What is Surveying? Branches of Surveying

What is Surveying? Branches of Surveying

What is Surveying?

Surveying is the process of measuring and mapping the features of the earth’s surface. Surveyors use a variety of techniques to collect data, including land surveys, aerial surveys, and satellite imagery. This data is used to create maps, land records, and other civil engineering projects.

Surveying is described as the business of measuring land and compiling measurements into a shape, often referred to as a map. There are various branches of surveying which can be broadly categorized into two types: civil engineering and geomatics.

A branch of surveying is a profession that deals with the production, measurement, and interpretation of surveys. Surveys are often used to produce reliable and accurate information about physical objects or human behavior.

Disciplines of Surveying

Surveying encompasses a wide range of topics. During their career, a surveyor may choose to specialize in one or more disciplines, or they may gain experience in all. Surveying’s core disciplines are as follows:

Geodetic surveys

Geodetic surveys, also known as geodesy, is the measurement and monitoring of Earth’s surface based on a global reference system and dataset. Geodesy is primarily measured using GPS receivers, Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), microwave radar, or astronomical observations.

The science of measuring anything in space that affects other things in space, such as gravity or forces acting on an object. The measurement of geoids is also called geodesy.

Geodetic surveys are conducted on a national or worldwide scale to find sites that are thousands of miles apart.

This type of survey serves as a foundation for ‘lower order’ surveys. To ensure high accuracy, the effect of elements such as the curvature of the earth on observations must be addressed, and the necessary corrections must be applied.

Divisions Of Geodetic Surveying

Geodetic surveying can be divided in the following ways:

  1. Triangulation: A network of well-defined triangles is established on the area of land to be surveyed in this technique of surveying. Only one line is known as the base line, and all other angles are meticulously measured.
  2. Reciprocal Leveling: This surveying method is used to determine the difference in levels between two places separated by obstacles.
  3. Stadia or Tacheometric Surveying: This is a method of surveying that computes vertical and horizontal distances from stadia readings without the use of chain or tape.
  4. Astronomical Surveying: This is a branch of surveying in which the meridian, azimuth, latitude, time, and so on of a location on the earth’s surface are established by observing some bodies such as the sun and fixed stars.
  5. Photographic Surveying: This is a surveying approach in which plans or maps are created using images collected from appropriate camera stations.

Topographic surveys

Topographic surveys are used to measure and make accurate maps of the surface of the earth. These surveys can be done using any number of different instruments such as a magnetic compass, stereoscopic map and Compass, sextant, telescope, or sextant. Because topographic surveying is essentially a measurement, there is a strong tendency to use mathematical methods in doing these measurements.

Topographic surveying involves:

  1. Ordnance Survey: Ordnance is an acronym for ‘Ordnance Survey. It is the national mapping agency of Great Britain.
  2. Real Property Survey: This survey method uses specific points, lines, and planes in order to determine the size and shape of a property or parcel of land.
  3. Boundary Survey: This is a type of survey that determines boundaries between adjacent properties, typically within urban areas and around parcels with complicated boundaries.

Cadastral Surveying

Cadastral surveying is the process of conducting surveys on land in order to establish the boundaries and exact positions of different pieces of property.

Cadastral surveys are done for the purpose of recording ownership, determining taxes, and protecting property rights.

Cadastral surveys provide very accurate information about a parcel such as its shape, size, location, topography, and land cover. The information compiled in cadastral surveys is typically made available to the public.

Cadastral surveys are concerned with the location and establishment of land borders. The information provided by the cadastral surveyor may be a constitutional aspect of a land registration system in various countries around the world, including the United States.

Registered land surveyors (cadastral surveyors) are the only surveyors in New South Wales who are legally permitted to conduct boundary surveys, depict details of property borders on plans, and generate subdivision and certain types of lease plans.

Engineering Or Construction Surveys

This is the process of creating a plan for any physical object, as well as an architectural drawing. It requires an understanding of construction materials and methods, alignment concepts, and measurements used in physical construction.

These are typically plane surveys, however on larger projects such as highways and pipelines, geodetic control may be required.

They are carried out to collect data required for planning, estimating, locating, and laying out various phases of building operations or projects. Reconnaissance, preliminary, location, and layout surveys are all examples of this type of survey.

Engineering and/or construction surveys are then part of a set of actions that culminate in the construction of a man-made structure. The term structure is typically used to refer to something made of structural members, such as a building or a bridge.

However, it is used in a broader meaning here to cover all man-made elements such as graded areas, sewer, electricity, and water lines, roads and highways, and shoreline structures.

Construction surveys often encompass regions deemed small enough to be covered by aircraft surveying methods and techniques.

Hydrographic Surveying

Hydrographic surveying involves obtaining measurements beneath the sea’s surface, in harbors and rivers, and on the neighboring coasts.

These measurements are used to create charts of canals and the sea for ships and boats to ensure a safe passage, as well as for the design of infrastructure such as docks and jetties at ports and harbors.

They are able to produce a view of the sea bed without getting their feet wet, allowing the discovery of shipwrecks and other artifacts lost at sea.

Mining surveying

Mining Surveying is a specialized type of surveying that deals with the collection and analysis of data related to the extraction of ores, minerals, or gemstones. The data collected is used to determine the underground extent of an ore deposit and its possible resources.

Mining surveyors work on the design, development, and operation of numerous mines. These mines can be either open pit or underground.

Coal, metalliferous, and mineral sands mines are examples of mines. Each of these types of mining necessitates the expertise of a qualified mining surveyor.

A mining surveyor’s responsibilities may include laying out drill patterns, excavations, and conveyors, detecting underground highways and voids, taking measurements for volume calculations, monitoring ground movement, land management, and preparing statutory mine plans.

Mine surveyors in NSW are registered to provide a level of expertise compatible with ensuring statutory compliance and mine safety.

Mining Surveyors Registered in NSW are the only surveyors legally permitted to conduct mining surveys and represent mining survey and mine working data on plans prepared for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013.

Remote Sensing

This is the science and art of getting information about an object, region, or phenomenon by analyzing, interpreting, categorizing, and identifying data acquired by a technology that is not in contact with the object, area, or phenomenon under inquiry. Sensors collect data from a distance.

These sensors measure and record the variation in electromagnetic energy emitted or reflected by diverse earth surface features.

They are typically piloted from flying platforms. The data collected could be in any form – force distribution variation, acoustic wave distribution, or electromagnetic energy distribution.

Photogrammetric Surveying

This is a specialized type of surveying that utilizes photogrammetrical techniques, data collection methods, and procedures to obtain measurements from aerial or space-based photography.

In light of these developments, photogrammetry is now defined as the science, art, and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through processes of recording, measuring, and interpreting photographic images, as well as recorded electromagnetic energy patterns and other phenomena.

Photogrammetric surveys are primarily concerned with the remote sensing of man-made objects, natural features, and phenomena, as well as the three-dimensional aspect of their shape.

A photogrammetric survey may be carried out to gather data required for analysis or engineering computation. They may also be conducted purely for topographic mapping purposes.

Bear in mind:

Geographic information systems (GIS) / spatial professionals are allied professionals who frequently collaborate with surveyors in fields where location is of relevance.

However, Surveyors who work in other sectors and professions have abilities and experience that differ from Surveyors who work in the spatial/measurement field, despite the fact that they share the title of Surveyor:

Asbestos Surveyor – An asbestos surveyor is a person who has sufficient training, qualifications, knowledge, experience, and ability to sample and identify asbestos, has sufficient knowledge of the tasks required and the risks associated with the work, is independent of parties involved in repair or demolition work, and can work within a quality management system.

Health/Building Surveyor – Traditionally, these surveyors worked for Local Government (Councils) as building inspectors, but are now also found in private businesses as certifiers.

Marine Surveyor- A marine surveyor is someone who is competent in the identification, measurement, and description of the physical features of coastal, inland waters, and marine environments.

Quantity Surveyor- A quantity surveyor is a qualified professional who understands the financial and commercial implications of building work.

He or she appraises building design, plans, and specifications with a view to expressing an opinion as to the likely costs in order to allow an informed decision to be made by the client before any contracts are let.

In conclusion

Surveying is an essential component of the physical and human environments. It provides a scientific basis for the production and use of maps, charts, plans, and models.

A surveyor’s work is fundamental to a country’s economic development as well as for the welfare of its population. Surveying affects your life in more ways than you may imagine.


How many types of surveying are there?

Surveying can be categorized into two broad groups: Plane surveying and Geodetic surveying.

Plane surveying is the type of surveying that involves the horizontal and vertical measurements of large areas.

Geodetic surveying is the one that takes place in the earth’s curvature, in connection with triangulation, leveling, and geomagnetic or astronomical observations.

What is the principle of the survey?

  • Always work from whole to part
  • Locate a new station by at least two measurements (linear or angular) from fixed reference points

are two basic principles of surveying.

The area is initially bounded by main stations (control stations) and main survey lines.

What’s the purpose of surveying?

It serves a number of purposes:

  • To delineate and measure land, building, and other physical objects.
  • To establish boundaries and resolve disputes over them.
  • To determine the coordinates of properties in terms of latitude and longitude.
  • To establish the elevations of areas (relief).

When will you need a surveyor?

When you are contemplating buying or selling real estate, starting construction on land you own, or undertaking any sort of development work on land that you would like to develop in the future.

Surveying is not a simple matter of just going out there and drawing a map; it’s much more involved than that.

A professional surveyor will be able to survey your land efficiently, provide high-quality maps and other documents, and offer sound advice on issues like property boundaries, building plans, and ownership rights.

What is the difference between a surveyor and a land surveyor?

A surveyor is a generalist that takes measurements in the field to create maps, plans or models of real property.

A land surveyor is a professional who specializes in the identification of location and boundaries for real property. They may also specialize in land use planning or environmental issues.

What are the four main branches of land surveying?

  • Topographic surveys.
  • Hydrographic surveys.
  • Geodetic surveys.
  • Cadastral surveys.

How the surveying is classified based on purpose?

Surveying has been categorized into the following categories based on the purpose (for which it is conducted): Control surveying is the process of establishing the horizontal and vertical placements of control points.

What are the three basic principles of surveying?

  • Linear or angular measurements from fixed reference points.
  • It’s always better to make at least 2 measurements to locate any new point.
  • Points must be in sequence; a point is never taken out of sequence, otherwise, it will throw off the entire project.

What’s the importance of surveying in construction?

Construction work cannot go on without professional surveys because they help to determine the following: The scope of work and cost by providing accurate area and volume calculations.

General survey of earth, land, or rock by simple procedures that indicate the elevation deficiencies and facilitate a preliminary design of the site. The accuracy of all construction plans is maintained by topographic, engineering and legal surveys.

What are the basics of surveying?

Surveying is the process of establishing the relative position of natural and man-made features on or beneath the earth’s surface, presenting this information graphically in the form of plans or numerically in the form of tables, and laying down measures on the earth’s surface.

How do you become a surveyor?

Candidates must have a three-year diploma in civil engineering or a two-year ITI in land surveying from a recognized institution accredited by the State Board of Technical Education.

What is boundary surveying?

It involves the determination of the location and dimensions of legal property lines and boundaries, i.e., township, plot, lot, and acreage.

What do surveyors get paid?

In general, a surveyor can earn between $40,000 and $90,000 per year depending on his geographical location.

Surveying is an ideal career for students interested in math and science as it offers ample opportunities for advancement and hands-on experience.

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