## What Is Geodetic Surveying?

The **geodetic surveying is that type of surveying which takes into account** the curvature of the earth’s surface for **achieving high precision using principles of geodesy**. It generally **extends over large areas**.

## What Is Plane Surveying?

The **plane surveying is that type of surveying** **which does not take into account the curvature of the earth**, and the surface of the earth is treated as a plane surface.

If the area to be **surveyed is more than 1000 km ^{2}**, the angles measured on the surface of the earth cannot be in a plane surface but are on a

**curved surface, therefore, geodetic surveying must be employed to achieve precision for large areas**.

## Geodetic Surveying Vs. Plane Surveying

**Geodetic and Plane surveying** are the two categories of **surveying that differ** **mainly in the assumptions on which the computations are based**.

The measurements for **geodetic surveys are made to a higher order of accuracy**. In geodetic surveying (or geodesy), the **curved shape of the earth is taken into account**. It is usually of a rational character and is **undertaken by government agencies. e.g., the U.S. National Geodetic Survey**.

The **U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey**; the Ordnance Survey in the **U.K. and the Survey of India and the Geological Survey of India**. The aim may be purely scientific, that is, to **determine the size and shape of the earth,** or it may be the **production of accurate maps of large areas**.

Refined instruments and methods are used, and the absolute positions of a series of points on the earth’s surface are determined. These points serve as control points for surveys covering smaller areas. When large areas are involved, the computations must be based on the mean spheroidal shape of the earth.

But the assumption that the earth is a perfect sphere is adequate for areas such as a province or a city, simplifying the analysis significantly.

In any case, a** knowledge of spherical trigonometry and calculus is required**. However, it is now becoming common to do** geodetic computations in a three-dimensional, earth-centered, Cartesian coordinate system**.

**Plane surveying ignores the curved shape of the earth**, which is considered a plane. This is valid for s**urveys of small extent, where the effect of curvature is negligible**.

In-plane surveys, the directions of plumb-lines are considered parallel at different points, and all angles are plane angles. The sum of the three angles of a** spherical** **triangle is greater than that of the corresponding plane triangle**. This is **called the spherical excess**.

It is only **one second of arc for an area of about 200 sq. km on the earth**. This indicates that **plane surveying procedures are adequate up to about 1000 sq. km**, although no definite limit can be assigned.

Most ordinary surveys fall in this category. Such surveys are undertaken for the** location and construction of highways, railways, canals, and other civil engineering projects**.

They **may also be undertaken for scientific, geographical navigational, and military purposes**. The operation of leveling to determine elevations is usually considered a division of plane surveying.

However, the datum will have to be a **curved surface if the earth’s shape is to be accounted** for. The curvature can be ignored in leveling operations that involve **very small areas and where rough values are adequat**e.

## Difference Between Plane Surveying and Geodetic Surveying

Sr.No. |
Plane Surveying |
Geodetic Surveying |

1 | The earth surface is considered as a plain surface | The earth surface is considered as a curved surface |

2 | The line formed by any two points are considered as a straight line â€“ as the same angles are plain angles | The line formed by joining any two points are considered as arch â€“as the same angles are spherical angles |

3 | Plane Surveying Effect of the curvature of the earth’s surface is ignored. | Geodetic Surveying Effect of the curvature of the earth’s surface is included. |

4 | Length up to 12KM is treated as plane surveying. | Length more than 12KM is treated as geodetic surveying. |

5 | Plane Surveying Suitable for small area surveying | Geodetic SurveyingÂ Suitable for large area surveying |

6 | Plane Survey accuracy is low | Geodetic Survey accuracy is high |

7 | Involves smaller areas less than about 260 km^{2}. |
Involves larger areas more than about 260 km^{2}. |

8 | Economical and easy survey method | The special instrument needed and long survey method |

9 | Knowledge of plane trigonometry is required. | Knowledge of spherical trigonometry is required. |

10 | Used in general civil engineering survey project work | They are used for the precise location of a widely distant area. |

11 | Plane surveying uses normal instruments like a chain, measuring tape, theodolite, etc. | Geodetic surveying uses more precise instruments and modern technology like GPS. |

12 | Done locally by the individual organization | Done by the concerned state or government department. |

## FAQs on Geodetic Surveying and Plane Surveying

**What is geodetic surveying?**

Geodetic surveying is a type of surveying that takes into account the curvature of the Earth’s surface to achieve high precision, using principles of geodesy. It is generally used for large areas and involves refined instruments and methods.

**What is plane surveying?**

Plane surveying is a type of surveying where the curvature of the Earth is ignored, and the surface is treated as a plane. This method is suitable for small areas where the effect of curvature is negligible.

**When should geodetic surveying be used instead of plane surveying?**

Geodetic surveying should be used when the area to be surveyed exceeds 1000 kmÂ², as the angles measured on the Earth’s surface in such large areas are curved and not planar.

**What are the main differences between geodetic and plane surveying?**

The main differences are:

- Geodetic surveying considers the Earth’s curvature; plane surveying treats the surface as a plane.
- Geodetic surveys are used for large areas; plane surveys are suitable for smaller areas.
- Geodetic surveys require knowledge of spherical trigonometry; plane surveys require knowledge of plane trigonometry.
- Geodetic surveys use precise instruments and modern technology like GPS; plane surveys use traditional instruments like chains, measuring tapes, and theodolites.

**What kind of projects typically use plane surveying?**

Plane surveying is typically used for civil engineering projects such as the location and construction of highways, railways, canals, and other infrastructure projects. It is also used for scientific, geographical, navigational, and military purposes on a smaller scale.

**What is the accuracy difference between geodetic and plane surveying?**

Geodetic surveying achieves a higher order of accuracy by considering the Earth’s curvature, whereas plane surveying has lower accuracy due to the assumption of a flat surface.

**Why is spherical trigonometry required in geodetic surveying?**

Spherical trigonometry is required in geodetic surveying because it deals with the calculations on the curved surface of the Earth, which is essential for accurate measurements over large areas.

**Who typically conducts geodetic surveys?**

Geodetic surveys are typically conducted by government agencies or state departments, such as the U.S. National Geodetic Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Ordnance Survey in the U.K., and Survey of India.

**Can plane surveying be used for leveling operations?**

Yes, plane surveying can be used for leveling operations for small areas where rough values are adequate. However, for precise leveling over large areas, the curvature of the Earth must be considered.

**What is the spherical excess in surveying?**

Spherical excess refers to the phenomenon where the sum of the three angles of a spherical triangle is greater than that of a plane triangle. This excess becomes significant over large areas, necessitating geodetic surveying methods.