The Types of Land Surveys

Detailed land surveys can identify risks of landslides and other potential problems.
Detailed land surveys can identify risks of landslides and other potential problems. (Image: surveyor image by itsallgood from

The most common types of land surveying are topographical and boundary surveys, which are in demand because they focus directly on matters of standard cartography and property management. The next most common type of survey makes use of state-of-the-art GPS imagery to aid geologists in locating resources.

Topographical Surveys

A topographical survey accurately measures both the two-dimensional plane and the elevation aspect, creating a three-dimensional representation map of the area. Topographical maps are used in planning new communities, developing farmland, and predicting the potential movement of rainwater in applicable areas. By closely monitoring the topographical layout of an area, property owners can avoid placing critical structures on likely flood plains. Adding a geological aspect to a topographical survey can help identify the risk of landslides or soil liquefaction, both of which can cause severe property damage.

Boundary Surveys

Boundary surveys are conducted to clearly quantify property borders; they are typically done when the property is transferred between owners or sold off by the government. A boundary survey can also be helpful in identifying any errors in legal boundaries of the land as they relate to currently existing structures, which may necessitate boundary renegotiation.

GPS Surveys

Global positioning satellite (GPS) technology enables surveyors to determine latitude and longitude and elevations more precisely. leading to more accurate maps. Some surveyors opt to use a combination of GPS systems and traditional methods, though it is technically possible to complete some types of survey more quickly with a GPS system alone.

Resource Exploration Surveys

Resource exploration surveys typically include sensor data from aerial surveillance methods, such as thermal imaging, to denote variations in ground temperature that can indicate the presence of metallic ores. While the sensor information can give a general indication of potential ore sites, the technology as of 2011 cannot yet determine exact material composition in the absence of physical specimens. Thus, ground teams are still required to gather samples in areas identified by aerial reconnaissance.

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