With satellite imagery, modern maps are more accurate today than ever before and most modern maps are derived from satellite images (see Satellite images). Indeed, the advent of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology almost makes paper maps obsolete if they are used just to find your way around. But maps and charts remain essential navigation devices because they allow a ship's captain to plot a course well ahead. Importantly, they allow the captain to determine the location of hazards that are not recorded by GPS systems. Recent navigational failures (such as an oil tanker running aground just outside Puerto Baquerizo harbor in 2001) resulted because navigators relied too heavily on GPS computers and did not consult naval charts on which hidden reefs are clearly marked. Also, maps provide significant information can be obtained that allow scientists to better understand the geological and oceangraphical context of the islands, as shown in the charts of currents, the sea floor and tectonic situation.
Click below for modern map images and information:
"More delicate than the historians' are the mapmakers' colors."
Elizabeth Bishop, The Map 1946