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Digital Elevation Models

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A digital elevation model, also called a DEM, is a file containing elevation data used in producing digital terrain models and in other applications. The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) produces digital elevation data that corresponds with their topographic maps. Hundreds of DEM files are available for free at The USGS also developed DEM-viewer software, called dem3D, that allows the user to easily see the digital data. The Weed-East sheet, as seen in dem3D, is shown below.

The USGS Weed-East DEM sheet (west at top of image)

After you view the DEM Thumbnails, you may want to create your own DEMs. If so, visit the Lesson Plans page and you will learn how to install and use dem3D and download the Weed-East data file. You can also learn how to download, install, and use MCNV, a nifty little freeware program that cuts the DEM file into pieces for use in VistaPro.

Digital Elevation Model Thumbnails

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