I love researching new things. My daughter is a sixth grader and they just began a new area of study on maps. I have also been very interested lately in Civil Engineers. They play a large role, if not the largest role, in making and keeping our society running as it does. They create buildings, roads, bridges and all the things that keep us functioning smoothly as a society. What intrigued me was that Civil Engineers use a type of map I had never heard of before, a topographic map. Topographic surveying is done to create these maps and determine the relative location of points of interest on Earth. Surveyors use a technique that measures the horizontal distances to show the difference in elevation and direction so that it can be represented on a topographic map.

Landform elevation is important to be represented on a map for any type of geographical planning. Civil Engineers use these when creating structures, highways, bridges, overpasses and so many of the things that society uses to provide convenience to our modern lifestyles. Topographical maps are also important in mining and other endeavors that involve the Earth’s surface. People who are serious hikers or orienteers use these highly detailed maps along with compasses to identify their location when in areas that are less common to everyday explorers.

Topographic surveying is used to determine where larger streams, big bodies of water, forests, significant structures and points of interest should be place on topographic maps. Arial photographers and remote sensing techniques help topographic surveyors give accurate detail when the maps are being created. As with modern maps, signs, symbols and color help to designate different details on these maps and are explained within the margins of the topographic maps.

There are several principles that need to be considered when taking part in topographic surveying. Surveyors must determine a scale to use in before starting any land measuring. This helps determine any plot able errors. It is also important that most accurate methods of surveying are used first. Each survey that is taken should be oriented taking into consideration true north. Initially surveying should begin by establishing a vertical and horizontal rule which can be accomplished by measuring the three d’s of surveying; distance, direction and difference in the rise between fixed points. Lastly, a survey plan should be in places that consist of checks on accurateness. Examples include surveying between two fixed points or even pacing measured distances.

It is just so interesting to me all of the tools that I don’t even take into consideration on a daily basis that help to make the world around me run as it does. It is so neat to look at things from a new perspective as the kids are studying topics that I have long placed in a folder in the back of my memory bank marked unimportant. It is fun to place these random pieces of knowledge back into a place of recognition within my head.