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Chapter: Civil Surveying : Fundamentals and Chain Surveying

Classification of Surveying

Generally, surveying is divided into two major categories: plane and geodetic surveying.



Generally, surveying is divided into two major categories: plane and geodetic surveying.




PLANE SURVEYING is a process of surveying in which the portion of the earth being surveyed is considered a plane. The term is used to designate survey work in which the distances or areas involved are small enough that the curvature of the earth can be disregarded without significant error. In general, the term of limited extent. For small areas, precise results may be obtained with plane surveying methods, but the accuracy and precision of such results will decrease as the area surveyed increases in size. To make computations in plane surveying, you will use formulas of plane trigonometry, algebra, and analytical geometry.


A great number of surveys are of the plane surveying type. Surveys for the location and construction of highways and roads, canals, landing fields, and railroads are classified under plane surveying. When it is realized that an arc of 10 mi is only 0.04 greater that its subtended chord; that a plane surface tangent to the spherical arc has departed only about 8 in. at 1 mi from the point of tangency; and that the sum of the angles of a spherical triangle is only 1 sec greater than the sum of the angles of a plane triangle for a triangle having an area of approximately 75 sq mi on the earth'ssurface, it is just reasonable that the errors caused by the earth'sconsideredcurvatureonlyinprecisesurveysbeof large areas.


In this training manual, we will discuss primarily the methods used in plane surveying rather than those used in geodetic surveying.




GEODETIC SURVEYING is a process of surveying in which the shape and size of the earth are considered. This type of survey is suited for large areas and long lines and is used to find the precise location of basic points needed for establishing control for other surveys. In geodetic surveys, the stations are normally long distances apart, and more precise instruments and surveying methods are required for this type of surveying than for plane surveying.


The shape of the earth is thought of as a spheroid, although in a technical sense, it is not really a spheroid. In 1924, the convention of the International Geodetic and Geophysical Union adopted 41,852,960 ft as the diameter of the earth at the equator and 41,711,940 ft as the diameter at its polar axis. The equatorial diameter was computed on the assumption that the flattening of the earth caused by gravitational attraction is exactly 1/297. Therefore, distances measured on or near the surface of the earth are not along straight lines or planes, but on a curved surface.


Hence, in the computation of distances in geodetic surveys, allowances are made for the earth'sminorand major diameters from which a spheroid of reference is developed. The position of each geodetic station is related to this spheroid. The positions are expressed as latitudes (angles north or south of the Equator) and longitudes (angles east or west of a prime meridian) or as northings and castings on a rectangular grid.


The methods used in geodetic surveying are beyond the scope of this training manual





The purpose of a TOPOGRAPHIC SURVEY is to gather survey data about the natural and man-made features of the land, as well as its elevations. From this information a three-dimensional map may be prepared. You may prepare the topographic map in the office after collecting the field data or prepare it right away in the field by plane table. The work usually consists of the following:


1. Establishing horizontal and vertical control that will serve as the framework of the survey


2. Determining enough horizontal location and elevation (usually called side shots) of ground points to provide enough data for plotting when the map is prepared


3. Locating natural and man-made features that may be required by the purpose of the survey


4. Computing distances, angles, and elevations


5. Drawing the topographic map


Topographic surveys are commonly identified with horizontal and/or vertical control of third-and lower-order accuracies.




The term route survey refers to surveys necessary for the location and construction of lines of transportation or communication that continue across country for some distance, such as highways, railroads, open-conduit systems, pipelines, and power lines. Generally, the preliminary survey for this work takes the form of a topographic survey. In the final stage, the work may consist of the following:


1. Locating the center line, usually marked by stakes at 100-ft intervals called stations


2.  Determining elevations along and across the center line for plotting profile and cross sections


3. Plotting the profile and cross sections and fixing the grades


4. Computing the volumes of earthwork and preparing a mass diagram


5. Staking out the extremities for cuts and fills


6. Determining drainage areas to be used in the design of ditches and culverts


7. Laying out structures, such as bridges and culverts


8. Locating right-of-way boundaries, as well as staking out fence lines, if necessary




As mentioned earlier in this chapter, SPECIAL SURVEYS are conducted for a specific purpose and with a special type of surveying equipment and methods. A brief discussion of some of the special surveys familiar to you follows.


Land Surveys


LAND SURVEYS (sometimes called cadastral or property surveys) are conducted to establish the exact location, boundaries, or subdivision of a tract of land in any specified area. This type of survey requires professional registration in all states. Presently, land surveys generally consist of the following chores:


1. Establishing markers or monuments to define and thereby preserve the boundaries of land belonging to a private concern, a corporation, or the government.


2.  Relocating markers or monuments legally established by original surveys. This requires examining previous survey records and retracing what was done. When some markers or monuments are missing, they are reestablished following recognized procedures, using whatever information is available.


3. Rerunning old land survey lines to determine their lengths and directions. As a result of the high cost of land, old lines are remeasured to get more precise measurements.


4. Subdividing landed estates into parcels of predetermined sizes and shapes.


5.   Calculating areas, distances, and directions and preparing the land map to portray the survey data so that it can be used as a permanent record. 6. Writing a technical description for deeds.


Control Surveys


CONTROL SURVEYS provide "basic control" or horizontal and vertical positions of points to which supplementary surveys are adjusted. These types of surveys (sometimes termed and traverse stations and the elevations of bench marks. These control points are further used as References for hydrographic surveys of the coastal waters; for topographic control; and for the control of many state, city, and private surveys.


Horizontal and vertical controls generated by land (geodetic) surveys provide coordinated position data for all surveyors. It is therefore necessary that these types of surveys use first-order and second-order accuracies.


Hydrographic Surveys


HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEYS are made to acquire data required to chart and/or map shorelines and bottom depths of streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and other larger bodies of water. This type of survey is also of general importance to navigation and to development of water resources for flood control, irrigation, electrical power, and water supply.


As in other special surveys, several different types of electronic and radio-acoustical instruments are used in hydrographic surveys. These special devices are commonly used in determining water depths and location of objects on the bottom by a method called taking SOUNDINGS. Soundings are taken by measuring the time required for sound to travel downward and be reflected back to a receiver aboard a vessel.


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