Land Surveying Techniques

Land surveys are used to determine land boundaries for a variety of reasons, including the selling or buying a property, putting up a fence or larger scale projects such as building roads and highways. While there are many different land surveying techniques, there are five fundamental ones that are used the most often. These five techniques can be used alone or, most often, in a combination of some form or another.


Triangulation – This technique uses a series of fixed points or stations in the area to be measured. These stations are connected as triangles, joining and overlapping each other. From these points, angles are measured. This is the most commonly used of the land surveying techniques and is also the most efficient in that it minimizes the number of different measurements that are needed.


Trilateration – Using the same principles as described in the triangulation method of land surveying techniques, trilateration adds electronic distance measuring equipment. This allows for faster and easier mapping of uneven and rough terrain.


Leveling – This technique is used to determine land elevations. It begins with a fixed point such as a metal pole and uses a leveling instrument to move up and down an area, determining height at specific points along the way. Each one of these points provides part of the calculation, which is determined using trigonometry methods. The most common use for this type of land surveying technique is in determining information for elevation maps.


Traverse – The method in which a series of lines with predetermined and measured distances and lengths are used to connect together at various points in determined location. These traverse lines can be open or closed and can be easily moved around uneven terrain or obstacles that are in the way. This technique is most often used in the surveying for new roads, railroads and other such linear projects.


Radiation – Most commonly used along with a plane table, this land surveying technique is often used in conjunction with triangulation and traverse methods of measurement. This method takes a fixed position above a ground location in which various points are taken along the boundary line then drawn out on paper. Once drawn out, the distance is measured and converted to the necessary scale on the survey sheets.


Land surveying is important in the clarification of land boundaries, whether for residential or commercial use. By having proper land surveys on file, there is no need to worry about boundary disputes.