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TS 5 GNSS and Indoor Navigation

Comparison of Different Methods of

Underground Survey
Loris Redovnikovi1, Baldo Stani1, Vlado Cetl1

1 Faculty of Geodesy, University of Zagreb, Kaieva 26, Zagreb, Croatia,

loris.redovnikovic@geof.hr, bstancic@geof.hr, vcetl@geof.hr

Abstract. The main goal of this paper is to investigate application possibilities

of different instruments and surveying methods on underground objects. The
Grapeva cave on the island of Hvar in Croatia was selected as a test area. The
cave was surveyed by polar and digital photogrammetric method. Total station,
DistoX2 (Paperless Cave Surveying System) and digital still camera were the
instruments used to conduct the survey. The obtained results of the data
processing were analyzed, and the conclusions related to the possibilities of
application, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method are

Keywords: DistoX2, photogrammetry, total station, underground surveying.

1. Introduction
Very intensive development of technology provides surveyors a great variety
of different instruments and methods for data collecting and processing. The
survey of open space is greatly facilitated with GNSS. The surveyors are now
facing the challenge to survey the areas where the use of GNSS is not applicable.
The options for surveying of such areas are the subject of this paper. So far, there
has been several papers published on this subject [Redovnikovi et al. 2014] and
[Ballesteros et al. 2013], but there are still many questions to be answered. In
order to achieve this goal, the additional research related to cave survey was
conducted, and for this purpose, the Grapeva cave on the island of Hvar was
The Grapeva cave is located on the southern slopes of the island of Hvar,
near the hamlet of Humac. It is well known for its archaeological findings from
the Late Neolithic (Hvar culture), Eneolithic period (ceramics of Nakovana and
Ljubljansa culture, Adriatic type) to the Bronze Age (Illyrian pottery) [URL 1].
The cave is 25 m long and 32 m wide and located at the altitude of 223 m on
hardly accessible terrain. In 1964, the cave was proclaimed a protected natural
monument being ever since taken care of by the association "Humac". Various
surveying methods were used for the cave survey on 15th and 16th of June 2015.

SIG 2016 International Symposium on Engineering Geodesy, 2022 May 2016, Varadin, Croatia

2. Field survey
Three points of geodetic basis (G1, G2, and G3) were stabilized in the front
of the cave entrance [Figure 3.1]. Their coordinates were determined by means of
GNSS (Trimble R10) and CROPOS in the state HTRS96/TM coordinate system.
Thus, the whole area of survey was positioned in space in absolute coordinates.
Total station (Topcon Cygnus KS-102) was used for precise survey of the cave.
It has declared angular measurement precision of 2 and distance measurement
precision of (2 mm + 2 ppm) if measured with prism or (3 mm + 2 ppm) if
measured without prism [URL 2].
The cave was also surveyed with DistoX2 system. It consists of hand laser
distance meter (Leica X310) [URL 3]. It has declared distance measurement
precision of 2 mm. An electronic chip that enables the reading of azimuth angle
and elevation angle with the precision of 0.5 [URL 4] has been installed in it. It
has the possibility to store up to 1000 measured values. It can also send measured
values by means of Bluetooth connection. The system can function as a stand-
alone device, but its full functionality is the best when it connects via Bluetooth
to an external (mobile) device (smartphone or tablet). There are a few free
applications that can be used to receive and map measured data from DistoX2 in
real time. For Windows OS, the most commonly used is the PocketTopo
application [URL 5], while the application called TopoDroid is most often used
for Android OS. In this research, the TopoDroid application was used. It was
installed on a mobile device Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which enabled precise and
simple mapping of the cave details in the real time.
The survey conducted with DistoX2 system resulted with 14 control points
and 134 detail points. There were also 14 control points surveyed both with total
station and with DistoX2 system. Out of these 14 control points, 8 of them were
used as orientation points for photogrammetric survey [Figure 2.1].

Figure 2.1 Orientational points on a part of the Grapeva cave

TS 5 GNSS and Indoor Navigation

A part of the cave was surveyed by means of photogrammetric survey

method using the digital still camera Canon PowerShot SX220 [URL 7].
The survey conducted with the total station resulted with 7 traverse points
and 114 detail points.
The problem of insufficient lighting was encountered during
photogrammetric survey. In order to eliminate the problem, two powerful caving
lamps (Scurion) were used. There was also a problem with stabilization of
orientation points. At the entrance area, it was possible to glue up the orientation
points to the cave wall. However, it was an impossible mission in all other areas
of the cave because of moister and dust on the walls. It was well known from
earlier experience that the marks for orientation points must be plasticized after
being printed in order to avoid their bending due to the impact of moisture.

3. Data processing and analysis of the results

The data collected by means of total station were processed by means of the
software GeoMIR4 [URL 8], while the data collected with DistoX2 system were
processed by means of the two most widely used caving software Therion [URL
9] and Compass [URL 10].
It is evident from [Figure 3.1] that the DistoX2 surveying system made it
possible to survey some parts of the cave that could not be surveyed with total

Figure 3.1 Cave ground plan surveyed with DistoX2 system and mapped with Therion
software (blue) and the ground plan of the cave obtained with total station (red)

SIG 2016 International Symposium on Engineering Geodesy, 2022 May 2016, Varadin, Croatia

There is a very low north-western part of the cave where it was not possible
to set up a total station. From the traverse point P7, through the small holes,
two points were observed. From their position, the wall in the western part of the
cave was visible that could not be completely surveyed from the traverse point
P7. Since it was not possible to set up the instrument in that part of the cave, it
was surveyed only with DistoX2 system.
During the surveying and data processing, special attention was paid to the
part of the cave where the orientation points for photogrammetric survey were
placed. The floor plan arrangement of the orientation points that were determined
with the total station and DistoX2 system is shown in the following figure [Figure

Figure 3.2 Variations of position for orientation points surveyed with total station and
DistoX2 system
The orientation points were observed from the traverse point P3. The
coordinates obtained with DistoX2 system differed depending on the software that
was used to process and depending on whether the alignment was carried out
based on closing figures. Table 3.1 shows the values of the deviation between
aligned coordinates supplied by DistoX2 system and the coordinates obtained
with the total station. The average and standard deviations are also given.
Based on the analysis, Therion software proved to be a better choice
compared to Compass. Therion provided the possibility to choose the state

TS 5 GNSS and Indoor Navigation

coordinate system HTRS96/TM, which was not possible with Compass. In

addition, Therion software can automatically generate .pdf files with top and
profile view, while with Compass, we have to use some other tools for mapping.
The disadvantage of Therion is that the computations are quite hidden from the
user and they are not so intuitive. On the other hand, Compass has great a tool
for searching blunders and a lot of statistical information about the cave. Both
software offers the option of adjustments when it comes to closing figure or if we
define fixed coordinates. Both software have also the possibility to produce 3D
model of caves.
Table 3.1 The differences of the coordinates obtained using a total station and DistoX2
system (m)
Total station DistoX2 (Therion) Total station DistoX2 (Compass)
Pt. nr. dE dN dH dE dN dH Pt. nr.
15 0.14 0.19 -0.01 0.16 0.24 -0.01 15
30 0.10 0.17 0.00 0.12 0.21 -0.01 30
28 0.09 0.16 -0.01 0.11 0.21 -0.01 28
29 0.07 0.17 0.00 0.09 0.22 0.00 29
27 0.13 0.19 0.03 0.15 0.24 0.02 27
25 0.11 0.17 0.01 0.13 0.21 0.01 25
26 0.08 0.17 0.02 0.10 0.21 0.01 26
14 0.12 0.14 0.00 0.15 0.18 -0.01 14
Average 0.11 0.17 0.01 0.12 0.21 0.01 Average
St. dev. 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.02 St. dev

The area that was measured with photogrammetric method was a vertical
wall of the cave, which is about 4 meters long and about 1.5 meters high. This
part of the cave was used as an average detail that is prevalent in the cave. 39
photos were taken with different points of view to provide the best possible photo
overlap. The point cloud is generated from photos using the software 3DSurvey
[URL 11]. The generated point cloud contained about 3.7 million points [Figure

Figure 3.3 Point cloud generated based on the coordinates of orientation points
obtained with total station
SIG 2016 International Symposium on Engineering Geodesy, 2022 May 2016, Varadin, Croatia

The aim of the research was to compare the accuracy of the point cloud that
would be generated by means of the coordinates of orientation points obtained
with DistoX2 system. The same photos were used for the production of one point
cloud with the coordinates of orientation points obtained with total station and
of the other point with the coordinates of orientation points obtained with
DistoX2 system in Therion software. The comparison of the obtained point cloud
was made by means of the free software CloudCompare [URL 12].
Two point clouds were overlapped on the basis of 900 000 common points.
Statistical result of the deviations is given in the following table [Table 3.2].
Table 3.2 Statistical calculation of linear deviations between two point clouds given in
Min dist. 0
Max dist. 0.233813
Avg dist. 0.00772733
Sigma 0.0179494
Max error 0.0213441

Graphical representation gives a clearer picture of where the deviations occur

and in what amounts [Figure 3.4].

Figure 3.4 Linear deviations of the points clouds obtained with total station and with
DistoX2 system given in (m)
TS 5 GNSS and Indoor Navigation

From the previous image [Figure 3.4] it is evident that the linear deviations
between two point clouds are mostly less than 4 cm. For some small parts in the
middle of the surveyed object, these deviations are between 5 and 10 cm, while
the maximum deformation that amounts to approximately 20 cm can be found
on the outskirts of the point cloud that are generally not the object of interest.

4. Conclusion
Based on the collected data and conducted analysis, we can conclude that
the accuracy of the coordinates obtained with DistoX2 systems are quite
satisfactory for the cave surveying needs. Of course, if we want to measure certain
parts of the cave more precisely, it would be necessary to use a total station or a
3D laser scanner. The problem is that such equipment is not suitable for
measuring the unfavourable parts such as narrow meanders and low or vertical
parts of the cave. In addition, such equipment is quite expensive.
The advantages of DistoX2 system are that it is small, lightweight, portable
and as such very suitable for measuring narrow, low and vertical space that is
often found in caves. In addition to the advantage of mobility, it is also possible
to map the details on the spot and in the real-time enabling higher quality
mapping directly on the ground. It is possible to export data in a variety of
specialized software tools that are generally free and offer various possibilities of
finding blunders, adjustment, statistical calculations and many others.
Based on the representations of the analysis results, it was concluded that
the application of photogrammetric methods for the determination of the 3D point
cloud in the cave is possible. Due to poor lighting, the photographing takes
relatively long time. The processing with a large number of photos can also take
time. For these reasons, photogrammetric methods in this form are not suitable
for surveying large cave systems, but it is suitable for imaging and 3D display of
certain smaller part of the cave. These parts of the cave might be interesting to
other researchers, such as geologists, archaeologists, palaeontologists, biologists
and others, because of their special features. The point cloud thus obtained
provides a variety of spatial information that can help in making conclusions to
those who do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate in the caves.
This research showed that the point cloud generated on the basis of the
orientation points determined with DistoX2 system is very similar to the point
cloud that is determined based on orientation points whose coordinates are
obtained with total stations. Therefore, we can conclude that it is possible to use
DistoX2 system to determine the coordinates of orientation points if we are
satisfied with decimetre accuracy of a point cloud.
One of the following studies will examine the possibilities of applying the
method of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) for surveying caves.

We thank to Association ''Humac'' for the trust and support they have
provided for us during this research.
SIG 2016 International Symposium on Engineering Geodesy, 2022 May 2016, Varadin, Croatia

This research was supported by the Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ)

under the number I-2485-2014; DEMLAS project.

Ballesteros, D.; Domnguez-Cuesta, M. J.; Jimnez-Snchez, M.; Gonzlez-
Pumariega, P. (2013). Tape-compass-clinometer, DistoX or total station,
what is the best method to elaborate a cave survey? A case study in El
Pindal Cave, Spain, Poster, 8th International conference (AIG) on
Geomorphology, 27-31 August, Paris.
Redovnikovi, L.; Ivkovi, M.; Cetl, V.; Sambunjak, I. (2014). Testing DistoX
device for measuring in the unfavourable conditions, Proceedings of the 6th
International Conference on Engineering Surveying, Kopik, A.; Kyrinovi,
P.; troner, M. (ed.), Pregue: Czech Technical University, Faculty of Civil
Engineering, pp. 269-274
URL 1: Croatia encyclopedia network edition, Grapeva pilja,
http://www.enciklopedija.hr/Natuknica.aspx?ID=23140, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 2: 2LS Tools Cygnus Specifications,
http://www.2ls-tools.com/en/products/cygnus/specifications, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 3: Manual Leica Disto X310,
DISTO%20X310%20MAN%20788479_en.pdf, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 4: 2LS DistoX2 User Manual,
http://paperless.bheeb.ch/download/DistoX2_UserManual.pdf, (14. 3.
URL 5: PocketTopo User Manual,
http://paperless.bheeb.ch/download/PocketTopoManual.pdf, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 6: TopoDroid User Manual,
http://marcocorvi.altervista.org/caving/apps/tdmanual/index.htm, (14. 3.
URL 7: Canon Powershot SX220,
Zoom-Digital-Camera-/220883054031, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 8: GeoMIR4,
http://www.geomir.org/cms/index.php/download/category/4-geomir4, (14.
3. 2016).
URL 9: Therion, http://therion.speleo.sk/, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 10: Compass Cave Survey and Mapping Software,
http://www.fountainware.com/compass/, (14. 3. 2016).
TS 5 GNSS and Indoor Navigation

URL 11: Compass Cave Survey and Mapping Software,

http://www.fountainware.com/compass/, (14. 3. 2016).
URL 12: CloudCompare, http://www.danielgm.net/cc/, (14. 3. 2016).

Usporedba razliitih metoda izmjere

Saetak. Cilj rada je istraiti mogunost primjene razliitih instrumenata i
metoda mjerenja za izmjeru podzemnih objekata. Kao testno podruje odabrana
je Grapeva pilja na otoku Hvaru. pilja je izmjerena polarnom i digitalnom
fotogrametrijskom metodom izmjere uz koritenje mjerne (totalne) stanice,
DistoX2 (sustava za bespapirnu izmjeru pilja) i digitalnog fotoaparata. Nakon
provedene izmjere i obrade podataka analizirani su dobiveni rezultati te doneseni
zakljuci u pogledu mogunosti primjene, prednostima i nedostacima svake od

Kljune rijei: DistoX2, fotogrametrija, mjerna stanica, podzemna izmjera.

*scientific paper