Remote Sensing, Geology, & Geography

By Derek Geise

This activity will demonstrate the interrelationship among remote sensing, geology and geography and will allow the student to integrate all three of these subjects.


Development of the concept of remote sensing and how it can be applied to geology and geography. Students will be able to use remote sensing and it’s processes to demonstrate how geology may influence geography.


NOTE - A free CASDE (Consortium for the Application of Space Data to Education) CD-ROM available on line on the NESEN homepage or from the CASDE office would prove to be very helpful and should be used in conjunction with this activity.

Knowledge, Demonstration, Experimentation

Prior to the beginning of this activity, the concept of remote sensing must be explained as many students may not know what remote sensing is. Once the concept of remote sensing has been explained, engage the students by having them break up into groups and brainstorm on ideas how remote sensing may be applicable to geology and geography.

Demonstration of the CASDE CD-ROM by the teacher. Go through a few of remote sensing the demonstrations ahead of time so you the teacher can learn to manipulate the tool. Have students break up into groups and follow your lead to get them used to using the remote sensing segment of the CASDE CD.

Once the basics have been explained, have students break up into groups. Locate several remote sensing images either on the CASDE CD, or download off of the Internet. Pick images which show hills or mountains, valleys, rivers and flood plains, forests and agriculture, and cities or towns. Have students go through these images and form hypothesis on how the different structures are related and how they show up on satellite images. The objective here is to get the students to recognize each of these different phenomena using remote sensing techniques.


In this part of the activity, students are to break into groups of three or four and go over their observations. This is best done on a computer. Have the students try and discover the relationships among the different phenomena.

Questions to be answered are as follows:

  1. How are rivers related to mountains, hill, and valleys?
  2. In what geographical regions are most mountains chains found?
    1. How is the geology of a particular area affecting the vegetation around that area?
    2. Do agricultural areas have any relationship to rivers and floodplains?
  3. How can you explain the geographic relationship among towns or cities, rivers, forests and floodplains?
    1. How are remote sensing, geology, and geography interrelated?

Class Discussion

Have students go through their original hypothesis and note any changes that have been made once the activity has been completed. Group reports to the class on the interrelationships would be useful to allow students to engage with each other on how these processes are all related.

Have each group tell why a town may be located where it is, why mountains are geologically significant to the surrounding landscapes in terms of vegetative cover, why rivers and flood plains are used for agriculture, and what remote sensing can do for scientists.