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The student should be able to ...

appreciate the importance of surveying

explain the basic principles of surveying
describe basic principles and different methods of levelling

define and explain the terms bearings and azimuths

1.1 Definition of surveying
Surveying is the science or art which deals with determination of the relative
positions of points on, above, near or below the surface of earth by means of
direct or indirect measurements of distances (horizontal and vertical) and
direction (angle).
The vertical distance is known as elevation or height. Since all the points on the
surface of earth have three dimensions, therefore their relative positions can be
denoted by horizontal distances between them, the direction of lines or the angles
between the lines and elevation difference between them.
Surveying also deals with establishing points by predetermined angular and
linear measurements. Surveyors require basic knowledge of mathematics,
physics and to some extent astronomy.

1.2 History of surveying

The history of surveying is almost as old as that of the civilizations. When the
man started living in organized settlements or villages, he realized the importance
of boundaries, hence the art of surveying evolved slowly. Earlier accuracy was not
of major concern, only the layouts were prepared. Numbers of examples of these
types of maps are available in history. The oldest historical records in existence
state that science of surveying began in Egypt. The land of Egypt was divided into
plots for the purpose of taxation. These early surveyors were called ropestretchers, since their measurements were made with ropes having markers at
unit distances. Later on, as importance of land holdings increased in Biblical,
early colonial era, more stress was given on the measurements parts and
improved equipments were adopted for surveying. Significant development in
surveying also took place in Roman period.

1.3 Geodetic and plane surveys

Surveying can be classified as geodetic and plane. They differ principally in the
assumptions on which the assumptions are based. Field measurements for
geodetic surveys are usually performed to a higher order of accuracy than those
for plane surveys.
Geodetic surveying is that type of surveying which takes into account the
curvature of the earths surface for achieving high precision. All survey lines lying
in the surface are curved lines and all the triangles are spherical triangles. It
involves spherical trigonometry. The object of the geodetic survey is to determine
the precise position on the surface of the earth, of a system of widely distant
points which form control stations to which surveys of less precision may be
referred. Beyond 195 sq km area of triangle, the difference of sum of angles of
plane triangle and geodetic triangle is more than 1" (one second), therefore

geodetic survey is essential. Also, the length of arc 12 km long lying on the
surface of earth is 1 cm greater than the subtended chord, therefore geodetic
survey is done for larger distances.
Plane surveying is that type of surveying which does not take into account the
curvature of the earth and the earth surface is treated as a plane surface. All
triangles formed by survey lines are considered as plane triangles. The level line
is considered as straight and all plumb lines are considered parallel. For the
survey of smaller areas, plane surveying gives reasonable accuracy.

1.4 Basic Principles of Surveying

The fundamental principles, upon which the various methods of surveying are
based, are very simple to understand(i)
Location of a point by measurement from two points of reference: The
relative positions of the points to be surveyed should be located by
measurement from at least two points of reference, the positions of which
have already been fixed.
Working from whole to part: This is the ruling principle of surveying,
whether plane or geodetic. The surveyor should first establish a sufficient
number of points with higher degree of precision. Such points are known
as primary control points.
The gaps are then filled with a system of secondary control points at closer
intervals with slightly less precision. Further gaps are then filled with
tertiary control points at even closer intervals and with less precision. The
tertiary control points are used to fix details on the ground, for the surveys
of ordinary nature.
The purpose of working from whole to part is to localize the errors for
preventing the accumulation of errors. In the reverse process of working
from part to whole, the errors will get accumulated and hence magnified.
As a rule, the errors in survey details should be too small to plot, while the
accuracy of the control points used for plotting the detail must be as high
as possible.

1.5 Importance of surveying

The knowledge of surveying is important for the engineers and planners. Survey
of project site is a prerequisite for almost all the engineering projects in the field
of transportation (railways, roads), hydraulics (irrigation, water supply),
structures (buildings, bridges), transmission lines, mining, town planning etc.
Apart from it, surveying helps in selection of optimal location of dam or bridge on
the river, alignment of roads, canal, pipelines etc.
Surveying is commonly employed in lying out industrial assembly lines and jigs,
and for guiding the fabrication of large equipment such as airplanes and ships
where separate pieces that have been assembled at different locations must
ultimately be connected as unit.

All engineers must know the limits of accuracy possible in construction, plant
design and layout and manufacturing processes. This knowledge is best obtained
by making measurements with the kinds of equipments used in practice to get
the true concept of the theory of errors, and the small but recognizable
differences that occur in observed quantities.
In addition to stressing the need for reasonable limits of accuracy, surveying
emphasizes the value of significant figures. Surveyor should know when to work
to hundredths of a meter instead of to tenths or thousandth, or perhaps the
nearest centimeter, and what precision in field data is necessary to justify
carrying out computations to the desired number of decimal places.

1.6 Specialized types of surveys

Many types of surveys are so specialized that a person proficient in a particular
discipline may have little contact with the other areas. However a surveyor should
be knowledgeable in every phase, since all are closely related in modern practice.
The surveys can be classified based on the purpose for which they are
conducted(a) Control surveys: are for establishing a network of horizontal and vertical
positions of widely spaced control points using geodetic methods that
serve as reference framework for initiating other surveys.
(b) Topographic surveys: are for depiction of topography of a region. It
includes natural features such as hills, forests, rivers and man-made
features such as towns, villages, buildings, roads, transmission lines and
(c) Engineering surveys: are undertaken specifically for engineering purposes,
e.g. collection of requisite data for planning, design and execution of
engineering projects such as design of roads, bridges, dams, transmission
lines etc.
(d) Land, boundary and cadastral surveys: establish property lines, property
corner markers, calculation of land area or the transfer of land property
from one owner to another. The term cadastral is generally applied to the
surveys of the public lands system. They are also made to fix the
boundaries of municipalities and of State jurisdictions.
(e) Construction surveys: are required to establish points, lines grades, and
for staking out engineering works, after the plans have been prepared and
the structural design has been done.
(f) Route surveys: are made to plan, design and construct highways,
railroads, canals, pipelines and other linear projects.
(g) Hydrographic surveys: deal with bodies of water for purpose of navigation,
water supply, harbor works or for the determination of mean sea level. The
work consists in measurements of discharge of streams, making
topographic survey of shores and banks, taking and locating soundings to
determine the depth of water and observing the fluctuations of the ocean
(h) Geological surveys: are conducted to determine different strata of the
earths crust for geological studies.

(i) Archeological surveys: are used for unearthing relics of antiquity.

(j) Mine surveys: are performed above and below the ground to guide
tunneling and other operations associated with mining. It also includes
geo-physical surveys for mineral and energy resource exploration.
(k) Astronomical surveys: are conducted for determination of latitudes,
longitudes, azimuths, local time etc. for various places by observing
heavenly bodies such as sun and stars.
(l) Satellite surveys: include the determination of ground locations from
measurements made to satellite using GPS receivers, or the use of satellite
images for mapping and monitoring large regions of the earth.

1.7 The surveying profession

Land surveying is considered as a learned profession since a surveyor needs a
wide background of technical training and experience and must exercise a
considerable amount of independent judgment. He should have knowledge in
both field operations and office computations. Registered surveyor should have a
thorough knowledge of mathematics - particularly geometry and trigonometry,
good understanding of survey theory, instruments and methods in the areas of
geodesy, photogrammetry and cartography.

1.8 Future challenges in surveying

Surveying is currently in the midst of a revolution in the way data are measured,
recorded, processed, stored, retrieved and shared; due to the developments in
computers and computer related technologies. Concurrent with the technological
advancements, society continues to demand more data, with increasing higher
standards of accuracy.
In future, assessment of environmental impacts of proposed construction
projects will require better maps. Cadastral surveys of the yet unsurveyed public
lands are essential. A network of horizontal and vertical control points (known as
National Geodetic Reference System in U.S.) must be maintained and
supplemented to meet requirements of higher-order surveys. New topographic
maps at larger scales as well as digital maps are necessary for better planning.
Large quantities of the data will be required to plan and design new rapid-transit
transport systems to connect the major cities, and surveyors will face new
challenges in meeting the precise standards required in staking alignments and
grades for these systems.



For the execution of engineering projects, e.g. highways, railways, tunnels, dams,
canal etc. the elevations of different points along the alignment of the project are
The relative position of a point in terms of the vertical distance, above or below
another (reference) point or surface is known as its elevation. Therefore elevation
may be considered as vertical coordinate, which is positive/negative if the point is
above/below the reference surface (datum).
Usually mean sea level (msl) is considered to be the standard datum, but
sometimes an arbitrary assumed surface can be taken as a reference. Grade and
altitude are other terms frequently used as an alternate to elevation. Grade is an
expression of elevation in construction activities, whereas altitude is the vertical
distance of a point in space.

Many different types of surveys can be used depending on the desired results.
Differential and profile levelling are two surveying methods that are very useful
for agricultural and horticultural projects. They are both useful for planning and
layout of projects. For planning purposes they are used to provide the
information needed to develop the maps, charts, and drawings necessary to lay
out buildings, roads, drains, etc.



Leveling: It is an operation of surveying to (a) determine the elevation at a given

point and (b) establish point at a given elevation, with respect to a given or
assumed datum. The first operation is required to enable the works to be
designed; second operation deals with setting out of all kinds of engineering
Level Surface: is defined as a curved surface which is perpendicular to the
direction of gravity at each point, e.g. a still lake. It is normal to the plumb line at
all the points and every point on it is equidistant from the centre of earth.
Datum or Datum Surface: is a level surface with respect to which the levels of
points are measured. It may be a standard surface e.g. msl or any arbitrary
Level Line: is a line lying on a level surface. It is normal to the plumb line at all
Vertical Line: also defined by plumb line, is a line normal to the level line at a
Horizontal Plane: is a plane tangential to the level surface at a point under
consideration. It is perpendicular to the plumb line through the point.
Horizontal Line: is a straight line tangential to the level line. It lies in the
horizontal plane and is perpendicular to the plumb line.
Mean sea level (m.s.l.): is the average hourly height of the sea for all stages of the
tides, at several points over a long period of 19 years.
Line of Sight: also known as line of collimation is a line joining the intersection of
the cross-hairs to the optical centre of the objective and its continuation.

Methods to determine differences in elevation

Differences in the elevation can be obtained by the following ways(a) Measuring vertical distances by taping or electronic methods:
Using a tape in a vertical line between two points is possible in a
few cases. This method is used to measure depths of mine
shafts, to determine the floor elevation in condominium surveys,
and in the layout and construction of multi-storey buildings,
pipelines etc. During the laying of water and sewer pipelines, a
graduated rod may replace the tape. In some construction sites
reflector less EDM instruments are also used for measuring
vertical distances.

(b) Spirit/ Differential levelling (direct levelling): is that branch of

levelling in which differences in the elevation can be found out
by using the vertical distances with respect to the horizontal line
(perpendicular to the direction of gravity). In this method the
spirit level combined with telescope is used to find the vertical
distances. It is also called as direct levelling. It is most precise
method of determining elevations and is used by the engineers.



There are two steps in leveling: to find out by how much amount the line of sight
is above the bench mark, and to ascertain by how much amount the next point is
below or above the line of sight. This operation is generally known as direct
leveling or differential leveling. The knowledge of handling the level equipment,
running and adjusting simple leveling loops, and performing some project
surveys to obtain data for field and office use, is also important. Some special
variations of differential leveling, useful or necessary in certain situations, e.g.
profile leveling, cross-section leveling are also frequently used.
The procedure of differential leveling can be understood by simple example. The
distance between two points A and B has been divided into three parts by
choosing two additional points on which staff readings (both plus sight and
minus sight) have been taken. Points 1 and 2 are turning points. If the R.L. of
point A is 240.000 m, the height of first setting of instrument is = 240.000 +
2.024 = 242.024 m. The next F.S. is 1.420, te R.L. of T.P. 1 = 242.024 1.420 =
240.604 m. By similar procedure, R.L. of T.P. 2 = 240.490 m and R.L. of B =
241.202 m.

Differential leveling



Determining the locations of points and orientations of lines frequently depends

on measurements of angles and directions. In surveying, directions are given by
azimuths and bearings. Angles measured in surveying are classified as either
horizontal or vertical, depending on the plane in which they are measured.

Horizontal angles are the basic measurements needed for determining bearings
and azimuths.
Vertical (or zenith) angles are used in trigonometric leveling, stadia, and for
reducing measured slope distances to horizontal. Angles are most often directly
measured in the field with the transits, theodolites, compasses and total station
Three basic requirements determine an angle. (a) Reference or starting line, (b)
direction of turning, and (c) angular distance (value of the angle).


Units of angle measurement

A purely arbitrary unit defines the value of an angle. The sexagesimal system
used in most countries, is based on degrees, minutes, and seconds, with the last
unit further divided decimally. Radians may be more suitable in computations,
and in fact are employed in digital computers.

Direction of a line
A magnetic meridian is defined by a freely suspended magnetic needle that is only
influenced by the earth's magnetic field. Surveys based on a state or other plane
coordinate system employ a grid meridian for reference.



The bearing of a line is defined as the acute horizontal angle between a reference
meridian and the line. The angle is measured from either the north or south
toward the east or west, to give a reading smaller than 90. The proper quadrant
is shown by the letter N or S preceding the angle, and E or W following it. Thus, a
properly expressed bearing includes quadrant letters and an angular value. An
example is N80E. In fig. 1.2(a), all bearings in quadrant NOE are measured
clockwise from the meridian. Thus the bearing of line OA is N70E. All bearings
in quadrant SOE are counterclockwise from the meridian, so OB is S35E.
Similarly, the bearing of OC is S55W and that of OD, N30W.
Thus if bearing AB is N44E, bearing BA is S44W.

(a) Bearing angles


(b) forward and back bearings



A plan is the graphical representation, to same scale, of the features on,

near or below the surface of the earth as projected on a horizontal plane of
the paper on which the plan is drawn. However, since the surface of the
earth is curved and the paper of the plan or map is plane, no part of the
surface can be represented on such maps without distortion. In plane
surveying, the areas involved are small, the earths surface may be
regarded as plane and hence map is constructed by orthographic
projection without measurable distortion.
The representation is called a map if the scale is small while it is called a
plan if the scale is large. On a plan, generally, only horizontal distance and
directions are shown. On a topographic map, however, the vertical
distances are also represented by contour lines, hachures or other


The area that is vast and, therefore, plans are made to some scale. Scale is
the fixed ratio that very distance on the plan bears with corresponding
distance on the ground. Scale can be represented by the following methods:
(1) One can on the plan represents some whole number of meters on
the ground, such as 1 cm = 10 m etc. This type of scale is called
engineers scale.
(2) One unit of length on the plan represents some number of same
units of length on the ground, as

etc. This ratio of map

distance to the corresponding ground distance is independent of

unit of measurement and is called representative fraction. The
representative fraction (abbreviated as R.F.) can be very easily found
for a given engineers scale. For example, if the scale is 1 cm = 50 m
R.F .


50 100 5000

The above two types of scales of scales are also known as numerical
(3) An alternative way of representing the scale is to draw on the plan a
graphical scale. A graphical scale is a line sub-divided into plan
distance corresponding to convenient units of length on the ground.
If the plan or map is to be used after a few years, the numerical
scales may not give accurate results if the sheet or paper shrinks.
However, if a graphical scale is also drawn, it will shrink


proportionately and the distances can be found accurately. That is

why, scales are always drawn on all survey maps.
Survey of India (head office at Dehradun) and NATMO (National Atlas and
Thematic Mapping Organization head office at Kolkata) are the official
publishers of maps for the territory of India. These organizations surveys,
prepares and publishes various types of topographic and thematic maps,
which are very informative and are almost inevitable before the planning of
any engineering project.
Survey of India deals with all survey matters, such as, geodesy,
photogrammetry, mapping and map reproduction. It provides all geodetic
controls (horizontal and vertical) and is responsible for surveys and
mapping within India. It publishes various topographical maps,
aeronautical charts, district planning maps etc. The various types of maps
published by Survey of India and their corresponding scales are given in
table 1.
Table 1: Types of maps publishes by NATMO
Type of maps


Topographical maps


State maps


General wall maps

1:2.5M to 1:40M

Plastic relief maps


Tourist Map series


Guide maps


I.C.A.O. (World Aeronautical) charts


Trekking maps


Discover India series


District Planning Map series




















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