Hydrographic surveying deals with bodies of water and coast lines, is recorded on charts, and records such features as bottom contours, channels, buoys, and shoals. Land surveying includes both geodetic surveying, used for large areas and taking into account the curvature of the earth's surface (see geodesy), and plane surveying, which deals with areas sufficiently small that the earth's curvature is negligible and can be disregarded. Plane surveying dates from ancient times and was highly developed in Egypt. It played an important role in American history in marking boundaries for settlements; surveying was a profession of distinction—both Washington and Jefferson worked for a time as surveyors. Branches of surveying are named according to their purpose, e.g., topographic surveying, used to determine relief (see contour), route surveying, mine surveying, construction surveying; or according to the method used, e.g., transit surveying, plane-table surveying, and photogrammetic surveying (securing data by photographs).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.