Geodesy – Surveying the Whole Earth

To the uninitiated, surveying can sometimes seem like a fairly simple concept that has only a few practical applications. Yet this cannot be the case, as surveying has influence in nearly all aspects of our modern society. In truth, land surveying is a complicated science that integrates mathematics, sophisticated instruments, and high levels of accuracy. And in some cases, it even incorporates gravity.

Geodesy is one such branch on the tree of surveying. These super accurate land-mapping methods utilise the curvature of the earth as well as it’s own shape and position in space. Combine this with the specific points being surveyed and you have the basis of the science that is geodesy–and where it fits in the surveying puzzle.

Geodetic Thought

Almost since time began, humans have debated the shape and size of our planet earth. Discussions and curiosity continued across the world throughout all civilisations for many years and bold attempts at scientific discovery were made. Development of tools such as the theodolite and telescope as well as the refinement of triangulation and other processes helped geodesy transform into the complex science it is today. The 1980 Geodetic Reference System helped set standards for geodesic calculations, ensuring accuracy and consistency across the globe.

How it Works

Geodesists have created and honed mathematical models of the earth that form a primary spatial reference system. These models include the curved lines that span vertically and horizontally, the ellipsoid and the geoid. Points on these help geodesists complete their measurements. The spatial system in place allows for accurate mapping, boundary demarcation, and other geomatics needs. In the past, geodetic surveyors could utilise only earth-based traditional tools to make measurements. Yet the advent of technology such as GPS has changed their methods dramatically in the work of today (as well as greatly improved accuracy).

Using Geodesy in the Modern World

While your typical property survey or pre-construction survey might not require the use of geodesy, the surveying and mapping of extremely large land masses often requires it. Such projects are very large-scale in nature and may involve government or national and international organisations. City planners and coastal developers also require geodetic survey services as well. The information gleaned from these can assist in guiding coastal restoration projects or helping with planning any number of urban or rural developments, especially those that may be impacted by coastal areas. Similarly, the maritime industry benefits greatly from geodesy, as the information helps to allow ships and cargo to move safely with full knowledge of the depth and character of the ocean and land surrounding them. This data ensures an efficient and problem-free experience for mariners.

While you may not require the complex work of geodetic surveying, it’s good to remember that the land survey plays an integral role in our society.
For all your NSW land surveying needs, we hope you’ll call our team at Leslie & Thompson. Professional land mapping, property surveying, and additional services can be procured through our organisation.