Understanding Contouring

8 modules


Course Length
17 hours

Edumine Courses

07 Nov 2019



Contouring of irregular spatial data by hand has been used by geoscientists for many decades. Contouring using a computer is relatively new and has become more widely used in the earth sciences only in the last 20 years. The availability of inexpensive microcomputer hardware and software makes the use of a computer for contouring affordable for nearly everyone.

Gridding and contouring software has become flexible enough to satisfy nearly all needs for contouring with speed and convenience. Computer contouring is not perfect, so it is necessary to constantly be on guard and check results for artifacts and make sure the contour results are representative of the data. This course will help build awareness of what to watch for when using each contour method, when a method is most suitable, and when it is not.

Since the early 1980's, we have experienced a significant increase in access to computer programs for contouring, as well as a large variety of computer algorithms. Books have been written about the algorithms and how they are used. The purpose of this course is to pull together information on the most commonly used contouring algorithms and reveal the 'secrets' of how and why they are used. These 'secrets' are not really secrets, but to find all this information you have to dig through many books, use the algorithms (hundreds of times) and observe results. We have explored all these resources for you and present the findings in this course.

Hand contouring is still done by some people, and the first section of the course covers hand contouring methods, when to use them, and the pitfalls to avoid. Understanding hand contouring is a first step to using contour software effectively.


  • Betty L. Gibbs
  • Dr. Stephen A. Krajewski


Duration 17 Hours
Access 90 Days
Category Exploration
Level Specialize
Version Date January 18, 2010


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Course Content

The course is presented in four parts ...

  • Part 1: Introduction to Contouring, Triangulation and Gridding

  • Part 2: Gridding Algorithms

  • Part 3: Gridding Results and Computer Mapping

  • Part 4: Appendices

The course comprises 17 learning sessions of 30 - 60 minutes each, supported by images, figures, tables, and appendices, plus three reviews of multiple choice questions. Estimated course duration is equivalent to approximately 17 hours of learning content.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and discuss different contour methods.

  • Recognize whether or not contour results are representative of a data set.

  • Choose the most suitable contour method and parameters for a particular data set.

Recommended Background

  • High school science.

  • Familiarity with maps and contours.

  • Observant disposition and eye for detail.


By completing/passing this course, you will attain the certificate Edumine Certification

Learning Credits

Table of Contents
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Module 1: Introduction to Contouring, Triangulation and Gridding
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Knowledge Check - Module 1: Introduction to Contouring, Triangulation and Gridding
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Module 2: Gridding Algorithms
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Knowledge Check - Module 2: Gridding Algorithms
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Module 3: Gridding Results and Computer Mapping
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Knowledge Check - Module 3: Gridding Results and Computer Mapping
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Module 4: Appendices
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