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Closed Traverse
a. Closed Traverse the lines return to the starting point, forming a closed
figure that is both geometrically and mathematically closed. Closed traverses
provide checks on the observed angles and distances, which is an extremely
important consideration.
b. Link Traverse the lines on a link traverse finish upon another station that
should have a positional accuracy equal to or greater than that of the starting
point. The link type (geometrically open and mathematically closed), as
illustrated in the figure below, It must have a closing reference direction, line
E Az Mk2.
These two types of traverse are used extensively in control, construction,
property, and topographic surveys.

Fig. 1 Examples of a Traverse

If the distance between stations C and E in Figure 1 (a) were observed, the
resultant set of observations would become what is called a network. A
network involves the interconnection of stations within the survey to create
additional redundant observations. Networks offer more geometric checks
than closed traverses. For instance, in figure 1 (a), after computing
coordinates on stations C and E using elementary procedures, the observed
distance CE can be compared against a value obtained by inversing the
coordinates (this will be discussed further on the next lesson).
2. Open Traverse
An open traverse (geometrically and mathematically open) shown in the
Figure 2 are consists of a series of lines that are connected but do not return to the
starting point or close upon a point of equal or greater order accuracy. Open
traverses should be avoided because they offer no means of checking for
observational error and mistakes. If they must be used, observations should be
repeated carefully to guard against mistakes.

Fig. 2 Open Traverse

The methods used in observing angles and directions of traverse lines vary and
include the following:

Interior angles
Angles to the right
Deflection angles

Traversing by Interior Angles

Interior-angle traverses are used for many types of work, but they are especially
convenient for property surveys. Although interior angles could be observed either
clockwise or counterclockwise, to reduce mistakes in reading, recording, and
computing, they should always be turned clockwise from the backsight
station to the foresight station. The procedure is illustrated in the Figure 1(a). In this
course, except for left deflection angles, clockwise turning will always be assumed.
Furthermore, when angles are designated by three station letters or numbers, the
backsight station will be given first, the occupied station second and the foresight
station third. Thus angle EAB of Figure 1(a) was observed at station A, with the
backsight on station E and the foresight at station B.
Interior angles may be improved by averaging equal numbers of direct and
reversed readings. As a check, exterior angles may also be observed to close the
horizon. In the traverse shown on figure 1(a), a reference line A-Az MK of known
direction exists. Thus, the clockwise angle at A from Az MK to E must also be
observed to enable determining the directions of all other lines. This would not be
necessary if the traverse contained a line of known direction.

Traversing by Angles to the Right

Angles observed clockwise from a backsight on the rearward traverse

station to a foresight on the forward traverse station are called angles to the
right. According to this definition, to avoid ambiguity in angle-to-the-right
designations, the sense of the forward traverse direction must be established.
This is normally done by consecutive numbering or lettering of traverse stations so
that they increase in the forward direction. Depending on the direction of the
traversing, angles to the right may be interior or exterior angles in a polygon
traverse. If the direction of traversing is counterclockwise around the figure, then
clockwise interior angles will be observed. However, if the direction of traversing is
clockwise, then exterior angles will be observed. Data collectors generally follow
this convention when traversing. Thus in the figure 1(b), for example, the direction
from A to B, B to C, C to D, etc., is forward. By averaging equal numbers of direct
and reversed readings, observed angles to the right can also be checked and their
accuracy improved. From the foregoing definitions of interior angles and angles to
the right, it is evident that in a polygon traverse the only difference between the
two types of observational procedure may be ordering of the backsight and
foresight stations since both procedures observe clockwise angles.
Traversing by Deflection Angles
Route surveys are commonly run by deflection angles observed to the right or
left from the lines extended, as indicated in Figure 2. A deflection angle is not
complete without a designation R or L, and, of course, it cannot exceed 180. Each
angle should be doubled or quadrupled, and an average value determined. The
angles should be observed an equal number of times in face left and face right to
reduce instrumental errors. Deflection angles can be obtained by subtracting 180
from angles to the right. Positive values so obtained denote right deflection angles;
negative ones are left.
Traversing by Azimuths
With a total station instruments, traverses can be run sing azimuths. This
process permits reading azimuths of all lines directly and thus eliminates the need
to calculate them. In the figure below, azimuths are observed clockwise from the
north end of the meridian through the angle points. The instrument is oriented at
each setup by sighting on the previous station with either the back azimuth on the
circle (if angles to the right are turned) or the azimuth (if deflection angles are
turned).Then forward station is sighted. The resulting reading on the horizontal
circle will be the forward lines azimuth.

Fig. 3 Azimuth Traverse

The length of each traverse line must be observed, and this is usually done
by the simplest and most economical method capable of satisfying the required
precision of a given project. Their speed, convenience, and accuracy makes the
EDM component of a total station instrument the most often used, although pacing,
taping, stadia distance measurement and any other methods can be employed. A
distinct advantage of traversing with total station instruments is that both angles
and distances observed both forward and back will provide increased accuracy, and
the repeat readings afford a check on the observations.
In a closed traverses, each course is observed and recorded as a separate
distance. On long link traverses for highways and railroads, distances are carried
along continuosly from the starting point using staioning. In figure 2, which uses
stationing in feet, for example, beginning with station 0 + 00 at point A, 100-ft
stations (1 + 00, 2 + 00, 3 + 00) are marked until hub B at station 4 + )) is reached.
Then stations 5 + 00, 6 + 00, 7 + 00, 8 + 00, and 8 + 19.60 are set along course
BC to C, etc. The length of a line in a stationed link traverse is the difference
between stationig at its end points; thus, the length link traverse is the difference
between stationing at its end points; thus, the length of line BC is 819.60 400.00 =
419.60 ft.
Positions selected for setting traverse stations vary with type of survey. In
general, guidelines to consider in choosing them include accuracy, utility, and
efficiency. Of course, intervisibility between adjacent stations, forward and back,
must be maintained for angle and distance observations. The stations should also
ideally be set in convenient locations that allow for easy access. Ordinarily, stations
are placed to create lines that are as long as possible. This not only increases
efficiency by reducing the number of intrument setups, but it also increases
accuracy in angle observations. However, utility may override using very long lines
because intermediatehubs, or stations at strategic locations, may be needed to
complete the surveys objectives.

Each different type of survey will have its unique requirements concerning
traverse stations placement. On property surveys, for example, traverse stations
are placement. On property surveys, for example, traverse stations are placed at
each corner if the actual boundary lines are not obstructed and can be occupied. If
offset lines are necessary, a stake is located near each corner to simplify the
observations and computations. Long lines and rolling terrain may necessitate extra
On route surveys, stations are set at each angle point and at other locations
where necessary to obtain topographic data or extend the survey. Usually the
centerline is run before construction begins, but it will likely be destroyed and need
replacement one or more times during various phases of the project. An offset
traverse can be used to avoid this problem.
A traverse run to provide control for topographic mapping serves as a
framework to which map details such as roads, buildings, streams, and hills are
referenced. Station locations must be selected to permit complete coverage of the
area to be mapped.
Since a traverse is itself the end on a property survey and the basis for all
other data in mapping, a single mistake or omission in recording is one too many. All
possible field and office checks must therefore be made. A partial se of field notes
for an interior angle traverse run using a total station is shown in the figure below.
Notice that details such as date, weather, instrumnet identifications, and party
members and their duties are recorded on theright-hand page of the notes. Also a
sketch with a north arrow is shown. The observed data is recorded on the left hand
page. First, each station that is occupied is identified, and the heights of the total
station instrument and reflector that apply at that station are recorded. Then
horizontal circle readings, zenith angles, horizontal distances, and elevation
differences observed at each station are recorded. Notice that each horizontal angle
is measured twice in the direct mode, and twice in the reversed mode. As noted
earlier, this practice eliminates instrumental errors and gives repeat angle values
for checking.

Fig. 4 Example Traverse Field Notes

The angular misclosure for an interior-angle traverse is the difference
between the sum of the observed angles and the geometrically correct total for the
polygon. The sum, , of the interior angles of a closed polygon should be
= (n 2) 180
where n is the number of sides, or angles, in the polygon. This formula is easily
derived from known facts. The sum of the angles in a triangle is 180; in a
rectangular, 360; and in a pentagon, 540. Thus, each side added to the three
required for a triangle increases the sum of the angles by 180. If the direction
about a traverse is clockwise when observing angles to the right, exterior angles will
be observed. In this case, the sum of the exterior angles will be
= (n + 2) 180
Figure 1(a) shows a five-sided figure in which, if the sum observed interior
angles equals 5400000, the angular misclosure is 5. Misclosures result from the
accumulation of random errors in the angle observations. Permissible misclosure
can be computes by the formula
c = Kn
where n is the number of angles, and K a constant that depends on the level of
accuracy specified for the survey, Values of K can be 1.7, 3, 4.5, 10, and 12,

The algebraic sums of the deflection angles in a closed-polygon traverse

equals 360, clockwise (right) deflections being considered plus and counterclockwise (left) deflections, minus. This rule applies if lines do not crisscross, or if
they cross an even number of times. When lines in a traverse cross an odd number
of times, the sum of right deflections equals the sum of left deflections.
A closed-polygon azimuth traverse is checked by setting up on the starting
point a second time, after having occupied the successive stations around the
traverse, and orienting by back azimuths. The azimuth of the first side is then
obtained a second time and compared with its original value. Any difference is the
misclosure. If the first point is not reoccupied, the interior angles computed from the
azimuths will automatically check the proper geometric total, even though one or
more of the azimuths may be incorrect.


Some sources of error in traversing are:
1. Poor selection of stations, resulting in bad sighting conditions caused by (a)
alternate sun and shadow (b) visibility of only the rods top, (c) line of sight
passing too close to the ground, (d) lines that are too short, and (e) sighting
into the sun.
2. Errors in observations of angles and distances.
3. Failure to observe angles an equal number of times direct and reversed.
Some mistakes in traversing are:

Occupying or sighting on the wrong station.

Incorrect orientation.
Confusing angles to the right and left.
Mistakes in note taking.
Misidentification of the sighted station.