What is a Land Survey? - Definition & Types

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Rectangular Survey System: Definition & Uses

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Land Survey Defined
  • 0:37 Geodetic & Topographic Surveys
  • 1:45 Cadastral Survey
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Surveys are used to identify boundaries and features of land to determine ownership. They are employed in construction projects ranging from building fences to entire cities. In this lesson, you'll learn what a survey is and about the different types of surveys used today.

Land Survey Defined

Meet Galvin, Terry, and Calvin, who are surveyors specializing in different types of surveys. A land survey, or simply survey, is the scientific process of measuring the dimensions of a particular area of the earth's surface, including its horizontal distances, directions, angles, and elevations. Artificial structures, such as a road or building, may also be noted on a survey. Once these measurements are taken, they can be used to make a map or even a globe. However, not all surveys are the same, so let's take a look at three major types.

Geodetic & Topographic Surveys

Geodetic Survey

Galvin takes geodetic surveys. A geodetic survey is one that involves the measurement of a very large area of the earth that must take into account the earth's curvature. Since they take into account the actual curvature of the earth, these surveys can be very accurate. Galvin's geodetic surveys are used as important references that other surveyors will use when surveying smaller areas of land, such as a typical farm or city lot.

Topographic Survey

Terry conducts topographic surveys. A topographic survey includes measurements of the vertical elevation of the surface being surveyed as well as the artificial structures on it. Topographic surveys are widely used by governments and businesses engaging in construction. For example, Terry may conduct a topographical survey of land just annexed by a city which plans to build roads and other infrastructure for economic development. He may conduct a topographic survey of a mountain site for a developer who is considering the construction of a ski resort on the slopes. Likewise, an entrepreneur may commission a topographic survey to determine the suitability of land for a golf course.

Cadastral Survey

Last but not least is Calvin, who does cadastral surveys. Cadastral surveys are conducted to determine the boundaries between parcels of real estate, regardless of whether the land is privately or publicly owned. A cadastral survey determines the legal boundary that will be recognized for all legal purposes, such as determining property taxes or the exact area of ground that will be transferred when a property is sold.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account