Osceola County in northwest Iowa at 1,670 feet.  A prominent ridge curving from Osceola County south to Union County represents the drainage divide between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.   The relief revealed on this map depicts a landscape that was shaped by water, wind, and ice.

While this computer-generated, shaded-relief model may exaggerate the topography somewhat, it clearly shows that Iowa is far from being a flat, featureless plain. The map illustrates an intriguing variety of terrain features and elevations across our state.

 

Adapted from Iowa Geology 1999, Iowa Department of Natural Resources