What is Surveying? – Definition and Objective

What is Surveying?

What is Surveying?: Surveying is defined as the art and science of establishing the respective position of points located on the surface of the earth and to measure the distance and angles between them and then by preparing a map to a suitable scale according to the user preference.

This discipline states that the measurements are taken on the horizontal plane only. The land surveying is performed by a professional called a land surveyor. These points on the surface of the earth are often used for establishing maps and boundaries for determining the right of possession, locating the corner points of buildings for construction purposes, etc.

For determining the relative vertical distance of different points the method used is termed as leveling. Therefore, in leveling the measurements are taken in the vertical plane.


Total Station Surveying


Objective of Surveying:

The primary objective of surveying is to prepare a map to show the respective positions of the points of objects located on the surface of the earth which is then used for the preparation of plans of different construction works such as buildings, roads, railways, canals, etc..

The map is prepared on a suitable scale. The map basically shows the natural features of terrain such as towns, villages, roads, railways, rivers, etc.

Instruments and equipment used for Surveying:

  1. Total Station


    surveying meaning
  2. Theodolite
    Theodolite surveying
  3. Auto level
    Auto level surveying
  4. Dumpy level
    Dumpy level surveying
  5. Measuring Tape
    Measuring tape surveying
  6. Tripod Stand
    tripod stand used in surveying
  7. Ranging Rod
    surveying meaning
  8. Staff Level
    staff level surveying
  9. Spirit Level
    spirit level used in surveying
  10. Plumb Bob
    plumb bob used for centering in surveying
  11. 3D Scanner3D scanner used in surveying
  12. Compass
    Magnetic Compass used for surveying
  13. GPS


Principle of Surveying :

The general principles of surveying are mentioned below:

In the first principle, we work from whole to the part i.e. the whole area is first enclosed by main station points (i.e. controlling stations) and main survey lines (i.e. controlling lines).

And then the area is divided into well-conditioned triangles (a nearly equilateral triangle is preferred). In this method, if there is an error in the measurement of any side of the triangle then it will not affect the whole work. The error can always be detected and eliminated in this procedure,

In the second principle, we locate a new station by at least two measurements ( linear or angular) from fixed reference points.

Linear measurement refers to the measurement of horizontal distances using chain or tape while angular measurement refers to the measurement of magnetic bearing or horizontal angle using a prismatic compass or theodolite.


Classification of Surveying :

  • Primary Classification
  • Secondary Classification

 A. Primary Classification

Surveying is primarily classified as under:

  1. Plane Surveying
  2. Geodetic Surveying

1. Plane Surveying:

We know that the surface of the earth is curved. But in plane surveying, the curvature of the earth is not taken into consideration and the surface is considered as a plane surface. This surveying is carried out over a small area of fewer than 250 sq km.

2. Geodetic Surveying:

In this surveying, the curvature of the earth’s surface is taken into consideration. Geodetic surveying is carried out over a large area exceeding 250 sq km.

B. Secondary Classification

1. Based on instruments or types of equipment used

  • Chain
  • Compass
  • Total Station
  • Plane table
  • Theodolite
  • Tacheometric, and
  • Photographic survey

2. Based on methods used

  • Triangulation surveying, and
  • Traverse surveying.

3. Based on objects

  • Geological surveying
  • Mine surveying
  • Archaeological surveying, and
  • Military surveying

4. Based on the nature of the field

  • Land surveying
  • Marine surveying, and
  • Astronomical surveying.




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