How To: Create contour lines based on point values other than elevation


Other than elevation, contouring can be used to graphically represent data based on values such as soil temperature, isobars or lithic counts, and model the potential change between any two points. For example, the user has point data on a map representing the lithic (rock) material found at each survey point. Contour lines can be created by attributing each point with the lithic count amounts.

Overall contour accuracy depends on how well the data used to create the input raster represents the actual surface, therefore it is important to evaluate the data and its purpose to avoid accuracy issues in data representation.
The instructions provided describe how to create contour lines from point features.


  1. Interpolate the point to raster using one of the surface interpolation methods such as IDW, Kriging, Natural Neighbor, and Topo To Raster to create an elevation surface from a set of sample measurements. For more information on the available interpolation methods in ArcMap, refer to the following ArcGIS Web Help page: Comparing interpolation methods.
If using the Topo To Raster tool, set PointElevation as the Type parameter. Topo To Raster does not support shapefiles as the input feature. The tools used to interpolate data to raster require the Spatial Analyst or 3D Analyst license.
  1.  Use the Contour tool.
    1. In the Catalog window, navigate to System Toolboxes > Spatial Analyst Tools > Surface > Contour.
For 3D Analyst, navigate to System Toolboxes > 3D Analyst Tools > Raster Surface > Contours.
  1. Select the output from Step 1 as the input raster.
  2. Specify the name and location of the output polyline features.
  3. Set the contour interval value.
  4. Click OK.
For more information on how to use the Contour tool, refer to the following ArcGIS Web Help page: Contour.
User-added image

Related Information