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Fall Line

The Fall Line refers to the boundary zone where an upland region meets a coastal plain or lowland region. This transition zone is characterized by a sudden drop in elevation, where rivers and streams cascading down the uplands encounter a steep decline in gradient. This steep drop in elevation creates a natural boundary between different geologic provinces, and has historically served as a navigational landmark for early settlers and traders. The Fall Line is also significant for its hydrological and ecological importance, as it marks the limit of upstream migration for many fish species.


A fault is a break or fracture in the earth’s crust, along which blocks of rock on either side have moved relative to each other. Faults can range in size from small cracks to massive tectonic plates that span hundreds of kilometers. Movement along a fault can cause earthquakes, as the sudden release of accumulated strain energy causes vibrations that propagate through the surrounding rock. The type of movement along a fault can be vertical, horizontal, or oblique, and can have a profound impact on the topography and landscape of an area.

Feature Displacement

Feature displacement refers to the movement of a landform or feature due to geological processes. This displacement can occur as a result of tectonic activity, such as faulting or folding, or as a result of erosion and sedimentation. For example, a river may meander and shift its course over time, causing the displacement of adjacent floodplains and the formation of new features. Similarly, glaciers can carve out valleys and alter the landscape, creating unique topographical features such as fjords and cirques.

Feature Elevation

Feature elevation refers to the height of a specific topographical feature above a reference point, typically sea level. Elevation can vary widely depending on the location and type of feature, from the highest peaks of mountain ranges to the deepest ocean trenches. Understanding the elevation of different features is important for a wide range of applications, from mapping and navigation to geologic and environmental research. Elevation data can be gathered through a variety of methods, including ground-based surveys, remote sensing techniques, and satellite imagery.


A feature is a distinctive or prominent aspect of the Earth’s surface, such as a hill, valley, or river. Features can vary in size, shape, and location, and are often used as reference points in geographic and topographic mapping. Features can be natural or man-made, and can be classified based on their morphology or formation process.


A fell is a high and barren landscape feature that is typically found in upland regions, such as in the northern United Kingdom. Fells are characterized by steep, rocky slopes and a lack of vegetation, and are often the result of glacial erosion or tectonic activity. Fells can be challenging to navigate and can pose significant risks to hikers and climbers due to their rugged terrain and exposure to the elements.

Field Notes

Field notes are a record of observations made during a field survey or other outdoor activity. Field notes typically include detailed descriptions of features, measurements, and other relevant data, and are used to create accurate maps and other geographic products. Field notes can be recorded on paper or electronically, and may be supplemented with photographs, sketches, or other visual aids.

Field Survey

A field survey is a method of gathering information about the Earth’s surface by physically visiting and observing specific locations. Field surveys can include a wide range of techniques, such as ground-based measurements, remote sensing, and sampling, and can be used to collect data on a variety of features, including topography, vegetation, and geology. Field surveys are often used in conjunction with other methods, such as aerial photography and satellite imagery, to create detailed maps and other geographic products. Field surveys are an important tool for scientific research, environmental management, and land-use planning.


Filling refers to the process of adding material to a depression or low-lying area in order to raise its elevation. This process is often used in construction projects to create a level surface for building or to prevent flooding. Filling can be done with a variety of materials, including soil, sand, gravel, or even waste materials such as concrete and asphalt. The process of filling can have a significant impact on the surrounding landscape, as it can alter the natural drainage patterns of an area and change the character of the soil.

Fine-grained soil

Fine-grained soil refers to soil that is composed of particles that are smaller than 0.002 mm in diameter. This includes silt and clay, which are typically found in areas with low-energy water or wind movement, such as floodplains and deltas. Fine-grained soils have unique properties that can affect their behavior, including their water-holding capacity, permeability, and strength. They can also be difficult to work with, as they tend to be cohesive and prone to retaining moisture.

Finger Lake

A finger lake is a long, narrow, and deep lake that is typically found in areas with glacial activity. Finger lakes are characterized by their distinctive shape, which resembles the fingers of a hand. They are formed when a glacier carves out a deep valley and then retreats, leaving behind a long and narrow depression that fills with water. Finger lakes are important features of the landscape, providing a source of drinking water, recreational opportunities, and ecological habitat.

Finish Floor Elevation

Finish floor elevation refers to the height of the floor of a finished building above a reference point, typically the surrounding ground level. This measurement is important in construction and building design, as it determines the level at which the interior spaces of the building will be situated. Finish floor elevation can also have an impact on the building’s accessibility, as it affects the height of stairs, doorways, and other features. Properly determining finish floor elevation is essential for creating safe and functional buildings that meet the needs of their occupants.

Finish Grade

Finish grade refers to the final elevation and contour of the ground surface after construction or grading work has been completed. Finish grade is determined by surveying and leveling the ground to meet specific design requirements, such as providing adequate drainage and ensuring accessibility. Finish grade can also be used to create a smooth and level surface for landscaping or other purposes. Achieving the correct finish grade is critical for ensuring the safety and functionality of built environments.

First-Order Survey

A first-order survey is a type of geodetic survey that is used to establish highly accurate reference points for mapping and other geographic applications. First-order surveys typically involve the use of precise instrumentation and techniques, such as triangulation and trilateration, to measure distances and angles between reference points. These surveys are typically conducted over long distances and can require significant resources and expertise. The resulting data from first-order surveys is used to create accurate maps and other geographic products, and can also be used to inform important decisions related to land use, infrastructure development, and natural resource management.


A fissure is a narrow crack or opening in the Earth’s surface that is often associated with tectonic activity or volcanic processes. Fissures can vary in size and shape, and can be found in a variety of settings, including deserts, mountains, and oceanic ridges. Fissures can also occur as a result of human activity, such as mining or excavation. Fissures can have significant impacts on the landscape, as they can alter the flow of water, gases, and other materials, and can provide access to underground resources. Fissures can also pose risks to human safety, as they can be unstable and difficult to navigate.


A fjord is a long and narrow inlet of the sea that is typically surrounded by steep cliffs or mountains. Fjords are formed when glaciers carve out deep valleys that are then filled with water as the ice retreats. Fjords are unique features of the landscape and are known for their stunning beauty and ecological diversity. Fjords provide important habitats for a variety of plant and animal species and are also popular destinations for outdoor recreation, such as boating, fishing, and hiking.


A floodplain is a low-lying area of land adjacent to a river or stream that is subject to periodic flooding. Floodplains are formed by the natural processes of erosion and sedimentation, which can result in the deposition of nutrient-rich soils and the creation of diverse wetland habitats. Floodplains can be important agricultural and residential areas, but they can also pose risks to human safety and property. Proper management of floodplains is essential for balancing the benefits and risks associated with these dynamic environments.


Flora refers to the plant life that is found in a particular region or ecosystem. Flora can vary widely depending on factors such as climate, soil type, and elevation. Understanding the flora of an area is important for a variety of reasons, including conservation, agriculture, and forestry. Flora can also provide important indicators of environmental change, such as shifts in climate or the introduction of invasive species. Studying flora is an important part of many scientific disciplines, including botany, ecology, and environmental science.

Flow Direction

Flow direction refers to the direction in which water or other fluids move in a particular environment, such as a river or groundwater system. Understanding flow direction is important for a variety of applications, such as predicting the movement of pollutants, designing drainage systems, and managing water resources. Flow direction can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as topography, soil type, and climate. Accurately determining flow direction requires the use of specialized equipment and techniques, such as tracer studies and computer modeling.


Foggage refers to the dense, coarse grasses that grow in wetland environments, such as marshes or floodplains. These grasses are adapted to withstand frequent flooding and are an important component of wetland ecosystems. Foggage can be used for a variety of purposes, such as erosion control, livestock feed, and bioenergy production. However, overgrazing and other forms of human activity can have negative impacts on the health and diversity of foggage and wetland habitats.


A fold is a bend or curve in rock layers that is caused by tectonic activity or other geological processes. Folds can vary widely in size and shape, from small ripples to massive mountain ranges. Folds are important features of the landscape, as they can provide important information about the history and structure of the Earth’s crust. Folds can also have significant impacts on human activity, as they can affect the location and accessibility of mineral resources, and can influence the stability of structures and infrastructure.


Foliation refers to the layering or parallel alignment of minerals in rock formations. Foliation is often the result of tectonic activity or metamorphic processes, and can provide important information about the history and formation of rocks. Foliation can also have important practical applications, such as identifying the orientation and stability of rock formations in construction and engineering projects.


A footprint refers to the impression left by a person or animal’s foot on the ground or other surface. Footprints can provide important clues about the identity, behavior, and movement of individuals, and are often used in forensic investigations and wildlife tracking. Footprints can also have cultural and symbolic significance, and are often used in art and storytelling. Understanding footprints is an important part of many scientific disciplines, such as biology, anthropology, and ecology.

Footprint Maps

Footprint maps are a type of topographic map that show the distribution of footprints or other signs of animal activity in a particular area. Footprint maps can be used to study the behavior and movement patterns of wildlife, as well as to identify and monitor endangered species. Footprint maps can also provide important information about the health and diversity of ecosystems, and can be used to guide conservation and management efforts.


Footwall refers to the lower, or foot, side of a geological fault. The footwall is the block of rock that is displaced upwards relative to the other block during a faulting event. The footwall is an important feature of geological structures, as it can have significant impacts on the location and accessibility of mineral resources, as well as on the stability of structures and infrastructure.


A foreland is a region of relatively low relief that lies between a mountain range and an adjacent basin or plain. Forelands are often formed by the accumulation of sediment that is eroded from the mountains and deposited in the adjacent lowlands. Forelands can have important ecological and economic significance, as they can support a variety of habitats and natural resources, such as forests, grasslands, and waterways.

Foreland Basin

A foreland basin is a type of sedimentary basin that forms between a mountain range and a continental craton. Foreland basins are typically elongated in shape and can be several kilometers wide and hundreds of kilometers long. Foreland basins are formed by the flexure and subsidence of the continental crust in response to the weight of the mountain range. Foreland basins can have important geological and economic significance, as they can contain significant reserves of oil, gas, and mineral resources.


A forest is a large area of land covered predominantly by trees and underbrush. Forests can be found all over the world, and they are an important natural resource. Forests play a vital role in regulating the earth’s climate, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass. Forests also provide habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species, and they are important sources of timber, fuel, and other resources.


A fossil is the preserved remains or traces of an organism that lived in the distant past. Fossils can be found in rocks, sediment, and other geological formations, and they provide valuable insights into the evolution and history of life on Earth. Fossils can include bones, teeth, shells, and other hard parts of animals, as well as impressions or tracks left behind by plants or animals.


A fracture is a break or crack in a solid material, such as a rock or a bone. Fractures can occur as a result of stress or pressure, and they can have important implications for the strength and stability of structures and materials. Fractures can also be important geological features, as they can provide pathways for fluids or minerals to move through rock formations.

Freeze-thaw Cycle

The freeze-thaw cycle is a natural process that occurs when water freezes and thaws repeatedly in a particular location. This process is common in colder climates, where water can freeze and thaw multiple times during the winter months. The freeze-thaw cycle can have significant impacts on the landscape, as it can cause rocks to break apart and soil to shift and erode. The freeze-thaw cycle can also have important implications for the durability and stability of infrastructure, such as roads, buildings, and bridges.

Frequency Distribution

A frequency distribution is a statistical tool used to analyze data and describe the distribution of values within a particular dataset. In a frequency distribution, the values of a variable are divided into categories or bins, and the number of observations falling into each category is counted. The resulting distribution can be displayed graphically using a histogram, which shows the relative frequency of values within each category.


A frontier is a boundary or border that separates two different regions or territories. In a topographical context, a frontier can refer to the boundary between two different landforms, such as a mountain range and a plain. The concept of a frontier has historically been important in geography and exploration, as it represents the edge of known territory and the boundary of human knowledge and understanding.

Frost Action

Frost action is a geological process that occurs when water freezes and expands in the pores and cracks of rock or soil. This expansion can cause the rock or soil to fracture or break apart, leading to the formation of characteristic landforms such as talus slopes and frost polygons. Frost action is most common in cold climates, where freeze-thaw cycles are frequent and intense.

Frost Heave

Frost heave is a type of frost action that occurs when water in the soil freezes and expands, causing the soil to rise or bulge. Frost heave can be a significant problem for infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, and buildings, as it can cause the ground to shift and crack. In colder climates, measures such as insulation and proper drainage are often used to prevent frost heave and protect infrastructure.

Frost Heaving

Frost heaving is a natural phenomenon that occurs in cold climates, where soil and rocks expand and lift due to the freezing and expansion of water in the ground. This process can cause significant damage to infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, as the ground shifts and cracks. Frost heaving is caused by the accumulation of ice lenses in the soil, which grow and push upwards as the temperature drops.

Frost Wedging

Frost wedging is a type of physical weathering that occurs in colder climates, where water enters cracks in rocks or soil and freezes, causing the material to expand and crack apart. This process can lead to the formation of characteristic landforms such as talus slopes and rock glaciers. Frost wedging is most effective in areas with frequent freeze-thaw cycles, where water can repeatedly enter and exit cracks in the rock.

Full-color Map

A full-color map is a type of map that uses a range of colors to represent different features or characteristics of the landscape. Full-color maps are commonly used in cartography to convey information such as topography, land use, and geology. The use of color can make it easier to distinguish between different features on a map and can make the map more visually appealing. Full-color maps are commonly used in tourism and outdoor recreation to help visitors navigate and explore new areas.

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