NAVIGATION: Introduction - Stop1 - Stop2 - Stop3 - Stop4 - Stop5 - Stops678 - Stops910
Welcome to Tempe Butte

GPH 111 - Exercise 14 Virtual Supplement

Prepared as part of an Arizona Board of Regents
Learner Centered Education Grant to John Douglass and Ron Dorn

Aerial photo of Tempe Butte looking to the northwest.  This image is courtesy of Tim Trumble and ASU. 

Feel free to fly through of the Phoenix area to familiarize yourself with the region before beginning the lab.


Welcome to the virtual Tempe Butte GPH 111 lab. Exercise 14 in the lab manual is meant to guide you through a physical geography field trip of our local landform. 

A-Mountain, Hayden Butte, or Tempe Butte: Different Names for our Local Landform

Most students call the local hill "A-Mountain", because of the giant A for ASU built on the mountain.  Our local civic leaders have named the Tempe park  "Hayden Butte Preserve".  However, the official government name on U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps is Tempe Butte.  No matter what you like to call this local hill, its physical geography is the focus of exercise 14.

How Tempe Butte Laboratory Relates to the Course

The Tempe Butte laboratory  brings together the different elements of physical geography shown in this diagram: 

Each of the above elements of physical geography adds to the natural character of Tempe Butte.  Just studying alone the weather, or rocks, or the plants at Tempe Butte would do an injustice to the nature of this place.  Physical geography explains  how different types of processes act  altogether to understand the nature of places.  [Human Geography adds in human processes, but since you don't want to spend days on this exercise, we limit the lab to pre-industrial processes acting on Tempe Butte.]

The lines in the above diagram are supposed to suggest connections.  Consider all of the lines radiating from climate.  The dry climate interacts with all of the other elements of Tempe Butte. Climate limits the biogeography to xerophytes (plants adapted to dry conditions) and animals like packrats (Neotoma sp.) with adaptations to survive drought.  The dry climate also means that the hydrology is limited to washes that are dry 99.99% of the time and flow only during extreme rain storms.  The climate creates soils that accumulate calcium carbonate, white deposits called calcrete that would be washed away to groundwater in a wet place. The desert climate acts upon the geology to create a landform of exposed rocks that would be covered with soil in a forest or a grassland.  In summary, Tempe Butte's unique nature is a combination of all of the different processes of physical geography.

How to use this Virtual Field Trip

The ideal learning experience is to walk around Tempe Butte with your instructor as a guide.   However, you may be physically disabled or you may need a visual review.  No matter the reason, this virtual trip supplement to Tempe Butte lab should help you gain a better understanding of the physical geography of our local environment as you complete the exercise.

This virtual trip has all the stops that you would experience in person. These have been set up for you to explore and experience, virtually, at your own pace. 

Make sure your have your lab manual handy, because you will need to fill out the lab book out as you go along. So right now, before you start clicking, be sure to read the Tempe Butte exercise (Number 14) in your lab book.


This is an overhead aerial photograph with all the stops described in your lab manual. To go to the desired stop of interest, simply click on the yellow field.  If you are not sure what to do, just click on the number 1.

Tempe Butte Virtual Supplement:

HELP with the Yellow Viewsheds: The yellow pie slices with numbers are the stops in your lab book.  The pie shape is called a viewshed.  Imagine yourself at the pointy part. The fatter section of the pie piece is the direction of the view on the ground . In other words, the viewshed is what you would see if you were actually standing there on Tempe Butte oriented in that direction. 

NAVIGATION: Introduction - Stop1 - Stop2 - Stop3 - Stop4 - Stop5 - Stops678 - Stops910