The Science of Topographic Surveys

Topography is a geographical term defined as the study and mapping of the features on the surface of land, including natural features such as mountains and rivers as well as constructed features such as highways and railroads. This term is usually confined for a particular area regarding all of its features.

According to the Encarta Encyclopedia, Topography is a layout of natural and artificial features on the surface of the earth, and the science of their detailed graphic representations on maps and charts.

Topographic Maps:

The most effective system to represent the earth’s surface in a specific area is to develop a topographic map. A topographic map represents the natural features as well as the artificial features of the land. The natural features include the mountains, hills, tree lines, rivers, grasslands, barren lands as well as contour lines. Artificial features comprise of “manmade” structures such as railway lines, buildings, utilities, houses, cities, roads and highways. There is an enormous amount of information included in a topographic map, which is why these maps are used for a variety of reasons. In addition to showing general locations and political boundaries, this type of map offers many advantages because they depict the geology and special features of an area.

Topographic Surveying:

topographic-surveyingTopographic surveys are one of the most important categories in surveying in which the data collected is drawn onto three-dimensional contour maps. Both horizontal and vertical data can be recorded by employing different techniques of surveying. The contour lines and different points of the land are used for elevation representations in 3 dimensional forms. Due to technological advancements, aircrafts and artificial satellites are now able to obtain topographical images of some obscure pieces of land. Precise cameras and precision enhancing equipment are employed by the surveyor to record this data. These pictures from satellites are then reconditioned to stereo models for precise study and collectively will become a point of reference for anyone who needs to use them.

Use of Topographical Science:

topography-surveysAccording to the website of U.S. Geological survey, the objective of Topographic Science within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Science and Applications Branch is to establish partnerships and conduct research and applications that facilitate the development and use of integrated national and global topographic datasets. Topographic Surveying consists of research and applications that result in improved seamless topographic datasets, advanced elevation technology research, and terrain visualization research. Integrated-science applications for mapping, natural resource initiatives, hazards, and global change can all be attributed to the importance of topographical surveys.

Key Takeaways:

  • Topography is a geographical term.

  • Topographic Surveys are a layout of natural and artificial features for a particular surface of the earth.

  • In topographic surveying data is collected and recorded onto three-dimensional contour maps.