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California Earthquake Activity

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This is my lab partners and I final map project for the semester. We choice to create a map on earthquake activity in California for the month of November, 2012 and only show magnitudes of 2.5- 4.0. The main map has the legend and population density in relation to where the earthquakes occurred. We also have the San Andreas Fault line in there. The two smaller maps on the bottom show magnitudes level and depths of the earthquakes. I added a world map on the left to show the tectonic plates because in our presentation I wanted to describe why earthquakes occur and why they occur more in certain areas.

I would love some feedback on what you guys think. Through out the semester we had labs that we made small quick maps and basically learned the different functions of ArcMap 10.1. This is our own map we made by finding all the data ourselves and and creating it. Thanks!

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I make legends.

I make legends.


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Gentle or rough? :)

Hans van der Maarel

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Not a bad start, but I'm getting an overall cluttered look. I think there's some room for improvement.

  • Your north arrow isn't pointing north.
  • Lose the US/Mexico/Ocean background legend items. Your map users will figure that out on their own just fine.
  • The population density legend is very prominent, pretty much the first thing that I noticed, yet in the map it's hardly visible. I take it you've only done that on the urban areas? I think you can stand to lose that and just show those areas with a single color.
  • In your main map, earthquakes are shown underneath the plate boundaries, yet in the other two maps it's the other way around. I'd suggest showing them on top of the plate boundaries on all 3 maps, but whatever you do, be consistent about it.
  • Volcanoes seem to be underneath the National Parks & Forests. Put them on top (in broad terms, from top to bottom the layer order should be text, point, line, area)
  • Why the distinction between National Park and National Forest? The colors are very similar so it's hard to tell them apart.
  • Text placement could be improved here and there. Did you manually edit the text labels at all? On the smaller maps, the label for Oregon is entirely outside of Oregon (yet there is room enough to place it inside the state). Also, if you're labelling the states and the ocean on the large map, there's no need to repeat that on the 2 smaller maps.
  • Either show some more interstate numbers (except I-84, that doesn't add anything to the map), or none at all.

Hope this helps. I know this may come across as a big list of criticism, but mainly it's small things that can reduce the clutter and help you communicate the message better.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics




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Some really great advice there.  I have not formally studied cartography, but find myself making maps everyday in my work and adore it.


The points made above form a few of what could be a great list of "Dos and Don'ts" for map production.  Would you know a good source for such a check list that one could go through whenever making a map?


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