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i- To develop an understanding of surveying & leveling theory and practice.
ii- To develop an ability to translate survey information for design and construction purposes.
iii- To develop a skill in the use of survey instruments.

The course provides an overview of surveying & leveling practice and demonstrates an
understanding of area control by theodolite and compass. It explains the methods of establishing
the contours of an area by field exercise. It includes exercises in setting out and controlling
complex construction works.
Recommended Book: Surveying and leveling by N N Basak

Wee Chapter No. / Topic(s) Book No. Chapter No.


1 Surveying, Definition , Applications, Classification of 1 1

surveying, General principles of surveying, Methods of linear
measurement , Accessories of linear measurement

2 Methods of ranging (Direct and Indirect), Testing a chain, 1 1

Degree of accuracy in chaining, Leader and Follower, Methods
of chaining; on level ground and sloping ground

3 Obstacles in chaining and their subsequent solutions, 1 1

Determination of height of an object using tape and ranging
rods only

4 Tape corrections (due to temperature, pull, slope, sag, and 1 1

normal tension.)

5 Numerical problems on Obstacles in chaining, Tape 1 1


6 Triangulation, well-conditioned and ill-conditioned triangles, 1 2

Reconnaissance survey and index sketch, Selection of survey
stations, Equipment used in triangulation survey

7 Traversing, Types of Traverse, WCB, Quadrantal bearing, 1 3

Reduced bearing, Fore and Back bearing, Methods of
traversing, Checks on open and closed traverse


8 Numericals Traversing 1 3

9 Mid-Term Examinations

10 Plane Table surveying, Principle, Accessories of Plane Table, 1 4

Procedure of setting up Plane Table over a station, Methods of
Plane Tabling, Advantages and Disadvantages of Plane

11 Levelling, Terminology, Types of levels, Dumpy level, 1 5

Temporary adjustment of a level, Differential levelling,
Reciprocal levelling, Profile levelling, Sources of errors in

12 Contouring, Terminology, Objective of Contour map, uses of 1 6

contour map, Characteristics of contours, Methods of

13 Theodolite, Terminology, Functions of a theodolite, Types, 1 9

Reading the vernier theodolite, Temporary adjustment of
theodolite, Measurement of horizontal and vertical angles,
Computation of latitude and departure

14 Tacheometry, Instruments used in tacheometry, Principle of 1 11, 14

tacheometer, Method of tacheometry, Setting out a building

15 Introduction to Total station, GPS, RS, Hydrographic 1 13


16 Review

17 - Final Examination


Introduction to surveying
This chapter includes:
Surveying, Definition , Applications, Classification of surveying, General principles of
surveying, Methods of linear measurement , Accessories of linear measurement.

It is the art of determination of horizontal distances, differences in elevation, directions, angles,
locations, areas and volumes on or near the surface of the earth. It involves the measurement and
recording of the size and shape (including the vertical shape) of an area on the earth’s surface.
The process of survey is divided into two parts:
 Field work- taking measurements
 Office work- computing and drawing.

Object of survey:
The primary object of survey is the preparation of plan or map. The results of surveys when
plotted and drawn on paper constitute a plan. A plan is, the representation to some scale, of the
ground and the objects upon it as projected on a horizontal plane, which is represented by the
plane of the paper on which the plan is drawn. The representation is called a map, if the scale is
small. If the scale is large, it is called a plan. On plan, only horizontal distances are shown. The
scale of a map is the fixed relation that, every distance on the map bears to the corresponding
distance on the ground. Suppose, if one cm on a map represents 5 m on the ground, the scale of a
map is 5m to 1 cm.

Primary division of surveying:

Surveying may be divided into two general classes:
(a) Geodetic surveying
(b) Plane surveying
Geodetic surveying:
It is also called Trigonometrical surveying. The object of a geodetic surveying is to
determine the precise positions on the surface of the earth of a system of widely distant points
and the dimensions of areas. In this survey, the curvature of the earth is taken into account, since
large distances and areas are covered. Artificial earth satellites have come into wide use in this
Plane surveying:
In this survey, the earth’s surface is considered as a plane. The curvature of
the earth is not taken into account, as the surveys extend only to small areas. The line joining any
two points as a straight line and all angles are plane angles. Surveys normally carried out for the
location and construction of roads, canals and, buildings. In general, the surveys necessary for
the works of man are plane surveys.

Classification of surveying:
Surveys may be classified in a variety of ways.
I. Classification based upon the nature of the field of survey:
(a) Land Surveys.


(b) Marine or Navigation Surveys.
(c) Astronomical Surveys.

II. Classification upon the object of survey:

(i) Archaeological surveys.
(ii) Geological Surveys -for determining different strata in the earth’s crust.
(iii) Mine Surveys- for exploring mineral wealth such as gold, coal, etc.
(iv) Military Surveys- for determining points of strategic importance both offensive and

III. Classification based upon the methods employed in survey:

(a) Triangulation Surveys.
(b) Traverse Surveys.

IV. Classification based upon the instrument employed:

(i) Chain Surveys.
(ii) Theodolite Surveys.
(iii) Tacheometric Surveys.
(iv) Compass Surveys.
(v) Plane Table Surveys.
(vi) Photographic and Aerial Surveys.

Agricultural surveying:
It is a simple plane surveying. It includes laying out contour and terrace lines for soil
conservation, drainage lines, profile lines for land leveling and ditch lines for irrigation,
computing field and farm areas and laying out farm buildings and roads.

General Principles of Surveying:

The main Principle of Surveying is working from whole to the part. Two main works
done for surveying an area are the following.
1. Distance Measurement between two points.(LENGTH)
2. Clockwise Angle Measurement of a line joining two points from Magnetic Meridian.

Methods of linear measurement:

Linear surveying methods can be broadly divided into three heads:

1) Direct Measurement:

In this surveying method, distances are actually measured on the surface of the earth by
means of chains, tapes, etc.


2) Measurement by Optical Means:

In this method, observations are taken through a telescope and distances are determined
by calculation as in tachometer or triangulation.

3) Electronic Methods:

In these linear surveying methods, distances are measured with instruments that rely on
propagation, reflection and subsequent reception of either radio or light waves.

Accessories of linear measurement:

It is the method of measuring distance with a chain or tape .Of the various methods of
determining distance, chaining is the most accurate and common method. For work of ordinary
precision, a chain is used. But, where great accuracy is required, a steel tape is invariably used.
Instruments used for measuring distances
1. Chain
2. Tape
Instruments used for marking survey stations
1. Ranging rod
2. Offset rod
3. Laths and whites
4. Pegs
Instruments used for setting right angles
1. Cross staff
2. Optical square
Other instruments:
1. Arrow
2. Plumb bob
The chain is composed of 100 or 150 pieces of links, made up of 4 mm diameter galvanized mild
steel wire. The ends of each link bent into a loop and connected together by means of three oval
rings which offered flexibility to the chain and make less liable to become kinked. The joints of
the links are usually open, but in the best chains they are welded so as to render the chain less
liable to stretching. The ends of the chain provided with brass handles for dragging the chain on
the ground, each with a swivel joint, so that the chain can be turned round without twisting. The
length of a link is the distance between the centers of the two consecutive middle 7 rings. The
end links include the handles. Metallic tags or indicators of distinctive pattern are fixed at
various distinctive points of the chain to felicitate quick reading of fraction of a chain in
surveying measurements.

Metric chain


IS 1492-1956 covers requirement of chains in metric units. The chains are made in length of 20
and 30 meters .To enable the reading of fractions of a chain without much difficulty, tallies are
fixed at every five-meter length and small brass rings are provided at every meter length, except
where tallies are attached. Connecting links between two large links are oval in shape, the central
one being a circular ring. The length of the chain is marked over the handle to indicate the length
and also to distinguish from non-metallic chains. The length of each link is 0.2 m (20cm) in 20m
chain is provided with 100 links and 30 m chain divided into 150 links (Fig. 1).The advantages
of the chain are :
1. It is very suitable for rough usage
2. It can be easily repaired in the field
3. It can be easily read.


Types of chains
(1) Gunter’s Chain:

It is also called surveyor’s chain. The Gunter’s chain is 66 ft. long and is divided into 100 links .
Therefore, each end link is equal to 0.66 ft. long. It is very convenient for measuring distances in
miles and furlongs and

for measuring land when the unit of area is an acre, on account of its simple relation to the mile
and the acre.
10 Gunter’s chains – 1 furlong
80 Günter’s chains- 1 mile
10 square Gunter’s chains – 1 acre
(2) Revenue Chain:

The revenue chain is commonly used for measuring fields in cadastral survey. It is 33 ft. long
and divided into 16 links.
(3) Engineers’ Chain:
The engineer‟s chain is 100 ft. long and is divided into 100 links each link is equal to 1 ft. The
construction details are same as that of a Gunter’s chain. It is used on all engineering surveys.
The distances measured with the engineer’s chain are recorded in feet and decimals.
Steel Band: The steel band, also called the band chain, consists of a ribbon of steel with a brass
swivel handle at each end. It is 20 or 30 m long and 16 mm wide. It is wound on open steel cross,
or on a metal reel in a closed case. The graduations are marked in two ways: (a) The band is
divided by brass studs at every 0.2 m and numbered at every l m, the first and the last link being
subdivided into cm and mm, (b) The graduations are etched as meters, decimeters, centimeters
on one side and 0.2 m links on the other. Brass tallies are fixed at every 5 m length of the band. It
is best adapted to general field work and rough usage. For accurate work, the steel band is now
preferred. It is lighter and easier to handle than the chain. It is practically unalterable in length. It
must be protected from rust by frequent cleaning and oiling.
When greater accuracy is required in measurement and the ground to be surveyed is not very
rough, the tapes can be used. Tapes are 9 available both in ft. and meters. For surveying, mostly
30 m tape is used. Tapes made of various materials and are, therefore, divided into five classes:
(1) cloth or linen, (2) metallic, (3) steel, (4) invar and (5) synthetic material.
(1) Cloth or linen Tape:

It is made of varnished strip of woven linen 12 to 16 mm wide with a brass handle at zero ends,
whose length is also included in the length of the tape. The tape is attached to a spindle and is
wound in a leather case. It is very light and handy, but not so accurate. For very precise
measurements, it is not used. The linen tape may be used for taking subsidiary measurements
such as offsets. It is easily affected by damp. When the tape gets wet, it shrinks and care should
be taken that it is not wound up until is cleaned and dried. It stretches easily and is likely to twist
and tangle. It is therefore little used in surveying.


(2) Metallic Tape:
It is made from good quality cotton or linen and is reinforced with fine brass or copper wires.
This prevents stretching of fibers and is therefore, better than simple linen tapes. They are also
not suited for very precise measurements. It is made in lengths of 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50meters.
(3) Steel Tape:

It is made of steel ribbon or stainless steel, or may be provided with vinyl coating and is very
accurate. It is used for very precise measurements and for checking the accuracy of chain
lengths. The denominations of the tape measures are 1, 2, 10, 30, and 50 m. The outer end of the
tape is provided with a ring or other device facilitating withdrawal. The ring or the device is
fastened to the tape by a metal strip of the same width as the tape. The length of the tape includes
the metal ring when provided (Fig.2).

(4) Invar Tape:

For work of the highest precision, the invar tape is generally used as in measurement of base
lines in triangulation and in city work. It is made of an alloy of steel (64%) and nickel (36%) and
possesses a very low coefficient of thermal expansion (0.6 ×10-4 for 1°C). It is 6 mm wide and
may be obtained in lengths of 30 m, 50 m and 100 m.
(5) Synthetic Tape:

The tapes are manufactured of glass fiber having a PVC coating. They are graduated every 10
mm and figured every 100 mm whose metric figures are shown in red at every meter. The tapes
maintain their lengths well and are convenient for measuring short lengths.

Ranging Rods:
The ranging rods are used for ranging lines and to mark stations which are at greater distance
(Fig.3). They are made of well seasoned straight grained timber of teak, blue pine, sisso or
deodar. They are circular or octagonal in cross section of 3 cm nominal diameter and pointed
metal shoe of 15 cm long is provided at the lower end to facilitate fixing in the ground. They are


made of two sizes namely one of 2 m and the other of 3 m and are divided into equal parts each
0.2 m long. In order to make them visible at a distance, they are painted alternately black and
white, or red and white or red, white, and black successively. When they are at a considerable
distance, red and white and yellow flags about 25 cm square be fastened at the top to improve the

Arrows (Chain pins):

Accompanying each chain are 10 arrows. They are also called marking or chaining pins, and are
used to mark the end of each chain during the process of chaining. They are made of good
quality metallic wires of 4 mm (8 s. w. g.) in diameter and of a minimum tensile strength of


700N/ mm2 The wire is black enameled. The arrows are made 400 mm in length, are pointed at
one end for inserting into the ground and bent into a ring at the other end for facility of carrying.
They should have a piece of white or red tape tied to the ring so that they can be made easily
visible at a distance. To mark the end of each chain length, the arrow is inserted in the ground,
but when the ground is hard, a scratch may be made with the pointed end (Fig.4).

Plumb bob:
A plumb bob consists of a metal weight made of brass with a pointed end (Fig.5). It is suspended
by a string and is used to locate points directly below or above another point. It is also used for
accurately centering of compass or level or theodolite over a station mark, and for testing the
verticality of ranging poles.

Wooden pegs are used to mark the positions of stations. They are made of hard timber and are
tapered at one end (Fig.6). They are usually, 2.5 cm square and 15 cm long, but in soft ground,
pegs 40 to 60 cm long and 4 to 5 cm square suitable.


Off-set rod:
The off-set rod is similar to the ranging rod but is usually 3 m long and is divided into parts each
0.2 m in length. It is chiefly used for aligning the off-set line and measuring short off-sets.
Cross-staff is used for (i) finding the foot of the perpendicular from a given point to a line, and
(ii) setting out a right angle at a given point on a line. There are two types of cross-staff, namely,
(1) the open and (2) the French, the first one being in common use.
Open cross-staff:
The simplest form of cross staff is the open cross staff. It consists of two parts (1) the head and
(2) the leg. The head consists of four metal arms with vertical slits. The arms are rigidly fixed in
such a manner so that the center of one pair of arms forming a straight line makes right angle
with the other pair of arms. In one line, one of the slits is narrower than the other. One horse hair
is fixed at the center of the wider slit. The object is sighted from the narrow slit in line with the
hair. The cross staff is mounted on 25 mm diameter, about 1.5 meter long pole for fixing on the
ground (Fig.7). For laying out a right angle at a point on the chain line, the cross staff is held
vertically on the supporting pole at the given point. Ranging rod is fixed on the chain line on
either side of the cross staff and sighted through the slit and horse hair. The cross staff is turned
till the ranging rod is visible. At this time, one sight through the other pair of slits and another
person fixes a ranging rod in this line of sight. Foot of the cross staff joined with the ranging rod
gives perpendicular line with the chain line.


Optical Square
It is more accurate than the cross staff and it can be used for locating objects situated at larger
distances. It is small and compact hand instrument (Fig.8) and works on the principle of
reflection. Generally it is a round brass box about 5 cm in diameter and 1.25 cm deep. There is
also a metal cover to protect it from dust, moisture etc. As shown in fig. 8, it consists of
horizontal mirror (H) and index mirror (1) placed at an angle of 450 to each other. The mirror H
is half silvered and the upper half is plain while the mirror I is fully silvered. There are three
openings a, b and c on the sides. Let AB is the chain line and it is required to locate an object O
during the process of surveying. The optical square is held in such a manner that a ray of light
from object O passes through slot c, strikes the mirror, gets reflected and strikes the silvered
portion of the mirror H. After being reflected from H, the ray passes through the pin hole and
becomes visible to the eye. The observer looking through the hole a can directly see the ranging
rod at B through the un-silvered portion of the mirror H and the image of the ranging rod placed
at O. Thus when both the ranging rods coincide, the line OD becomes perpendicular to the chain
line. If they do not coincide, the optical square has to move back and forth to get the correct
position of D.


Ranging & Chaining
This chapter includes:
Methods of ranging (Direct and Indirect), Testing a chain, Degree of accuracy in
chaining, Leader and Follower, Methods of chaining; on level ground and sloping ground

During measurement of the length of a line, it is necessary that the chain should be laid
out on the ground in a straight line between the end stations. If the chain is long or end station is
not clearly visible, it is necessary to place intermediate ranging rods to maintain the direction.
The operation of establishing intermediate points on a straight line between the terminal points is
known as ranging. Ranging should be done prior to chaining. Ranging is usually done by eye or
by using instruments like line ranger and theodolite. Ranging is of two kinds, namely, direct and
indirect ranging.

Direct ranging:
When the end points are visible from one another, intermediate ranging rods are placed in
line by direct observation, the process is known as direct ranging.
Let us assume that A and B are end points of a survey line visible from one another. Fix
two ranging rods vertically at stations A and B of survey line. The surveyor standing behind the
ranging rod at A and looks towards B, directs the assistant to move in the chain line and
establishes an intermediate station “P”. The point “P” should lie in the straight line joining AB.
The surveyor then directs the assistant to move his ranging rod to right or left until the three
ranging rods at A, P and B appear to be exactly in a straight line. Similarly, any number of
intermediate stations can be between two end stations. Measure the distance between A and B
and record it in observation sheet.

Indirect ranging:
When the end stations of a line are not intervisible due to high ground or intervening hill
and also when the ends of a line are not distinctly visible from one another due to distance being
too great, then indirect ranging can be adopted. Various obstructions, such as ponds, hills,
buildings, rivers are continuously come across in chaining process. It is however essential that
chaining should be continued in a straight line, special methods are therefore employed in
measuring distances across the obstructions. The various cases may be classified as:

i) Chaining is free, vision is obstructed, e.g. raising ground (or) a hill intervening.
ii) Chaining obstructed but vision free, e.g. pond, river, plantations, and tank.
iii) Both chain and vision are obstructed, e.g. Buildings. There are two cases to
be considered.

Case-1: Both ends may be visible from intermediate points on the line.
Case-2: Both ends may not be visible from any intermediate point.


Procedure for case-1: Let A and B are the two stations across a hill. Ranging rods are placed at
one of them is not visible from other. The following may be followed for ranging.
1) As shown in fig.9 (a), select two intermediate points C and D such that ranging rods at B and
D are visible from C and ranging rods at A and C are visible from D. Also A, C, D, B should be
nearly as possible in a straight line.
2) The person at C looks towards B and directs the man at D to fix his ranging rod in a manner
such that C, D, B are in one straight line.
3) Now the person at D looks towards the ranging rod at A and directs the man at C to fix his
ranging rod at a place such that A, C and D are in one straight line.
4) Steps 2 and 3 above are repeated till the person at C finds C, D,. B to form a straight line and
simultaneously, the person at D finds A, C, D also to form a straight line, then all the four points
A, C, D, and B are lie in straight line.

Procedure for case 2: This case occurs, when it desired to run a line across a wooded field, the
trees and under-bush preventing the fixing of intermediate stations. In such a case, the method of
random line is the most suitable.


As shown in fig. 9 (b), let AB be the line whose length is required. From A, run a line (AB1),
called a random line in any convenient direction, but as nearly towards B as can be judged and
continue until the point B is visible from B1. Chain the line to B1, where BB1is perpendicular to
AB1 and measure BB1 ,Then

Chaining obstructed, but vision free: This problem is to find out the distance between two
convenient points on the chain line on either side of the obstruction.

There are two cases:

Case-1: In which, it is possible to chain round the obstruction.

Ex: A thorny hedge, a pond, a bend in the river.

Case-2: In which, it is not possible to chain round the obstruction.

Ex: River

Procedure for Case-1: Select two convenient points A and B on the chain line PR and on either
side of the obstruction (Fig.10). Then, erect equal perpendiculars AC and BD and measure the
length CD. Then AB=CD.

Procedure for Case-2: Select two points A and B on the chain line PR on opposite banks of
river (Fig.11). Set out a perpendicular AD and bisect it at C. At D, erect a perpendicular DE and
mark the point E in line with C and B. Measure DE, since the triangles ABC and CED are
similar, then AB=DE.


iii) Both chaining and vision both obstructed: In this case the problem consists in prolonging the
line beyond the obstruction and determining the distance across it. A building is a typical
example of this class of obstruction.
Procedure: Choose two points A and B on the chain line PR (Fig.12). At A and B, erect
perpendiculars AE and BF of equal lengths. Check the diagonals BE and AF, which should be
equal and also EF, should be equal to AB. Prolong the line EF past the obstruction and select two
points G and H on it. At G and H, set out perpendiculars GC and HD are equal in length to AE.
The points C and D are obviously on the chain line PR and BC=FG. Great care must be taken in
setting out perpendiculars and to see that their lengths are exactly equal

Chaining a line
In all chaining operations two men, called chainmen, are required. The chainman at the forward
end of the chain is called the leader or head chainman, while the chainman at the rear end of the
chain is known as the follower or rear chainman. The duties of the leader are ;
(1) To drag the chain forward,
(2) To insert arrows at the end of every chain, and
(3) To obey instructions of the follower, while the duties of the follower are;

1. To place the leader in line with the ranging rod or pole at the forward

2. To call out instructions to the leader,
3. Always to carry the rear handle in his hand and not to allow it to drag on

the ground, and

4. To pick up the arrows inserted by the leader. The chainman who is more intelligent and
experienced be selected as the follower, as upon his care and judgment depends the accuracy of

Unfolding the Chain

To lay out the chain on the ground, remove the leather strap, take both the handles in the left
hand and throw the chain well forward with the right hand. The leader, taking one handle of the
chain may then be examined to see if there are any kinks or bent links. This operation is also
called unfolding he chain.
Testing of a chain It is always necessary to check the length of chain before commencing each
day’s work and at frequent intervals, otherwise the measurement will become unreliable. Before


testing the chain, the surveyor should see that the links and rings are free from mud that there are
no links or bent links. The chain is tested by comparing it with
1. The chain standard (standard chain length)
2. With the steel tape which should be kept in the surveyor’s office for this sole purpose. If these
are not available at hand, a test gauge may be established by driving two stout pegs in the
required distance apart (20 m or 30m) and inserting nails into their tops to mark exact distance. It
is advisable to have a permanent test gauge established in close proximity to the surveyor‟s
office. During the first use, the links become bent and, consequently the chain is shortened. It is
also shortened by mud clogging the links when working over muddy ground. On the other hand,
it gets elongated due to wear of many wearing surfaces, stretching of the links and joints, and
opening out of the small rings and rough handling in pulling it through hedges and fences.
Adjusting the chain
If the chain is found to be too long, it may be adjusted by
(1) Closing up the joints of the connecting rings (that may be opened out)
(2) Hammering back to the shape of the elongated rings
(3) Replacing some of the worn out rings with new ones
(4) Removing one or more of the small rings.

If the chain is found to be too short, it may be adjusted by

1) Straightening any bent links
2) Flattening some of the small connecting rings
3) Replacing some of the worn out rings with new ones
4) Replacing a few of the rings by those of the larger size
5) Inserting new rings as required

Errors in chaining
The errors that occur in chaining are classified as
i. Compensating and
ii. Cumulative.

These errors may be due to variation in temperature, defects in construction and personal defects
in vision.
Compensating errors:
Are those which are liable to occur in either direction and hence tend to compensate i.e. they are
not likely to make the apparent result too large or too small. Compensating errors are caused due
to incorrect holding of the chain, fractional part of the chain may not be correct and during
stepping operation, crude method of plumbing is adopted
Cumulative errors:
Are those which occur in the same direction and tend to add up or accumulate i. e., either to
make the apparent measurement always too long or too short
(i) Positive errors - These errors makes the measured length more than actual

(ii) Negative errors - Making the measured length less than the actual.


Errors in measurement due to incorrect length of chain
The length of a chain may be correct at the beginning, but it may change with time as more and
more used. Due to continuous use of the chain over rough ground, the oval shaped rings get
elongated and thus the length of the chain increases. On the other hand some of the links may get
bent for there may be kinks. As a result the chain length reduces. In a very old chain, some ring
or links may be missing. Therefore, before the start of the work the correctness of the chain
length should be tested with a steel or invar tape. If the chain is too long, me assured distance
will be less and if the chain is short, the measured distance will be more than the actual distance.
However, the measured distance can be corrected by using the formula:
Correct distance = x Measured Distance
Where L’= incorrect length of a chain,
L= normal correct length of a chain which may be 20m, 30m,etc.Therefore, correct distance
×correct length of chain= Incorrect distance ×incorrect length of chain. If e‟ is elongation or
shortening of chain length, plus sign is used when the chain is too long and minus
sign is used when the chain is too short.


Construction of surveying
Chapter # 3
A traverse consists of a series of straight lines of known length related to one another by
known angles between the lines. The points defining the ends of the traverse lines are called the
traverse stations.
Traverse survey is a method of establishing control points, their positions being determined by
measuring the distances between the traverse stations which serve as control points and the
angles subtended at the various stations by their adjacent stations. The anglers are measured with
a theodolite and the distances are measured by the methods of chain/ tape or by total station or
theodolite. Chain and compass traverse may be run for ordinary surveys.

Types of Traverse
There are two types of traverse
1. Open traverse
An open traverse originates at a point of known position and terminates at a point
of unknown position.


2. Closed traverse
A closed traverse originates and terminates at points of known positions. When
closed traverse originates and terminates at the same point, it is called the closed-loop
traverse. For establishing control points, a closed traverse is preferred since it provides
different checks for included angles, deflection angles and bearings for adjusting the traverse.
When an open traverse is used the work should be checked by providing cut off lines and by
making observations on some prominent points visible form as many stations as possible.

Method of traversing
There are four methods by which the direction of the survey lines are determined are as follow.
1. By the chain angle
2. By the free or loose needle method
3. By the fast needle method
4. By the measurement of angles between the successive lines.


1. By the chain angle method/ chain traversing
In this method, the entire work is done with a chain/tape only and the angle between the
successive lines is measured with the chain. Angles fixed by the measurements are known as
chain angle.
2. Free or loose needle method
In this method, an angular instrument such as compass or theodolite, is set up at each of the
successive stations and the bearing of each lines is taken with reference to the magnetic meridian
and not with reference to the adjacent lines.
3. Fast needle method:
In this method, a theodolite is used to determine the bearing of each line. The bearing of first line
is measured with the magnetic meridians and the bearing of the successive lines are found from
the deflection angle or from the included angle.
4. Method of measurement of angles.
In this method, a theodolite is used for measurement of angles. The horizontal angles measured
in a traverse may be
a) Included angles or
b) Deflection angles (between the successive lines)

This is the most accurate method and is generally used for large surveys and accurate work.
Instruments for measurement of angles:
The instruments commonly used are:
a) Compass
b) Theodolite
c) Total station
d) Box sextant.

The compass is an instrument used for measuring the bearing i.e. the angle between the magnetic
meridian and the line.
Some special types of compass used in survey are:
 Prismatic compass
 Lensetic compass
 Trough compass
 Surveyor’s compass.

Bearing of line.
The horizontal angle between the reference meridian and the survey line is termed as bearing of
the survey line.
Magnetic Bearing
The magnetic needle of the compass always points towards the magnetic north-south (N-S)
direction indicating earth’s magnetic axis. Since this direction is same at all the places on the
earth’s surface, it is universally used as the reference direction. The angle made by survey line in
a clockwise direction with reference to magnetic N-S line is termed as magnetic bearing of the
line. The value of magnetic bearing ranges from 0o to 360o.
True Bearing


The geographical North of earth is different from the magnetic North. Hence, the angle which
the survey line makes with the true geographical North is termed as true bearing of the survey
Arbitrary Bearing
It is the horizontal angle which a survey line makes with any arbitrary meridian, which is any
convenient direction towards a permanent and prominent mark or signal, such as a Mosque.


spire or top of a chimney. Such bearings are used to determine the relative position of line in a
small area.
Whole Circle Bearing (WCB)
The complete circle of angular measurement starts with north as 0o and ends at north at 360o.
The bearing of line directly obtained by magnetic needle ranging from 0o to 360o is called whole
circle bearing as shown in Figure.

Quadrantal system:
In this system, the bearing of a line is measured clockwise or counterclockwise from the north
point or the south point whichever is nearer the line, toward the east or west. In this system, the
bearing is reckoned from 0° to 90° in each quadrant.

Reduced Bearing (RB)

The more convenient way to understand the direction of a survey line is to represent the bearing
on a quadrantal system. The angle is measured with respect to N–S line towards east or west as
shown in Figure.


Fore Bearing (FB)
The angle measured in the direction of survey line from starting survey station to the next station
is called forbearing. In Figure, if the bearing of line AB is measured from A towards B, it is
known as forward bearing or fore bearing.

Back Bearing (BB)

It is the bearing of the survey line taken from the forward survey station to the preceding station
from which the fore bearing was taken earlier. In Figure (d), if the bearing of same line AB is
measured from B towards A, it is known as backward bearing or back bearing.


Local attraction:
The magnetic needle does not point to the magnetic north when under the influence of the
external attractive forces. The local presence of magnetic rocks, iron ore deposits, steel
structures, railway lines, iron electric poles etc. can seriously deflect the magnetic needle of
compass from its normal positions. Such disturbances in accuracy of measurements are termed
local attraction.

Examples on Whole Circle Bearings:

Convert the following whole circle bearings to reduced bearings
(a) 42°58′

WCB= 42°58′
The survey line lies in 1st quadrant
Hence RB= WCB, i.e. RB= N 42°58′E


(b) 156°12′

WCB= 156°12′
In second quadrant RB= 180°– WCB
= 180°– 156°12′= S 33°48′E
(c) WCB= 219°47′


WCB= 219°47′
In third quadrant RB= WCB– 180°
= 219°47′– 180°= S 39°47′W
(d) 327°34′

WCB= 327°34′
In fourth quadrant RB= 360°– WCB
= 360°– 327°34′= N 32°26′W

Examples on Reduced Bearing

Convert the following reduced bearings to whole circle bearings
(a) N 68°32′E

RB= N 68°32′E
First Quadrant WCB= RB
= 68°32′

(b) S 37°16′E

RB= S 37°16′E
Second Quadrant WCB= 180°– RB
= 180°– 37°16′= 142°44′
(c) S 54°32′W



RB= S 54°32′W
Third Quadrant WCB= 180°+ RB
= 180°+ 54°32′
= 234°32′
(d) N 39°52′W.

RB= N 39°52′W
Fourth Quadrant WCB= 360°– 39°52′= 320°08′

Examples on Fore Bearings

Following are the observed fore bearings of the lines. Find their back bearings:
a) AB 42°34′


FB of AB= 42°34′
Back bearing of line AB= Fore bearing of AB+ 180°
= 42°34′+ 180°= 222°34′
b) BC 163°46′

FB of BC= 163°46′
Back bearing of line BC= Fore bearing of BC+ 180°
= 163°46′+ 180°= 343°46′

c) CD 204°29′
FB of CD= 204°29′
Back bearing of line CD= Fore bearing of BC– 180°
= 204°29′– 180°= 24°29′

d) DE 337°52′
FB of DE= 337°52′
Back bearing of line DE= Fore bearing of DE– 180°
= 337°52′– 180°= 157°52′




The plane table is an instrument used for surveying by a graphical method in which the
field work and plotting is done simultaneously. In plane table surveying, an unknown point of
interest is established by measuring its directions from known points. The main advantage of
plane tabling is that the topographic features to be mapped are in full view. Plane table surveying
is most suitable for small and medium scale mapping.

Basic Principle
For quick and approximate surveying, when great precision and accuracy is not needed, plane
table surveying techniques is very suitable. It is particularly convenient for filling the details
between the stations already fixed and surveyed by more precise method of triangulation or
theodolite traversing. For small area surveys, plane table is recommended. The great advantage
of this technique is that field work and map plotting is achieved simultaneously by use of
graphical surveying. The principle used in plane table surveying is that an unknown point of
interest can be established by measuring its directions from known points.

The plane table essentially consists of a simple drawing board mounted on a tripod similar to a
compass or a level. The drawing board usually made from well seasoned teak or pine wood. The
size can vary from 400 × 300 mm to 750 × 600 mm. Sometimes square boards of 500 × 500 mm
or 600 × 600 mm are also used but size of square boards is rather uncommon.
Another important constituent of plane table is a straight edge called Alidade. It is made of a
metal (brass or gunmetal) or seasoned wood about 500 mm long with a straight ruled edge which
is bevelled. This edge is termed “fiducial” edge. It may be provided with sight vanes, at both
ends in a plain alidade or (Figure a) with a telescope for better accuracy as shown in Figure (b).
In plain alidade one of the sight vanes is provided with a narrow slit and the other is provided
with cross and stadia wires. Like a level, two bubble tubes placed orthogonally are provided for
keeping the plane table horizontal. The bevelled edge is graduated so that it can be used as a
scale for plotting distances directly on the map.


The additional equipment to be used for surveying with plane table could be as given below :
Trough Compass
It is usually 15 cm long, shown in Figure (a), and is provided to plot the magnetic meridian (N-S
direction) to facilitate orientation of the plane table in the magnetic meridian.
Spirit Level
Circular spirit level is used to check the level of the board and make it horizontal by placing it on
the board in two positions mutually at right angles and centering the bubble in each position.
Plumbing Fork
It is also known as U frame. It is a hairpin shaped brass frame having two arms of equal length as
depicted in Figure (b). One end of the frame is pointed and is kept over the drawing sheet
touching the plotted position of the instrument station. The other end of the frame carries a
plumb bob. The position of the plane table is adjusted until the plumb bob hangs over the station
occupied by the instrument.


Drawing Sheet
Drawing paper should be of best quality and well seasoned to minimize the effect of climatic
variations. The paper should be tinted green or grey for reducing glaring in sun and eye strains.
Drawing paper is fixed on board with drawing pins, clamps etc. For drawing rays and other detail
quality pencils, dustless rubber and precision scales are used. A water-proof cover is also an
essential accessories to protect drawing paper from dampness and rain.

Advantages and Disadvantages

(a) Plane table survey is most suitable for preparing small-scale maps. It is most rapid.
(b) The field book is not necessary as plotting is done in field concurrently with the field work,
and hence the mistakes in booking the field notes are avoided.
(c) The surveyor can compare the plotted work with the actual features of the area surveyed and,
thus, cannot overlook any essential features.
(d) There is no possibility of omitting the necessary measurements as the map is plotted in the
(e) Errors of measurements and plotting may be readily detected by check lines.
(f) Contours and irregular objects may be represented accurately, since the tract is in view.
(g) It is particularly advantageous in magnetic area where compass survey is not reliable.
(h) It is less costly than a theodolite survey.
(i) No great skill is required to prepare a satisfactory map.

(a) The plane table is essentially a tropical instrument. It is not suitable for work in a wet climate.
(b) It is heavy, cumbersome, and awkward to carry.
(c) There are several accessories to be carried and, therefore, they are likely to be lost.
(d) It is not intended for accurate work.
(e) If the survey is to be re-plotted to a different scale or quantities are to be computed, it is of
great inconvenience in absence of the field notes.


The survey details of ground features are normally obtained by sighting the object
through sight vane or telescope of the alidade and drawing a radial line. On this line the object
station‟s distance is marked to scale. The object‟s position on map can also be plotted by
sighting the object from two different plane table stations and locating the object by intersection
of radial lines.
Since survey is carried out by sighting, the table should be set up to provide drawing board at
convenient height about 1m above ground. The table shall also be stable and levelled. The legs of
the table are spread well apart to provide stability and adjusted to provide the table in horizontal
plane by means of the levelling screws with reference to a level tube. The table is centered over
the station accurately with the help of a plumbing fork or U frame. The upper leg of the fork
coinciding with the point on paper while a plumb bob is hung from the other leg directly over the
peg. The other essential step in setting up the table is its orientation. It ensures that the table is
kept parallel to its original direction as it is moved from station to station. This step is necessary
to make the lines on the map parallel to the lines on the ground represented by them. This is


achieved either by the use of a compass or by the process of back sighting. Using the compass, a
line is drawn on map at first station in the direction of magnetic meridian. Whenever the table is
required to be set up at a new station, the compass is placed in the direction of already drawn
magnetic meridian and table rotated to bring the needle ends on zero reading of scale. The table
clamped in this position ensures accurate table orientation if no local attraction is present at
station. A more reliable and preferred method of orientation is by back sighting. Whenever the
table is
required to be shifted from instrument station O1to O2, the O2is sighted by placing a ranging rod
at O2and line of sight along O1 O2. A line O1 O2is then drawn on map. When the instrument is
shifted to O2, the alidade is kept along O1 O2and ranging rod placed at O1is sighted from O2.
The board is rotated until the line of sight bisects the ranging rod at O1.


For a plane table survey to be adequate and accurate, following precautions shall be
observed and adjustment made accordingly.
(a) The table board surface shall be as perfectly plane as possible, otherwise the rays drawn on
the drawing map will experience several obstructions and hence will not be accurate and straight.
The planeness of the board can be checked by using the straight edge in several directions and
removing ridges and higher spots by sand papering. Planning can be undertaken if roughness is
(b) In addition to being plane and smooth, the board surface should also be horizontal, i.e.
perpendicular to the vertical axis of rotation of the table. The horizontality is checked by using
the spirit level. The level is placed repeatedly in perpendicular positions and bubble checked for
center. Any deviation from horizontality is corrected using washer/packing between the board
and the supports. The bubble of the level shall remain central even when the table is slowly
revolved through 360o.
(c) In order to draw the rays in perfect straight lines, the ruling edge of the alidade shall be
maintained straight. Any deviations shall be straightened by filing accurately.
(d) The sight vanes provided on the alidade should be normal to the ruler base. This will ensure
that the line of sight of the instrument is parallel to the ruling edge so that the rays drawn
represent the direction of the line of sight. This requirement can be tested by hanging a plumb
line at a distance from the instrument and bisect it with the sight vanes of the alidade. The error
will be indicated by hair line of vane tilting with respect to the plumb line. Necessary adjustment
can be made either by filling or placing some packing under the alidade base as required.
(e) The spirit level axes shall be parallel to the alidade base axes. Similar accuracy requirements
and adjustment are necessary for telescopic alidade.

Once the table is set and oriented at any instrument station, the details of important
ground features can be observed and recorded on map. This is generally carried out by three
procedures namely radiation, intersection, and traversing.

1. Radiation
This is most direct and simple method of recording observations during plane
table surveying. The instrument station O is selected and instrument is set and oriented at this
station. The point of interest, representing important ground features, natural or created, is


located on map plan by drawing a ray from the plane table station to that point with the help of
alidade and plotting to scale the measured distance as shown in Figure.Small land areas can be
surveyed from a single instrument station on one table setting at a predetermined and located
position. The instrument station is selected such that entire area is visible and approachable from
this position for distance measuring and sighting. The instrument station designated O1is plotted
on drawing sheet exactly oriented and levelled at ground station O1with the help of U frame as
depicted in Figure (b). The various survey target points A, B, C etc. are sighted by centering the
alidade on O1and rays drawn along its edge. The distances O1A, O1 B etc. can be measured by
chain/tape and plotted as O1 a, O1 b, on the sheet. The N-line is marked at top of sheet with the
help of compass. This way the traverse abcdef can be plotted. Accuracy can be checked by
measuring ground distances AB, BC etc. and comparing with map distances ab, bc etc.

2. Intersection
In place of one ground station O1, as in radial method, two ground stations
O1and O2are selected on ground, such that all important features of area to be surveyed are sight
able from both stations. The line joining instrument station O1and O2is termed base line. It is the
only distance which is required to be measured linearly on ground. With plane table positioned at
one station (say O1) the point is transferred on sheet as O1as in last method. With alidade
pivoted at O1different survey points A, B, C… are sighted and radial lines O1a, O1b, O1care


Next the plane table is shifted and positioned at O2. With alidade pivoted at O2, survey points A,
B, C… are sighted again and radial line O2A, O2B, O2C… are drawn on sheet. The intersection
of radial lines, e.g. (O1aand O2a) will give the location of Aon sheet as „a‟ and so on, without
making any linear measurement as shown in Figure. This method is generally preferred for
plotting the details of ground, objects, which are far away or difficult to access, rivers etc., and
the survey stations which can be subsequently used as instrument stations. It is particularly
useful in rough and uneven regions where accurate linear measurements are tedious, or difficult
or even impossible in some cases.

3. Traversing
The method of radials or intersection (from a base line O1O2) can be used
preferably for small level surveys. However, plane table can also be used for traversing surveys
of wide and large areas similar to chain and compass surveys, for both closed and open
traversing. Survey lines O1– O2 – O3can be run between stations which are already predecided
by other methods. The topographical details are fixed by plane table traversing. The step-by-step
procedure can be described as follows :
(a) Traverse stations O1, O2. . . , O3are predecided on ground.
(b) Set and level the table at O1and mark o1on sheet exactly above O1using U frame. Centering
the alidade at O1, other traverse stations O2, O3. . . etc. which can be sighted from O1, are


observed and rays O1 O2, O1 O3, O1 O4, . . . , etc. are drawn. For topographical details stations
A, B, C, . . . , etc. are sighted and rays drawn (Figure).
(c) The table is then shifted to next station O2, fixed levelled and oriented. Position of station
O2is marked on sheet. Radial rays O2 O1, O2 O3, O2 O4are then drawn with alidade centered
on O2. The intersection of rays O1 O3and O2 O3will give the location of station O3on sheet and
so on. The ground features A, B, C, . . . etc. can be similarly
located on map by drawing rays from station O2. Details can also be located by method of
(d) The process is continued till completion of survey.
(e) Accuracy is checked by sighting station O1, O2. . . etc. from more than two stations so that
three radial lines merge at referred station. However, if a particular traverse point is not
observable from more than two traverse stations, some well-defined object on area can be
temporarily chosen as instrument station for checking.

It is a method of orientation employed when the table occupies a position
which is not yet located on the drawing sheet. Position of instrument station occupied by the
plane table can be drawn on sheet (or map) with the help of two or more well defined points
which are visible from instrument station and whose positions have already been drawn on plan

Simple Problem (Back Ray Method)

This method is very useful when one of the plotted stations in accessible from the station to be
plotted. The procedure of resection after orientation by back ray is given below :
(a) Base line O1 O2is selected on ground as distance between two well defined points O1and
O2on ground whose positions are measured and plotted accurately on the plan map.
(b) Set, level and orient table at O1. Alidade is placed along O1 O2such that signal

at O2is bisected. With alidade at O1another station O3is sighted, which is required


to be located, draw a line O1 O3, station O3 is marked on map along this ray approximately.
(c) Shift the table and set it afresh at O3and orient it by back sight on O1.
(d) Place alidade at O2on map, sight O2on ground and draw the ray O2 O3. The point of
intersection of rays O1 O3and O2 O3 will give or locate the position of O3on map. This process
is repeated to obtain positions of all instrument stations O4, O5. . . etc. on map.

Two-point Problem
The back ray method requires drawing the ray from preceding stations (O1and O2) to the station
to be occupied by plane table (say O3). Errors of centering thus are inevitable.
The two-point problem consists of locating the position of a plane table station on the drawing
sheet by observation of two well defined points, whose positions have already been plotted on
plan. The procedure of resection after orientation by two points is given below.
(a) Let O1 O2 be the two stations plotted as o1and o2on the drawing sheet. It is required to plot
station O3 for plane tabling work.
(b) An auxiliary point Aon ground is selected such that AO3is approximately parallel to O1
O2and the angle O3 O1A and O3 O2 Aare balanced angles, i.e. these are neither too acute or too
obtuse. The table is set and levelled at A, and so oriented that line O1 O2 on ground is nearly
parallel to line o1 o2plotted on table map.
(c) Alidade, touching o2and sighting O2on ground, a ray is drawn through o2. In the same way,
draw a ray by touching alidade to o1and sighting O1on ground. This ray will intersect the first
ray at a1on the map.
(d) With alidade touching a1, sight O3and draw the ray a1 o3. Mark the estimated position of
O3on the map as o′3.
(e) The table is removed from A and set at O3with marked position of o3 over O3, properly
levelled and similarly oriented. This is achieved by back sighting A from O3.
(f) Now with table at O3, keep alidade touching o1and sight O1and draw a back ray resecting the
line a1 o′3 in o3. Here o3is the point representing the station O3with reference to the
approximate orientation made at A.
(g) With alidade touching o3, sight O2and draw a ray to O2. If the ray passes through the plotted
point o2, the orientation of the table is correct and o3is the correct position
of O3. Whereas, if this ray cuts the previously plotted line a1 o2at some other point, say o′2, then
the position o3is not the correct position of O3.


(h) The orientation error will be equal to ∠o2 ′o1o2 between the lines o1 o2and o1 o2΄. This
error can be eliminated by rotating the table through the angle o2΄ o1 o2. This table rotation can
be achieved by taking the following steps.
(i) The alidade is placed along line o1 o2΄and a ranging rod B is fixed in line with o1 o2΄, far
away from the plane table.
(ii) Alidade is now kept along true line o1 o2and table is rotated so that ranging rod B is bisected.
The table is clamped in new position.
(iii) The true location of O3 on map is now marked by :
(a) Orienting alidade along o1 O1and drawing the ray o1 O1, and
(b) Orienting alidade along o2 O2and drawing the ray o2 O2.
The point of intersection of the two rays will give the correct position of O3 (the new table
position) on map. The new position of table station O3is, thus, correctly marked on map with the
help of two previous table stations O1and O2already marked on map. The procedure followed is
termed two-point problem in plane table survey.

Three-point Problem
The position of new plane table station on the map can be correctly located with the help of three
well defined points on ground whose positions are already plotted on map. Such a procedure is
called three-point problem. It is obvious that locating the position of table by this process is more
accurate. However, it is more involved and complex. Let there are three ground stations A, Band
C whose positions are marked as a, band con the plan map and let these stations are visible from
new table station O. It is required to plot the position of O on map as o. This can be achieved by
any of the following methods :
(a) Mechanical
(b) Graphical
(c) Trial and Error
Mechanical or Tracing Paper Method
The process of mechanical method is applied using a tracing paper or cloth. The table is
stationed, set and levelled at station O and is oriented as nearly as possible in its correct position
either by visual judgment or by use of compass. A tracing cloth/paper is spread and stretched


over the table. The position of O is guesstimated and fixed on the tracing to approximately locate
the table station O on the map as o. With alidade centered at o, stations A, Band Care bisected
and rays oa, ob and oc are drawn on the tracing. The tracing is then un-stretched and rotated until
the three new drawn rays pass through plotted positions of a, band con the map. This will
provide a new position of station O on map as o΄. This is transferred to map by a pin of a fine
needle point. The alidade is then placed along o΄a and station A is bisected by rotating the table
and then clamping it in new position. Stations B and Care then sighted and rays drawn as check.
The new rays shall pass through o′ if new table orientation is correct. However, a small triangle
of error may be formed as table orientation was only approximate.
The above process is then repeated by trial and error till the triangle of error vanishes.

5. Graphical Method
Several graphical methods are suggested to solve the three-point
problem. However, the Bessel‟s solution is the most commonly used method in practice being
the simplest. The Bessel‟s solution can be described in the following steps :
(a) The plane table is set up and levelled at new station O. The alidade is placed along known
line (say ba on the map) and table is rotated until A is sighted with „a‟ pointing
towards A as shown in Figure 5.8(a), clamp the table and sight C with alidade centered on b,
draw a line x-x along alidade edge.
(b) The alidade is now placed along ab and table turned to bisect B with b towards Bas in Figure
(b). Clamp the table and centre the alidade at a, bisect C by drawing the ray aC intersecting the
previously drawn ray x-x at point c′(say). Join cc′.
(c) Alidade is now placed along c′c as in Figure (c) and table turned till C is bisected and
clamped in new position. The table is correctly oriented.
(d) The alidade is centered at band B is bisected. Draw the ray to intersect cc′ in o. Similarly, if
alidade is pivoted about a and A is sighted, the ray will pass through oif the process is accurate.
Any minor error is corrected accordingly.


Levelling may be defined as the art of determining the relative heights or elevations of points or
objects on the surface of the earth. Therefore, it deals with measurements in vertical plane.
Levelling has wide applications in the field of agriculture, Construction of irrigation and
drainage channels, bunds, reservoirs, outlet structures, etc. require the knowledge of surveying.
For any soil conservation and land levelling work, levelling is the first job to be taken up.

Terminology related to leveling

Level surface: A level surface is any surface parallel to the mean spheroidal surface of the earth.

Level line: A level line is a line lying in a level surface.

Horizontal plane: A horizontal plane through a point is a plane tangential to the level surface of
the at that point.

Horizontal line: A horizontal line is a line lying in the horizontal plane;

Vertical line: A vertical line at any point is a line normal to the level surface through that point.

Vertical plane: A vertical plane is a plane containing vertical line.

Datum: It is also called datum plane or only datum. A datum surface is usually an imaginary
level surface or arbitrarily assumed level surface, from which vertical distances are measured. Its
elevation is zero. In India, the datum adopted for the Great Trigonometrical survey (GTS) bench
mark is the mean sea level at Karachi, now in Pakistan. At present, the mean sea level at Madras
is used.

Elevation: It is the vertical distance above or below the datum. It is also known as reduced level
(R.L). The elevation of a point is plus or minus according as the point is above or below the

Bench Mark (B.M.): It is a fixed point of reference of known or assumed elevation with respect
to which other elevations are calculated. It is a starting point for leveling. Temporary bench
marks are selected at the end of a day’s work. There are four kinds of Bench marks.

Line of collimation: It is the line joining the intersection of the cross hairs to the optical centre
of the object glass and its continuation. It is called the line of sight.

Axis of telescope: It is a line joining the optical centre of the object glass to the center of the eye


Axis of the level tube or bubble tube: It is an imaginary line tangential to the longitudinal
curve of the tube at its middle point. It is also known as bubble line. It is horizontal, when the
bubble is centered.

Height of the instrument: It is the reduced level (R.L) of the plane of sight when the leveling
instrument is correctly leveled. It is also called the "height of the plane of the collimation" or the
collimation. The line of collimation will revolve in a horizontal plane known as plane of
collimation or the plane of sight.

Back sight: It is a staff reading taken on a point of known elevation, as on a bench mark or a
change point. It is also called a plus sight. It is the first staff reading taken after the level is set up
and levelled.

Foresight: It is the last staff reading denoting the shifting of the level. It is the staff reading
taken on a point whose elevation is to be determined. It is also termed as a minus sight. It is the
last staff reading, denoting the shifting of the instrument.

Change point: It is the point on which reading is taken just before and after shifting the
instrument. That means both back sight and fore sight readings are taken on this point. It is also
called a turning point. It should be taken on a firm, well-defined object.

Station: A station is a point whose elevation is to be determined or a point which is to be

established at a given elevation.

Levelling instruments
Two instruments are required to determine the reduced levels of points. They are:
1. A level and
2. A levelling staff.

The level is used to provide a horizontal line of sight and the levelling staff which is a graduated
rod is used to read the vertical height of the line of sight above the selected station.

1. The level
Various types of levels are used for surveying viz.(i) Auto level (ii)Hand level, (iii)
Farm level, (iv) Wey level, (v) Tilting level and (vi) Dumpy level etc. The Auto level is widely
used now a day for Levelling works. For small and rough levelling works, the hand levels and
farm levels are used.

Dumpy level
The dumpy level is simple, compact and stable. Main parts of a dumpy level are shown in
fig.20. A levelling instrument essentially consists of tripod or three legged stand, levelling head
mounted on the tripod, the limb, telescope and the bubble tube. The most important part is the
telescope which may be either internal focusing or external focusing type. A levelling head is
mounted on the tripod stand having two parallel plates and three or four foot screws. The limb,


consists of the vertical axis and a horizontal plate, connects the levelling head with the above

The telescope has an object glass at the forward end and eye piece at the rear end. The eye piece
magnifies the image of the object formed by the object glass. All the parts above the levelling
head are capable of rotating round the vertical axis. One or two bubble tubes are provided for
leveling the instrument. The bubbles can be brought to the centre of the bubble tubes by
adjusting the foot screws, which support the upper parallel plate. The diaphragm is fixed a little
beyond the eye-piece inside the main tube. The diaphragm houses a brass ring which is fitted
with cross hairs. There are three sets of horizontal hairs. The central cross hair gives the line of
sight. The line joining the intersection of the central cross hair to the optical centre of the object
glass and its continuation is the line of sight. When sighted through the eye piece, continuation of
the above line meets the leveling staff at a point denotes the staff reading.

2. The levelling staff

There are various types of graduated staffs. The purpose of a levelling staff is to determine the
amount by which the station (foot of the staff) is above or below the line of sight.


Taking out the instrument from the box
Before taking out the instrument from the box, mark the positions of
 The object glass,
 Eye-piece
 Clamp and tangent screws so that while keeping back it can be placed in the box in
proper position without any difficulty.

Adjustment of the level

The adjustments of a level are of two kinds:
(a) Temporary adjustments and
(b) Permanent adjustments
(a) Temporary Adjustments:
The temporary adjustments are those, which have to be done at each set-up of the
level. They are necessary adjustments to take readings. They are:

Setting up the level

Fixing the instrument on the tripod:

Release the clamp screw of the instrument, hold the instrument in the right hand and fix it on the
tripod by turning round only the lower part with the left hand. Screw the instrument firmly.


Leg adjustment:
Plant the instrument at the desired point at a convenient height for sighting. Spread the
tripod legs well apart and tribrach sprang as nearly level as can be judged by the eye. Bring all
foot screws in the center of their run. Fix any two legs firmly into the ground by pressing them
with the hand and move the third leg to the right or left until the main bubble is approximately in
the center. Then move it in or out until the bubble of the cross level is approximately in the
center. It is only approximate levelling.

Levelling up
Place the telescope parallel to a pair of foot screws and bring the bubble to the center of
its run by turning these screws equally either both in wards or both outwards. Turn the telescope
to 900 so that it lies over the third foot screw and center the bubble by turning this screw. Repeat
the operations until the bubble remains in the center of its run in both positions. Once this
operation is complete, the bubble should remain in the center for all directions of the telescope,
provided the instrument be in correct permanent adjustment.

Focusing the eye piece

Remove the lid from the object glass and hold a white paper in front of it. Move the eye
piece in and out until the cross hairs on the diaphragm are seen distinctly.

Focusing the object glass

Direct the telescope towards the staff and on looking through the eye-piece, bring the
image of the staff between two vertical hairs of the diaphragm by lightly tapping the telescope.
Adjust the objective by turning the focusing screw until the parallax error is eliminated.

Adjusting of the eye-piece and the objective at the proper distance apart for the clear
vision of the object sighted is known as focusing. First, focus the eye-piece by holding a white
paper in front of the telescope and move the eye- piece in and out until the cross hairs appear
distinct and clear. Then focus the object glass by directing the telescope towards the object and
turn the focusing screw until the image appears clear and sharp. By focusing, the focus of the
objective and that of the eye-piece coincide with cross hair of the diaphragm as the diaphragm is
placed at the common focus.

The apparent movement of the image relatively to the crosshairs when the image formed
by the objective does not fall in the plane of the diaphragm is called "parallax" and the process of
precise focusing on the staff is often called "adjusting for parallax". If the image appears to move
in the same direction as that of eye, it is in front of the diaphragm and the focusing screw must
therefore move the objective inwards. If however, the image appears to move in the direction
opposite to that of the eye, it is beyond the diaphragm towards the eye piece and the objective
therefore to be moved outwards by the focusing screw. It may be noted that parallax error can be
eliminated wholly by slightly turning the focusing screw backwards or forwards until such
motion no longer exists.


Holding the staff
While reading the staff, care should be taken in holding the staff in vertical. The staff
man stands behind the staff, heels together, with the heel of the staff between his toes and holds
it between the palms of his hands at the height of his face in a vertical position. The readings will
be too high, if the staff is not vertical. Special care must be taken with the larger readings, since
the errors due to a given deviation from the vertical vary with the readings. The staff should be
very slowly waved forward towards the level and backwards away from it. The person reading
the staff should record the lowest reading which will be the correct reading.

Reading the staff

Direct the telescope towards the staff held vertically on the station after the instrument is
leveled. Bring the staff between the two vertical hairs and use the portion of the horizontal cross
hair between them in reading the staff. Bubble should be in the center of its run while reading the

Booking staff readings in field book

The readings should be entered in the respective columns and in the order of their
observation. The first reading is obviously a back sight and should be entered in that column. A
remark should be made in the remarks column describing weather back sight (B.S.) is taken on a
permanent or temporary or arbitrary bench mark (B.M.) and its value should be noted. If more
than one reading is taken from the same position of the instrument, all the subsequent readings
should be recorded in the intermediate sight column. The last reading is a change point (C.P.)
and recorded in foresight column (F.S.). The foresight and back sight of the change point should
be written in the same horizontal line. The R.L of the plane of collimation should be written in
the same horizontal line opposite to B.S. If the last entry at the bottom of the page happens to be
an intermediate sight (I.S.), it should be repeated as the first entry on the next page and should be
recorded both in I.S and F.S columns. The arithmetic checks should be made and written at the
bottom of every page at home, the same day the levelling is done, so that if any discrepancy is
found, it can be checked the next morning in the field.

Determination of reduced level

Whenever any leveling is to be carried out, the first reading is taken on a point of known
elevation. This is called back sight (B.S.) reading. Before shifting the instrument one reading is
taken on a firm object whose elevation is to be determined. This is known as fore sight (F.S.)
reading. Between the B.S and F.S numbers of readings known as intermediate sights (I.S) are
taken. All these readings are required to be tabulated and converted to reduced levels (R.L) for
practical use. There are two systems of working out the reduced levels of points from the staff
readings in the field:
(i) The collimation or the height of instrument (H.I.) and
(2) The rise and fall system.

1. The collimation system

At first, the R.L. of the plane of collimation i.e., height of instrument (H.I) is calculated
for every setting of the instrument and then R.L. of different stations re calculated with reference
to the height of the instrument. In the first setting, the H.I. is calculated by adding the B.S.
reading with the R.L. of the bench mark. By subtracting all the readings of all the intermediate
sights and that of the first change point from the H.I. , then their reduced levels are calculated.
The new H.I is calculated by adding the B.S. reading with the R.L. of the first change point. The
process is repeated till the entire area is covered.

Arithmetical check:
The difference between the sum of back sights and the sum of fore sights should be equal
to the difference of first and last R.L.

2. Rise and fall system

The level readings taken on different stations are compared with the readings taken
from the intermediate proceeding stations. The difference in the readings indicates rise or fall
depending upon whether the staff reading is smaller or greater than that of the preceding reading.
The rise is added and fall is subtracted from the R.L. of a station to obtain the R.L. of the next

Arithmetical check
The difference between the sum of back sights and the sum of fore sights is equal to the
difference between the sum of the rise and fall and should be equal to the difference of first and
last R.L. If the R.L. of A is known, the R.L. of B may be found by the following relation
R.L of B = R.L. of A + B.S. - F.S.
The R.Ls of the intermediate points may be found by the following relation:
R.L. of a point = R.L of B.M + B.S. - I.S
The difference of level between A and B is equal to the algebraic sum of these differences or
equals the difference between the sum of back sights and the sum of the foresights (B.S - F.S.). If
the difference is positive, it indicates that the point B is higher than the point A, while if the
negative, the point B is lower than the point A.

Bench Mark (B.M.)

It is a fixed point of reference of known or assumed elevation with respect to which other
elevations are calculated. It is a starting point for leveling. Temporary bench marks are selected
at the end of a day’s work. There are four kinds of Bench marks.
1) G.T.S (Great Trigonometrical Survey) Bench Mark
These bench marks are established with very high precision at intervals all over the
country by Survey of India department. Their position and elevation above the standard
datum are given in the catalogue published by the department.
2) Permanent Bench Mark
These are the fixed points of reference established between the GTS bench marks by
Government agencies such as PWD, or development authorities. On clearly defined and
permanent points such as top of the parapet wall of a bridge or culvert, corner of a plinth of a
building, gate pillars etc.

3) Arbitrary bench Marks

These are the reference points whose elevations are arbitrarily assumed. They are used
in small levelling operations.


4) Temporary Bench Marks
These are the reference points established at the end of day’s work or when there is a break in the
work. The work, when resumed, is continued with reference to these bench marks.

Types of Levelling
Different types of levelling are:
1. Simple levelling
It is the simplest operation in leveling when it is required to find the difference in
elevation between two points, both of which are visible from a single position of the level. If
the two points are so close that they can be seen from a single set up, their level difference
can be determined easily.

Procedure: If the two points are so close that they can be seen from a single set up, their level
difference can be determined easily. Let A and B be two points (Fig.22) located closely and it is
desired to know their elevation difference. The level can be set up anywhere from where both the
stations are visible i.e., at “O”. But to eliminate the effect of any instrumental error, it is
advisable to place the instrument at equal distance from both the stations, but not necessarily in
the same line. Staff readings are taken on both the stations. The difference in reading gives the
elevation difference between the points.

2. Differential levelling
It is the method of levelling to determine the elevation of points located at some
distance apart or to determine the elevation difference between two points or to establish
bench marks. The method is used in order to find the difference in elevations between two
 If they are far apart.
 The difference in elevation between two points is too great and


 If there are obstacles intervening. The method of simple leveling is employed in each of
the successive stages. The process is also known as compound or continuous leveling.

When two points are located at a distance so that they cannot be viewed from a single set up of
the level, then it is required to take a number of change points. Let A and B are two such points
(Fig. 23) whose elevation is to be found out. First, the instrument is set up between A and B and
the instrument is leveled and focused. Reduced level of A is assumed and is taken as bench
mark. From the same set-up, the staff reading (B.S.) at A is taken. The instrument remains in its
position and staff is shifted towards B and fore sight (F.S.) reading is taken on this point, which
is the first change point. The distance of the change point from the level should not exceed
100m. The level is shifted towards B and set up at a convenient point to keep its distance from
the first change point approximately same as before. The process of taking B.S and F.S. reading
is repeated till the point B is reached. Enter last station reading in the fore sight. The readings are
tabulated and the reduced levels of all stations can conveniently be calculated following the
collimation or rise or fall system.

3. Profile leveling
It is the method of determining the level of ground surface along a predetermined
line which may be the center line of a road, canal, railways or pipeline. The predetermined line
may be a single straight line or a series of connected straight lines. The method is also known as
longitudinal leveling or sectioning. Sectioning is useful for laying out roads, canals, terrace lines,
contour bunds etc.

Procedure for profile leveling:

The leveling operation should start from a bench mark. If no bench mark is available nearby, fly
levels may be taken to establish temporary bench marks. Depending upon the PRECISION
required, the interval at which level should be taken is decided. The fixed interval may be 10, 20,
25 m etc. But apart from this fixed interval, level readings must be taken at all points where there
is abrupt change of slopes. If these points are omitted, there will be serious misrepresentation of
the nature of slope. The line AH (Fig.24) along which profile leveling will be carried out is
located and the points are marked by pegs. Here the R.L. of the bench mark (A) is known and A
is also the first point of the line through which profile will be run. The fore bearing of the line
should be measured at A by using a prismatic compass. The magnetic compass fitted with the
dumpy level may also be used for measuring the bearing of the line. If there are number of
connected lines, then the bearings of each line should be measured as the survey progresses. For
taking levels, the instrument is set up on a firm ground at M located outside the line AH .Back
sight reading is taken on the staff held at A (bench mark). This is a plus sight as this reading
added with the R.L. of A gives the H.I. Now the staff is shifted to different points already
marked and numbers of I.S. readings are taken. The reading of the last clearly visible station
(station no.6) is the F.S. reading. This is used as the first change point. After taking the F.S.
reading on the first change point, the instrument is shifted to a new position (N) from where
maximum number of stations can be covered. The staff-man continues to hold the staff at the
same position (C.P. 1) till B.S. reading on it is taken. After this, the staff is shifted to different
stations and intermediate sights (I.S.) are taken as long as the stations are visible from this set up
of the leveling instrument. At last, a change point (C.P.2) is selected on a firm ground and the
F.S. reading is taken. The instrument is shifted and the process is continued till all the stations
are completed. Whenever there is a change in the direction of the profile line, at the point of
change, the back bearing of the preceding line and the fore bearing of the succeeding line must
be taken. The chainage of all the staff points should be taken continuously from the starting point
to the last point. As far as possible the B.S. and F.S. distances should be approximately equal. In
addition to the profile readings, staff readings should also be taken on all important features.
Also the positions of the features like road, canal, river, fences etc. may be located by taking
offsets or by some other means. The level readings should be checked by connecting it with a
nearby permanent bench mark. If, no such bench mark is available, the work can be checked by
taking fly levels to the original bench mark.


Isogonic Lines
If the points on the globe which have same magnetic declination at a point of time are
joined, the imaginary lines so obtained are called isogonic lines.

Agonic Lines
These are imaginary lines constructed by joining the points at which the magnetic
declination is zero, and hence have the same value of magnetic bearing and true bearings. For
reference to geodetic and other important surveys, isogonic charts are published by agencies like
Survey of India, on which isogonic and agonic lines are drawn on earth maps.

The compass essentially consists of a freely suspended magnetic needle mounted on a
smooth pointed pivot. The needle can freely move over a graduated scale. Two slit vanes are
provided on the frame – one as the object vane and other as eye vane – placed at 180o to provide
the line of sight. A tripod stand is provided on which the compass can be mounted and positioned
over the survey station, while taking observations.
A circular metal box, approximately 100 mm diameter, is used with a hardened steel pivot at the
centre. The magnetic needle, graduated aluminum ring and vanes etc. are other parts of the
compass. Design of these parts and their placement vary in different types of compass. The two
types of compass – prismatic compass and surveyors compass – are currently used in practice.

Prismatic Compass
It is the commonly used compass for engineering surveys and is suitable for surveys where speed
is more important than accuracy, for example, the preliminary surveys of road, railway line or
pipe line alignments and rough traversing etc. Figure 3.3 shows the different constituents of a
prismatic compass in their final assembled form.

The aluminum ring of prismatic compass has a magnetic needle marked with N-S along the
diameter of the ring. The graduations are itched from 0oto 360o in clockwise direction with zero
marked at south end of needle and 180o at the north end (Figure (a). The itching is marked in
inverted fashion so that they are read in correct way when viewed through the reflecting prism.
Each degree in graduation is divided into half to give a least count of 30'. The object vane has a
vertical hair thin wire bisecting the object under observation. The observation vane (or eye vane)
consists of a reflecting prism. Both the vanes are collapsible to be folded to lie on compass cover
when not in use. A plane mirror is hinged to object vane to sight the object which is too high or
too low to be sighted directly. The indication of mirror can be adjusted to facilitate this process.
In case of sun glare, when making the measurements become difficult, sun screen of tinted
glasses can be used by placing them in the line of sight between prism and object vane. To
dampen the oscillation of magnetic needle and providing stability to measurement process, a
brake pin is provided on the side of the compass box. A lifting pin is also provided to lift the
needle and to keep it pressed against glass cover when the object vane is folded and the compass
is not in use. This prevents the pivot from excessive wear and tear.


Procedure of Measuring Bearing with Prismatic Compass
The procedure of measuring bearing with the compass is discussed in this section along
with some related issues like compass traversing, local attraction and correction due to local

Setting the Compass at Station

The prismatic compass is required to be temporarily set over the station at which the
bearing of survey line required to be measured. It is basically a two-step procedure. This is also
called the temporary adjustments of compass.

The compass is set so that its centre lies exactly above the station under consideration.
This is achieved by suspending a plumb bob from the centre hook provided. If the conical end of
plumb bob lie exactly over the station (Xis marked over station for accuracy), the compass is
considered to be exactly centered. If not, the legs of the tripod are adjusted in position by moving
one leg first and then simultaneously moving other two legs in perpendicular direction to first
movement. Several trials can be needed for obtaining the correct centering of the compass. In
real life situations, when plumb bob is not available, a small piece of stone or pebble can be
taken, by holding this stone by fingers in line of centre of compass and allowing it to drop freely
on the station. If the stone falls on the top of peg then centering is correct, otherwise the
adjustment of tripod is done as explained earlier.

The compass is required to be levelled so that the aluminum ring is in horizontal plane
and hence free to rotate on pivot. The levelling can be checked by a spirit level or by rolling a
pin on compass box. If the round pin does not roll, the level is correct. If not levelled correctly,
the level can be adjusted by moving the legs of tripod. Some instruments are provided with a ball
and socket arrangement at box base to achieve rapid levelling till the graduated ring moves freely
inside the compass box.


Observing the Bearing
Once the compass is centered over the station and levelled, the process of bearing
measurement can start. Let AB be the survey line as shown in Figure (a), the bearing of which is
required to be measured. The instrument is set at A and a ranging rod is fixed at B. The compass
is turned so that line of sight is aligned in the direction of ABby making eye slit of observation
vane, vertical hair of object vane and ranging rod at Bin same horizontal line. Wait for oscillation
of graduation ring to dampen, with the use of brake pin if necessary. The viewing prism is
focused by moving it vertically with the help of focusing stud. The reading of the image of hair
line as observed through prism is noted indicating the whole circle bearing of survey line. The
process is repeated to check the repeatability of measurements. This bearing is called fore
bearing of line AB.

Problem No.1.
The following readings were taken with a level and 16 ft. staff rod. Draw up a level Book page
and find the Reduce level of the points by using Collimation Method.
1.99, 0.931, 1.432, 2.222, (2.321, 2.003) C.P, (1.874, 1.912) C.P, 2.313, 1.677, 1.232 and 0.199
Also given that B.M= 199 ft.


Problem No.2.
The following readings were taken with a level and 16 ft. staff rod. Draw up a level Book page
and find the Reduce level of the points by using Rise & Fall Method.
1.99, 0.931, 1.432, 2.222, (2.321, 2.003) C.P, (1.874, 1.912) C.P, 2.313, 1.677, 1.232 and 0.199
Also given that B.M= 199 ft.


Problem No.3
The following readings were taken with a 16 ft. staff rod. The readings are:
0.894, 1.643, 2.896, 3.016, 0.954, 0.962, 0.582 and 0.251.
The instrument was shifted after 3rd, 5th and 7th readings. If the value of BM =100 ft. then find
the Reduced Level of all the points.


Problem No.4
The following readings were taken with a 16 ft. staff rod. The readings are:
4.01, 4.5, 4.56, 0.567, 1.768, 7.8, 5.89, 9.34, 0.02 and 6.78.
The instrument was shifted after 3rd and 10th readings. If the value of BM =200 ft. then find the
Reduced Level of all the points.


Problem No.5
The following readings were taken with a 16 ft. staff rod. The readings are:
16, 16, 16, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12 and 12.
The instrument was shifted after 3rd and 10th readings. If the value of BM =200 ft. then find the
Reduced Level of all the points.


“Latitude of a place is the angular distance of a point on the earth’s surface north or south
of the equator from the centre of the earth.”
The value of equator is 0° and the latitude of the poles is 90°N and 90°S. Lines joining places
with the same latitudes are called parallels.
Among the latitude, Equator is the longest one and is taken is a reference line.


These are imaginary lines, which join the poles and are perpendicular to all the
parallels. All the lines of the longitude are drawn as semi circles that converge at the poles.

The sun rays have highest altitude simultaneously on all the places at a particular line of
longitude as a result of which these lines are also known as Meridians. (Meridian is a Latin word
which mean mid-day.)

All the lines of longitude are of the same length and selecting a longitude, as a line of reference
was a serious problem. In order to find a solution to this problem, an International conference
was held in 1884 at London and it was decided that the longitude passing through Greenwich
(Near London) should be taken as the reference line. This was termed as Prime meridian or 0°
longitude. The line exactly opposite to this line is the longitude of 180°. Other longitudes are
drawn between these two important lines of longitude.

Local Time
The earth rotates around its axis from west to east. Due to this rotation of the earth,
different longitude come before the sun and have noon at different times. When the sun altitude
is the highest at a place, the watches there are set at 12:00 noon. Such watches will thus show the
local time of that place. The local time is measured with the help of sun dial.

Greenwich Mean Time

When the sun makes right angle at 0° Meridian, it is 0 hour or 12 noon at Greenwich. It is
called as Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T).


Standard Time
Many large countries have vast longitudinal extant and different longitudes have different
times. If each longitudes uses its own time, there great inconvenience and confusion in railway,
post & telegraph, radio and television and air services etc. thus entire life will put out of gear. In
order to overcome this difficulty, each country uses some important longitudes as its standard
longitude. The longitude may pass through the capital of the country or through some other
important city. The local time of this longitude is treated as the standard time for the entire
country. Similarly in Pakistan, local time of Lahore is considered as standard time for whole of
Pakistan and it is 5 hour ahead from Greenwich mean time.

In the northern hemisphere, there is a bright star called Polaris (Polar or North Star).
Owing to its proximity to Pole (with in 1° from Pole), it is most favorably situated and is most
commonly used for the determination of azimuth and latitude. It can be easily identified by mean
of castellation (group) of stars called the “Great Bear” or “Usra Major”.


Triangulation is based on Trigonometrical proposition that if one side and three
angles of a triangle are known, the remaining sides can be computed by applying the sine rule.
Suitable points called triangulation stations are selected and established throughout the area to be
surveyed. Each station forms the apex of at least one triangle (Figure). The length of only one
line in this network called base line (say AB) of triangle ABC is obtained very precisely and all
the angles are measured. This triangle is solved, if one side (AB) and any two angles are known,
to give magnitudes of other sides. Contiguous triangles such as BCD, ABE, ACF etc. can then be
solved since the angles will be measured and length of common sides (e.g. AB, BC, AC) will be

1. Primary or First Order Triangulation
2. Secondary or Second Order triangulation
3. Tertiary or Third Order triangulation

1. Primary or First Order Triangulation

The main characteristics of primary Triangulation are:
1. Very large areas are covered.
2. Highest possible degree of precision is secured.
3. The length of the base line varies from 5 to 20 Km.
4. The length of the triangles sides varies from 30 to 160 Km.
5. The average triangle closure is 1 to 3 second.
6. The degree of accuracy is 1 in 500,000.
7. The check on the base is 1 in 25,000.


2. Secondary or Second Order Triangulation
The main characteristics of Secondary Triangulation are:
1. These triangles are formed with in the primary Triangles.
2. Not an utmost degree of precision is secured.
3. The length of the base line varies from 2 to 5 Km.
4. The length of the triangles sides varies from 8 to 70 Km.
5. The average triangle closure is 3to 8 second.
6. The degree of accuracy is 1 in 50,000.
7. The check on the base is 1 in 10,000.

3. Tertiary or Third Order Triangulation

The main characteristics of tertiary Triangulation are:
1. These triangles are formed with in the secondary Triangles.
2. Not an utmost degree of precision is secured.
3. The length of the base line varies from 1 to 3 Km.
4. The length of the triangles sides varies from 1.5 to 10 Km.
5. The average triangle closure is 6 second to 12 second.
6. The degree of accuracy is 1 in 5,000.
7. The check on the base is 1 in 5000.

Well-conditioned triangle:

A triangle having angle from 30° to 120° is known as well condition triangle.

Ill-conditioned triangles:

A triangle having angle less than 30° and more than 120° is known as ill condition

Reconnaissance survey:

Reconnaissance is a rapid and rough but detailed survey of the entire area.
Before the actual construction of a highway, railroad or pipeline can begin, a great deal of
investigative work has to be carried out. The final route chosen will reflect costs due to
topography (cuts and fills), costs of relocating services, costs of rail, highway, and water-
crossing bridges, environmental impacts and a host of other considerations. It is the most
important survey conducted for the location of line and form the basis and the key of the project.

Purpose of Reconnaissance Surveys:

“To gather initial information on possible design corridors”.

Area information is first assembled from
•Aerial photographs
• Cadastral maps
• Existing road design plans


• Topographic maps
• Location of soil and geotechnical tests

When the route has been selected, the proposed centerline is established in the
field with the stationing carried through from the initial point to the terminal point. Horizontal
control monuments, and both permanent and temporary benchmarks, are established along the
route, their placement intervals are usually less than 1,000 ft (300 m).

The basic idea behind the development of Total Station is the fact that the
equipment can be used to perform all surveying operations in one go from a station (or point)
and hence the name. Thus, a total station is equipment that can electronically measure both
angles and distances and perform limited computational tasks using an internal micro-processor
such as reduction of slope to horizontal distance, computations of coordinates from a bearing and
distance etc.

Working of Total Station

There are many surveying tasks where Total Station can be used effectively. These
include preliminary control and construction surveys etc. However, these have mostly been used
for topographic surveys where the three coordinates of a point (i.e. Northing, Easting and
Heights above Mean sea level) are required. Typical steps in the operation of a Total Station for
a traverse computation can be listed as below.
 Entry of Initial Data.
 Entry of Traverse Station (Occupied Point) and Feature (Sighted Point) Code
 Measurement of Angles and Distances


After switching on the equipment, at first instance, some initial data are fed to it through
the controller. These data include the description of the project, date and survey team,
atmospheric pressure and temperature values, prism constant, sea level, curvature and refraction
corrections, choice of measurement units etc. It is likely that you may bypass feeding of certain
data as the default values may themselves be sufficient.


All the traverse stations and features to be plotted must be given a suitable coding system
for their recognition. The coding system varies from one model of Total Station to the other.
These codes may be entered through the keypad on most of the equipment. Some models now
have the provision of bar codes to enter the codes. For the traverse station, in addition to the
station codes, the data such as height of instrument, station name and number, coordinates of
traverse station (forward and backward), azimuth of reference line etc. may also be entered.
Similarly, for the sighted point, besides its code, the other data to be supplied are height of prism
or reflector, point name and number etc.


After entering the required data, an observer may start taking measurements using the
following steps.
a. Centre the Total Station over the traverse station 11.
b. Sight at station 14, zero the horizontal circle.

c. Enter code of sighted station 14.

d. Measure and enter the height of prism/reflector.
e. Press appropriate measure key as there may be different keys for different measurements such
as horizontal and vertical angles, horizontal and vertical distances etc.
f. Press record button.
g. From this traverse station, any number of points signifying the topographical features such as
101, 102, 103 are sighted and their measurements recorded. For doing this, the prism mounted on
a pole has to be moved to the respective points.
h. Once measurement and recording of all the points is completed, the Total Station is moved to
the next traverse station (i.e., 12) and the procedure is repeated till all the stations are covered.


All the models of the Total Station are supplied with software for processing the data
stored in the data collector or electronic field book. The processing may require operations such
as preliminary analysis, adjustments and coordinate computations. (For example, to process the
data from Leica models, the software LISCAD may be used). However, the software supplied
with other model may also be used to process the data captured by Leica model through some
manipulations. For any data processing, first the data have to be downloaded from the electronic
field book to computer where the software is installed. It is possible to connect the field book
directly to the computer through a cable. Otherwise, the data stored in the memory card of the
field book can be inserted into appropriate slot in the computer for its transfer. The data transfer
is followed by desired processing operation for the computation of coordinates of points and

After processing the field data in the desired form (i.e., the coordinates), the data
required for plotting may be assembled and the survey can be quickly plotted at any scale on a
printer or a plotter. The symbols necessary for plotting different topographical features can be
extracted from the symbol library provided in the software. Some software have the provisions
of generating your own symbols, if these are not available in the software.


A contour is defined as an imaginary line of constant elevation on the ground surface. It
can also be defined as the line of intersection of a level surface with the ground surface. For
example, the line of intersection of the water surface of a still lake or pond with the surrounding
ground represents a contour line.

Contour Map
A map showing contour lines is known as Contour map.
A contour map gives an idea of the altitudes of the surface features as well as their relative
positions in plan serves the purpose of both, a plan and a section.

The process of tracing contour lines on the surface of the earth is called Contouring.


A contour or contour line is defined as a line of intersection of level surface with the surface of
the ground. Thus, every point on a contour line has the same elevation. Therefore, contour line
may also be defined as a line joining the points of equal elevation. The shore line of a reservoir
with still water represents a contour line of fixed reduced level. As the water level changes, the
new shore line represents another contour of a different R.L. The contour lines of an area are
presented in a map known as a contour map or topographic map. In addition to contour lines, a
topographic map includes the features like streams, rivers, reservoirs, valleys, hills, bridges,
culverts, roads, fences etc.

Basic features of contouring

 A contour line is drawn to show places of equal heights.
 Contour lines and their shapes represent the height and slope or gradient of the landform.
 Closely spaced contours represent steep slopes while widely spaced contours represent
gentle slope.
 When two or more contour lines merge with each other, they represent features of
vertical slopes such as cliffs or waterfalls.
 Two contours of different elevation usually do not cross each other’s.
 Contour line cannot merge or cross one another on the map, except in the case of an
overhanging cliff.
 A series of closed contours on the map indicate a depression or a summit, according as
the lower or higher values are inside them.
 Contour line cross ridge lines or valley lines at right angles.

Terms related to contouring

It is long and narrow highland sloping steeply down words on its sides. Its length is much
larger than its width.


Ridge lines
A ridge line is shown when the higher values are inside the loop or bend in the

A geomorphic feature lying between two hills or ridges and formed as a result of the
lateral erosion by a river or a glacier is called a valley.

It is a very steep or almost perpendicular face of landform. On a map, a cliff may be
identified by the way the contours run very close to one another, ultimately merging into one.

Overhanging Cliff
In this type of cliff, the lower part of the hill has been eroded by the sea waves and the
upper part of the hill project over the sea. This is the only feature in which the contours cut and
cross each other.

Contour interval.
The constant vertical distance between two consecutive contour lines is called the contour
interval. The contour interval is kept constant, otherwise the map will be misleading. The
horizontal distance between any two consecutive contour lines is known as the “horizontal
equivalent”. The horizontal equivalent, for a given contour interval depends on the nature of the

Factors on Which Contour Interval Depends

The contour interval depends upon the following factors:-

The Nature of the Ground

In flat and uniformly sloping country, the contour interval is small ,but in broken and
mountainous region the contour interval should be large otherwise the contours will come too
close to each other.

The Purpose and extent of the survey

Contour interval is small if the area to be surveyed is small and the maps are required to be used
for the design work or for determining the quantities of earth work etc. while wider interval shall
have to be kept for large areas and comparatively less important works.

The Scale of the Map

The contour interval should be in the inverse ratio to the scale of the map i.e. the smaller the
scale, the greater is the contour interval.

Time and Expense of Field and Office work

The smaller the interval, the greater is the amount of field-work and plotting work.


Purpose of Contouring
(i) By inspection of a contour map, information regarding the characters of the terrain
is obtained, whether it is flat, undulating or rolling etc.
(ii) Contour map is very useful for taking up land leveling works.
(iii) With the help of contour map, suitable site for reservoirs, canal, drainage
channels, roads, railway etc. can be selected.
(iv) Total drainage area and capacity of reservoirs can be determined with the help
of contour map.
(v) Computation of earth work is possible from contour map.
(vi) Contour maps are essential for taking up any soil conservation works like
terracing, bunding, construction of structures and spillways.
(vii) In coastal areas for construction of brackish water fish farm contour map is
required to decide about the type of farm to be constructed i.e. tide -fed or
pump-fed farm.
(viii) Intervisibility of any two points can be known from the contour map.
(ix) From the contour map of agricultural land, most suitable method of irrigation
for a particular crop can be decided.
(x) Section can easily be drawn from contours.
(xi) A route with a given slope can be traced on a contour map.


Contours- Map preparation
A contour is defined as an imaginary line of constant elevation on the ground
surface. It can also be defined as the line of intersection of a level surface with the ground
surface. For example, the line of intersection of the water surface of a still lake or pond with the
surrounding ground represents a contour line.

Locating Contours
The various method of locating contours may be classified as:
1. Indirect method 2.Direct Method

1. Indirect method of contouring

In this method, the spot levels of selected guide points are taken with a level and their levels are
computed. The horizontal positions of these points are measured or computed and the points are
plotted on the plan. The contours are then drawn by a process called interpolation of contours
from the levels of the guide points. The following are the indirect methods are commonly used
for locating contours.
•Squares or Grid method
•Cross section method
•Tacheometric method

Square or grid method

In this method, the area to be surveyed is divided into a grid or series of squares. The grid size
may vary from 5 m x 5 m to 25 m x 25 m depending upon the nature of the terrain, the contour
interval required and the scale of the map desired. Also, the grids may not be of the same size
throughout but may vary depending upon the requirement and field conditions. The grid corners
are marked on the ground and spot levels of these comers are determined by leveling. The grid is
plotted to the scale of the map and the spot levels of the grid corners are entered. The contours of
desired values are then located by interpolation. Special care should be taken to give the spot
levels to the salient features of the ground such as hilltops, deepest points of the depressions, and
their measurements from respective corners of the grids, for correct depiction of the features. The
method is used for large scale mapping and at average precision.

Cross section method

In this method, a base line, centre line or profile line is considered. Cross sections are taken
perpendicular to this line at regular intervals. After this, points are marked along the cross
sections at regular intervals. A temporary bench mark is set up near the site. Staff readings are
taken along the base line and the cross sections. The readings are entered in the level book the
base line and the cross sections should also be mentioned. The RL of each of the points
calculated. Then the base line and cross sections are plotted to a suitable scale. Subsequently the
RLs of the respective points are noted on the map, after which the required contour line is drawn
by interpolation
This method is suitable for route survey, when cross sections are taken transverse to the
longitudinal section.

Tacheometric Method
Home Assignment

Method of interpolation of contours

The process of locating the contours proportionately between the plotted points is termed
interpolation. Interpolation may be done by:
•By Estimation
•Arithmetical calculation
•The graphical method
•By Formula (Similar triangles)

Direct method of contouring

In this method, the contour to be plotted are actually located on the ground with a level or hand
level by marking various point on each contour. These points are then surveyed and then plotted
on plan. This method is very slow and tedious but most accurate and is used for contouring small
areas, and where great accuracy is required.


Procedure of Direct Method
To start with, a temporary B.M is established near the area to be surveyed with reference to a
permanent B.M by fly leveling. The level is then set up in such a position so that the maximum
number of points can be commanded from the instrument station. The height of instrument is
determined by taking a back sight on the B.M. and adding it to the R.L. of bench mark. The staff
reading required to fix points on the various contours is determined by subtracting the R.L. of
each of the contours from the height of instrument.

Example of Direct Method

If the height of instrument is 82.48m., then the staff readings required to locate 82, 81 and 80m
contours are 0.48, 1.48 and 2.48m respectively. The staff is held on an approximate position of
point and then moved up and down the slope until the desired reading is obtained. The point is
marked with a peg. Similarly various other points are marked on each contour. The line joining
all these points give the required contour. It may be noted that one contour is located at a time.
Having fixed the contours within the range of the instrument, the level is shifted and set up in a
new position.

The new height of instrument and the required staff readings are then calculated in a similar
manner and the process repeated till all the contours are located. The positions of the contour
points are located suitably either simultaneous with levelling or afterwards. A theodolite , a
compass or a plane table traversing is usually adopted for locating these points. The points are
then plotted on the plan and the contours drawn by joining the corresponding points by dotted
curved lines.

Method of Radial Lines

This method is suitable for small areas, where a single point in the centre can command the
whole area. Radial lines are laid out from the common centre by theodolite or compass and their
positions are fixed up by horizontal angles and bearings.

Temporary bench marks are first established at the centre and near the ends of the radial lines
.The contour points are then located and marked on these lines and their positions are determined


by measuring their distances along the radial lines. They are then plotted on the plan and the
contours drawn by joining all the corresponding points with the help of a plane table instrument.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

The GPS is an emerging technology in the field of geodesy, geography, surveying and
spatial analysis. In particular, the technology overcomes the limitations of the conventional field
surveying methods, such as the requirement of Intervisibility of survey stations, dependability on
weather, difficulties in night observations etc.
Advantages over the conventional techniques, economy in operation and time makes the GPS
most promising surveying technique of the future.

The NAVSTAR (Navigational Satellite Timing and Ranging) GPS, developed by United States
Department of Defense, is a satellite-based radio navigation system that can provide three-
dimensional position and time information in one go.

The system can be successfully used for many civil engineering and other applications such as :
a.Provision of geodetic control.
b.Alignment surveys.
c.Large Scale Mapping.
d.Navigation of ships and aircrafts.
e.Crustal movement studies.
f.Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Segments of GPS
GPS has three segments
1.Space segment
2.Control segment
3.User segment

1. Space Segment
The space segment consists of 24 satellites and 5 additional satellites. These satellites are placed
in six orbital plane at a height of 26,200 km semi major axis. Each orbit is inclined at 55 degrees
to the equator and each satellite completes one rotation in 12 hours of sidereal time. This
provides a repeat satellite configuration every day four minutes earlier in respect to universal

2. Control Segment
There are five control stations around the globe that continuously track the satellites and feed the
information to the Master Control station at Colorado, USA. At control stations, the
pseudoranges (to be explained later) are determined to all the visible satellites. This information,
along with local meteorological data, is sent to Master Control station. From these data, satellite
ephemeris and the behavior of the satellite clocks are computed which are then transmitted in the
form of navigation (message) data to the ground antennas.


3. User Segment
A user segment consists of a GPS receiver with antenna and power supply unit. A GPS receiver
must have enough channels with low noise level to collect data from all the available satellites. A
minimum of eight channels is recommended for the determination of accurate position. The
antenna is of two types – Chock Ring and Micro strip antenna.

GPS Equipment
A complete GPS set has three major parts as given below :

Principle of GPS
The basic principle of GPS is to determine the position of points in three-
dimensional space. The determination of position is based on measurement of distances from the
point of observations to the GPS satellite. The distances are computed by observing the travel
time of the signals from the satellite to the point. The travel time has a systematic bias because
the satellite and the receiver clocks are of different precisions. The satellite has atomic clock
whereas the receiver has quartz clock. Thus, the computed distances (also referred to as range)
shall be biased and, therefore, these are called pseudoranges.

To compute the position based on this pseudorange, the error due to time bias has to be
corrected. It is because of this reason that time is also taken as unknown and determined before
deriving the true range. The range can be determined from,
𝑅=(𝑋𝑠−𝑋)2+(𝑌𝑠−𝑌)2+(𝑍𝑠−𝑍)2 ……..(1)
where X, Y and Z are the co-ordinates of the point, on the ground and Xs, Ys and Zs denote the
position of the satellite broadcast by the Master Control station.

To find the true range, the time bias t has also to be considered. Thus,
𝑅=(𝑋𝑠−𝑋)2+(𝑌𝑠−𝑌)2+(𝑍𝑠−𝑍)2 +tc …….(2)
where c is the velocity of light.
From Eq. (2), it can be seen that there are four unknowns (i.e., X, Y, Z and t). Therefore, the data
from at least 4 satellites have to be collected for the solution of this equation.