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Chapter: Civil Surveying : Fundamentals and Chain Surveying

Types of Surveying

The practice of surveying actually boils down to fieldwork and office work. The FIELDWORK consists of taking measurements, collecting engineering data, and testing materials. The OFFICE WORK includes taking care of the computation and drawing the necessary information for the purpose of the survey.





The practice of surveying actually boils down to fieldwork and office work. The FIELDWORK consists of taking measurements, collecting engineering data, and testing materials. The OFFICE WORK includes taking care of the computation and drawing the necessary information for the purpose of the survey.




FIELDWORK is of primary importance in all types of surveys. To be a skilled surveyor, you must spend a certain amount of time in the field to acquire needed experience. The study of this training manual will enable you to understand the underlying theory of surveying, the instruments and their uses, and the surveying methods. However, a high degree of proficiency in actual surveying, as in other professions, depends largely upon the duration, extent, and variation of your actual experience.


You should develop the habit of STUDYING the problem thoroughly before going into the field, You should know exactly what is to be done; how you will do it; why you prefer a certain approach over other possible solutions; and what instruments and materials you will need to accomplish the project.


It is essential that you develop SPEED and CONSISTENT ACCURACY in all your fieldwork. This means that you will need practice in handling the instruments, taking observations and keeping field notes, and planning systematic moves.


It is important that you also develop the habit of CORRECTNESS. You should not accept any measurement as correct without verification. Verification, as much as possible, should be different from the original method used in measurement. The precision of measurement must be consistent with the accepted standard for a particular purpose of the survey.


Fieldwork also includes adjusting the instruments and caring for field equipment. Do not attempt to adjust any instrument unless you understand the workings or functions of its parts. Adjustment of instruments in the early stages of your career requires close supervision from a senior EA.


Factors Affecting Fieldwork


The surveyor must constantly be alert to the different conditions encountered in the field. Physical factors, such as TERRAIN AND WEATHER CONDITIONS, affect each field survey in varying degrees. Measurements using telescopes can be stopped by fog or mist. Swamps and flood plains under high water can impede taping surveys. Sights over open water or fields of flat, unbroken terrain create ambiguities in measurements using microwave equipment. The lengths of light-wave distance in measurements are reduced in bright sunlight. Generally, reconnaissance will predetermine the conditions and alert the survey party to the best method to use and the rate of progress to expect.


The STATE OF PERSONNEL TECHNICAL READINESS is another factor affecting field-work. As you gain experience in handling various surveying instruments, you can shorten survey time and avoid errors that would require resurvey.


The PURPOSE AND TYPE OF SURVEY are primary factors in determining the accuracy requirements. First-order triangulation, which becomes the basis or "control" of future surveys, is made to high-accuracy standards. At the other extreme, cuts and fills for a highway survey carry accuracy standards of a much lower degree. In some construction surveys, normally inaccessible distances must be computed. The distance is computed by means of trigonometry, using the angles and the one distance that can be measured. The measurements must be made to a high degree of precision to maintain accuracy in the computed distance.



So, then, the purpose of the survey determines the accuracy requirements. The required accuracy, in turn, influences the selection of instruments and procedures. For instance, comparatively rough procedures can be used in measuring for earthmoving, but grade and alignment of a highway have to be much more precise, and they, therefore, require more accurate measurements. Each increase in precision also increases the time required to make the measurement, since greater care and more observations will be taken. Each survey measurement will be in error to the extent that no measurement is ever exact. The errors are classified as systematic and accidental and are explained in the latter part of this text. Besides errors, survey measurements are subject to mistakes or blunders. These arise from misunderstanding of the problem, poor judgment, confusion on the part of the surveyor, or simply from an oversight. By working out a systematic procedure, the surveyor will often detect a mistake when some operation seems out of place. The procedure will be an advantage in setting up the equipment, in making observations, in recording field notes, and in making computations.


Survey speed is not the result of hurrying; it is the result of saving time through the following factors:


1. The skill of the surveyor in handling the instruments


2. The intelligent planning and preparation of the work


3.  The process of making only those measurements that are consistent with the accuracy requirements


Experience is of great value, but in the final analysis, it is the exercise of a good, mature, and competent degree of common sense that makes the difference between a good surveyor and an exceptional surveyor.


Field Survey Parties


The size of a field survey party depends upon the survey requirements, the equipment available, the method of survey, and the number of personnel needed for performing the different functions. Four typical field survey parties commonly used in the SEABEEs are briefly described in this section: a level party, a transit party, a stadia party, and a plane table party.


LEVEL PARTY.- The smallest leveling party consists of two persons: an instrumentman and a rodman. This type of organization requires the instrumentman to act as note keeper. The party may need another recorder and one or more extra rodmen to improve the efficiency of the different leveling operations. The addition of the rodmen eliminates the waiting periods while one person moves from point to point, and the addition of a recorder allows the instrumentman to take readings as soon as the rodmen are in position. When leveling operations are run along with other control surveys, the leveling party may be organized as part of a combined party with personnel assuming dual duties, as required by the work load and as designated by the party chief.


TRANSIT PARTY.- A transit party consists of at least three people: an instrumentman, a head chainman, and a party chief. The party chief is usually the note keeper and may double as rear chainman, or there may be an additional rear chainman. The instrumentman operates the transit; the head chainman measures the hori-zontal distances; and the party chief directs the survey and keeps the notes.


STADIA PARTY.- A stadia party should consist of three people: an instrumentman, a note keeper, and a rodman. However, two rodmen should be used if there are long distances between observed points so that one can proceed to a new point, while the other is holding the rod on a point being observed. The note keeper records the data called off by the instrumentman and makes the sketches required.


PLANE TABLE PARTY.- The plane table party consists of three people: a topographer or plane table operator, a rodman, and a computer. The topographer is the chief of the party who sets up, levels, and orients the plane table; makes the necessary readings for the determination of horizontal distances and elevations; plots the details on the plane table sheet as the work proceeds; and directs the other members of the party.


The rodman carries a stadia rod and holds it vertically at detail points and at critical terrain points in the plotting of the map. An inexperienced rodman must be directed by the topographer to each point at which the rod is to be held. An experienced rodman will expedite the work of the party by selecting the proper rod positions and by returning at times to the plane table to draw in special details that he may have noticed.


The computer reduces stadia readings to horizontal and vertical distances and computes the ground elevation for rod observations. He carries and positions the umbrella to shade the plane table and performs other duties as directed by the topographer. At times, the computer may be used as a second rodman, especially when the terrain is relatively flat and computations are mostly for leveling alone.


Field Notes


Field notes are the only record that is left after the field survey party departs the survey site. If these notes are not clear and complete, the field survey was of little value. It is therefore necessary that your field notes contain a complete record of all of the measurements made during the survey and that they include, where necessary, sketches and narrations to clarify the notes. The following guidelines apply.


LETTERING.- All field notes should be lettered legibly. The lettering should be in freehand, vertical or slanted Gothic style, as illustrated in basic drafting. A fairly hard pencil or a mechanical lead holder with a 3H or 4H lead is recommended. Numerals and decimal points should be legible and should permit only one interpretation.


FORMAT.- Notes must be kept in the regular field notebook and not on scraps of paper for later transcription. Separate surveys should be recorded on separate pages or in different books. The front cover of the field notebook should be marked with the name of the project, its general location, the types of measurements recorded, the designation of the survey unit, and other pertinent information.


The inside front cover should contain instructions for the return of the notebook, if lost. The right-hand pages should be reserved as an index of the field notes, a list of party personnel and their duties, a list of the instruments used, dates and reasons for any instrument changes during the course of the survey, and a sketch and description of the project.


Throughout the remainder of the notebook, the beginning and ending of each day'swork should be clearly indicated. Where pertinent, the weather, including temperature and wind velocities, should also be recorded. To minimize recording errors, someone other than the recorder should check and initial all data entered in the notebook.


RECORDING.- Field note recording takes three general forms: tabulation, sketches, and descriptions. Two, or even all three, forms may be combined, when necessary, to make a complete record.


In TABULATION, the numerical measurements are recorded in columns according to a prescribed plan. Spaces are also reserved to permit necessary computations.


SKETCHES add much to clarify field notes and should be used liberally when applicable. They may be drawn to an approximate scale, or important details may be exaggerated for clarity. A small ruler or triangle is an aid in making sketches. Measurements should be added directly on the sketch or keyed in some way to the tabular data. An important requirement of a sketch is legibility. See that the sketch is drawn clearly and large enough to be understandable.



Tabulation, with or without added sketches, can also be supplemented with DESCRIPTIONS. The description may be only one or two words to clarify t he recorded measurements. It may also be quite a narration if it is to be used at some future time, possibly years later, to locate a survey monument.


ERASURES ARE NOT PERMITTED IN FIELD NOTEBOOKS. Individual numbers or lines recorded incorrectly are to be lined out and the correct values inserted. Pages that are to be rejected are crossed out neatly and referenced to the substituted pages. THIS PROCEDURE IS MANDATORY since the field notebook is the book of record and is often used as legal evidence. Standard abbreviations, signs, and symbols are used in field notebooks. If there is any doubt as to their meaning, an explanation must be given in the form of notes or legends.




OFFICE WORK in surveying consists of converting the field measurements into a usable format. The conversion of computed, often mathematical, values may be required immediately to continue the work, or it may be delayed until a series of field measurements is completed. Although these operations are performed in the field during lapses between measurements, they can also be considered office work. Such operations are normally done to save time. Special equipment, such as calculators, conversion tables, and some drafting equipment, are used in most office work.


In office work, converting field measurements (also called reducing) involves the process of computing, adjusting, and applying a standard rule to numerical values.




In any field survey operation, measurements are derived by the application of some form of mathematical computation. It may be simple addition of several full lengths and a partial tape length to record a total linear distance between two points. It maybe the addition or subtraction of differences in elevation to determine the height of instrument or the elevation during leveling. Then again, it maybe checking of angles to ensure that the allowable error is not exceeded.


Office computing converts these distances, elevations, and angles into a more usable form. The finished measurements may end up as a computed volume of dirt to be moved for a highway cut or fill, an area of land needed for a SEABEE construction project, or a new position of a point from which other measurements can be made.


In general, office computing reduces the field notes to either a tabular or graphic form for a permanent record or for continuation of fieldwork.




Some survey processes are not complete until measurements are within usable limits or until corrections have been applied to these measurements to distribute accumulated errors. Small errors that are not apparent in individual measurements can accumulate to a sizeable amount. Adjusting is the process used to distribute these errors among the many points or stations until the effect on each point has been reduced to the degree that all measurements are within usable limits.


For example, assume that 100 measurements were made to the nearest unit for the accuracy required. This requires estimating the nearest one-half unit during measurement. At the end of the course, an error of + 4 units results. Adjusting this means each measurement is reduced 0.04 unit. Since the measurements were read only to the nearest unit, this adjustment would not be measurable at any point, and the adjusted result would be correct.


SIGNIFICANT FIGURES.- The term known to be exact.


In a measured quantity, the number of significant figures is determined by the accuracy of the measurement. For example, a roughly measured distance of 193 ft has three significant figures. More carefully measured, the same distance, 192.7 ft, has four significant figures. If measured still more accurately, 192.68 ft has five significant figures.


In surveying, the significant figures should reflect the allowable error or tolerance in the measurements. For example, suppose a measurement of 941.26 units is made with a probable error of 0.03 unit. The 0.03 casts some doubt on the fifth digit which can vary from 3 to 9, but the fourth digit will still remain 2. We can say that 941.26 has five significant figures; and from the allowable error, we know the fifth digit is doubtful. However, if the probable error were 0.07, the fourth digit could be affected. The number could vary from 941.19 to 941.33, and the fourth digit could be read 1, 2, or 3. The fifth digit in this measurement is meaningless. The number has only four significant figures and should be written as such.


The number of significant figures in a number ending in one or more zeros is unknown unless more information is given. The zeros may have been added to show the location of the decimal point; for example, 73200 may have three, four, or five significant figures, depending on whether the true value is accurate to 100, 10, or 1 unit(s). If the number is written 73200.0, it indicates accuracy is carried to the tenth of a unit and is considered to have six significant figures.


When decimals are used, the number of significant figures is not always the number of digits. A zero may or may not be significant, depending on its position with respect to the decimal and the digits. As mentioned above, zeros may have been added to show the position of the decimal point. Study the following examples:


0.000047 . . . . . . .two significant figures


0.0100470 . . . . . . .six significant figures


0.1000470 . . . . . . .seven significant figures


2.0100470 . . . . . . .eight significant figures


In long computations, the values are carried out to one more digit than required in the result. The number is rounded off to the required numbers of digits as a final step.


ROUNDING OFF NUMBERS.- Rounding off is the process of dropping one or more digits and replacing them with zeros, if necessary, to indicate the number of significant figures. Numbers used in surveying are rounded off according to the following rules:


1. When the digit to be dropped is less than 5, the number is written without the digit or any others that follow it. (Example: 0.054 becomes 0.05.)


2.  When the digit is equal to 5, the nearest EVEN number is substituted for the preceding digit. (Examples: 0.055 becomes 0.06; 0.045 becomes 0.04.)


3.  When the digit to be dropped is greater than 5, the preceding digit is increased by one. (Example: 0.047 becomes 0.05.)


4. Dropped digits to the left of the decimal point are replaced by zeros.


5. Dropped digits to the right of the decimal points are never replaced.

CHECKING COMPUTATIONS.- Most mathematical problems can be solved by more than one method. To check a set of computations, you should use a method that differs from the original method, if possible. An inverse solution, starting with the computed value and solving for the field data, is one possibility. The planimeter and the protractor are also used for approximate checking. A graphical solution can be used, when feasible, especially if it takes less time than a mathematical or logarithmic solution. Each step that cannot be checked by any other method must be recomputed; and, if possible, another EA should recompute the problem. When an error or mistake is found, the computation should be rechecked before the correction is accepted





Drafting Used In Surveying


The general concept of drafting and the use of drafting instruments were discussed in chapters 2 through 5. By this time, you should be familiar with the use of various drafting instruments and with the elements of mechanical drawing. Draft-ing used in surveying, except for some freehand sketches, is generally performed by mechanical means; for example, the drawing of lines and surveying symbols is generally done with the aid of a straightedge, spline, template, and so on.


The drawings you make that are directly related to surveying will consist of maps, profiles, cross sections, mass diagrams, and, to some extent, other graphical calculations. Their usefulness depends upon how accurately you plot the points and lines representing the field measurements. It is important that you adhere to the requirements of standard drawing practices. Correctness, neatness, legibility, and well proportioned drawing arrangements are signs of professionalism.


In drawing a PROPERTY map, for example, the following general information must be included:


1. The length of each line, either indicated on the line itself or in a tabulated form, with the distances keyed to the line designation.


2. The bearing of each line or the angles between lines.


3. The location of the mapped area as referenced to an established coordinate system.


4.    The location and kind of each established monument indicating distances from referencemarks.


5. The name of each road, stream, landmark, and so on.


6. The names of all property owners, including those whose lots are adjacent to the mapped area.


7. The direction of the true or magnetic meridian, or both.


8. A graphical scale showing the corresponding numerical equivalent.


9. A legend to the symbols shown on the map, if those shown are not standard signs.


10.       A title block that distinctly identifies the tract mapped or the owner'snam.(It is required to contain the name of the surveyor, the name of the draftsman, and the date of the survey.)


Besides the above information, there are some other items that may be required if the map is to become a public record. When this is the case, consult the local office of the Bureau of Land Management or the local surveyors'societyfor the correct general information requirements to be included in the map to be drawn.


In drawing maps that will be used as a basis for studies, such as those to be used in roads, structures, or waterfront construction, you are required to include the following general information:


1. Information that will graphically represent the features in the plan, such as streams, lakes, boundaries, roads, fences, and condition and culture of the land.


2. The relief or contour of the land.


3. The graphical scale.


4. The direction of the meridian.


5. The legend to symbols used, if they are not conventional signs.


6. A standard title block with a neat and appropriate title that states the kind or purpose of the map. Again, the surveyor'snameandthat of the draftsman, as well as the date of survey, are to be included in the title block.

Maps developed as a basis for studies are so varied in purpose that the above information may be adequate for some but inadequate for others. The Engineering Aid, when in doubt, should consult the senior EA, the engineering officer, or the operations officer as to the information desired in the proposed map. The senior EA or the chief of the field survey party is required to know all these requirements before actual fieldwork is started.


A map with too much information is as bad as a map with too little information on it. It is not surprising to find a map that is so crowded with information and other details that it is hard to comprehend. If this happens, draw the map to a larger scale or reduce the information or details on it. Then, provide separate notes or descriptions for other information that will not fit well and thus will cause the appearance of overcrowding. Studying the features and quality of existing maps developed by NAVFACENGCOM and civilian architects and engineers (A & E) agencies will aid you a great deal in your own map drawing.

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