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SURVEYING 3B

2015
CHAPTER 6
6.1 The uses of a leveling instrument in engineering survey.
6.1.1

PAGE
2
2

6.1.1.1
6.1.1.1.1
6.1.1.1.2
6.1.1.1.3

Determination of Longitudinal sections

Fieldbook example
Drawing of the Longitudinal section
Drawing of the Formation line.

2
3
3
4

6.1.1.2
6.1.1.2.1
6.1.1.2.2
6.1.1.2.3

Determination of Cross-sections
Fieldbook example long and cross sections simultaneously
Individual Cross section fieldbook and the reduction of it
Drawing of the Cross-section
Example of a drawn cross section

5
5
6
6
7

6.1.1.3

Determination of Contours
Exercise from given leveling fieldbook observations of the corner points of a grid
6.1.1.3.1 Interpolation of contours
6.1.1.3.2 Setting out of contours and lines at a required slope in the field

8
9
9 - 14
15

16

6.2.1 Calculation of Areas curvilinear figures

6.2.1.1 Trapezoidal method
6.2.1.2 Simpsons rule
6.2.1.3 The Planimeter
6.2.1.4 Calculation of Areas of cross-sections and other of regular figures from co-ordinates
6.2.1.5 Example using a reduced cross section to draw it and calculate the area by coordinates

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17
18
18 - 19
20
21

6.2.2 Calculation of volumes

6.2.2.1 Mean end area method
6.2.2.2 Prismoidal rule
6.2.2.3 Prismoidal formulae

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22
23
23

24

6.3.1

24-26

6.3.2

27

6.3.3

28-30

6.3.4

30-31

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6.1

The uses of a leveling instrument in engineering survey.

In engineering survey all leveling operations revolves around the determination or setting out of
heights of points in the field.
In the first instance we need to determine the heights of different points on the site for the engineer
to be able to do planning to choose the best suited site or location and design the structure.
During the construction phase it is necessary to set out the structure on the planned heights in the
correct position and constantly keep control that the structure is built at the correct heights
throughout the construction process.

6.1.1

6.1.1.1 Determination of Longitudinal sections

In the design of new roads, re-designing of old roads, railways, canals, pipelines, power lines
and telephone lines a longitudinal section is required from the starting to the end point.
When a planned line structure such as a road is set out, pegs are placed on the proposed centre
line at every 20 meters continuous interval. These points are called Stake Value (SV) pegs.
For the drawing up of longitudinal sections the elevation of the SV points are taken as well as at
every slope change in between them.

The purpose is therefore to use the distances and related heights to draw a profile of the
ground surface as it is, to enable the engineer to plan the grading and slopes of a
proposed line structure.
Engineers will have to consult text books on Transportation engineering plus road or rail
construction and design for further information on the planning and design concepts and
rules.
For surveying purposes it is however sufficient to say that engineers try to avoid very
steep slopes as far as possible
Engineers have to take factors such as design speed, types and workloads of different
vehicles that will use the road, economical and viable slopes, plus cost factors such as
depth of excavation and fill into account.
For design purposes the engineer needs more information and it is therefore necessary to
determine the heights on the centre line where any manmade or natural features intercept
the proposed centre line.
Manmade features to be registered and levelled are features such as tops and bottoms of
embankments, canals as well as where other existing or planned roads, power- and
telephone lines intercept the proposed centre line.
Natural features to be registered and levelled are at every slope change, ditches, erosion
furrows, dry river beds, streams and rivers.
The heights on the centreline are much more important in planning and design and it is
therefore compulsory that longitudinal sections must be check levelled. Every successive
20 meter SV point must preferably be used as change points or if it is read as an
intermediate sight it must be read again in some way during the check line.

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2014

SURVEYING 3B
2015
6.1.1.1.1 Fieldbook example of typical longitudinal sections readings
POINT
BS
IS
FS
RISE
FALL
+
+
SV
0
3,850
20
2,595
40
1,150
60
3,065
0,425
80
2,525
10
3,995
0
10
3,120
5
111
3,400
117
2,890
12
1,875
2,375
0
12
0,800
6
13
1,325
0
14
2,110
2,585
0
14
3,455
4
15
2,495
0
15
1,050
7
16
2,595
0

RL
100,000

Remarks
IPC
IP
IP
IP
IP
Slope change
Slope change
In Erosion furrow
Side Erosion furrow
Slope change
Power line
Slope change
IP
Slope change
Slope change
Slope change
IP

6.1.1.1.2 Drawing of the Longitudinal section

When the longitudinal section of long to very long line structures are to be drawn the horizontal
scale will have to be reduced considerably to fit it in on any size of drawing paper. But, as said in
6.1.1.1 above, the height differences will not be excessively high so that if the vertical scale is
reduced accordingly you will lose the ability to really observe and appreciate the drawn profile.
Thus when a longitudinal section (profile) is drawn the ratio between the horizontal and vertical
scales is usually between 5 and 15 or even more. What you in effect see is a shrunken horizontal
scale or a stretched vertical scale. In reality the horizontal scale is shrunken 5 to 15 times more
than the vertical scale. The drawn profile is therefore not a true image of the natural ground. For
the user the distances will appear too short and the slopes will appear exaggerated.
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After reducing the longitudinal section fieldbook we start off by drawing a horizontal Datum line
and on this the stake values are marked off to a suitable horizontal scale. At each 20 meter SV
point a perpendicular vertical line is drawn and the corresponding vertical distance (reduced level)
marked off on it to a suitable vertical scale. The perpendicular vertical lines are called ordinates.
In a table of five (5) lines, drawn directly below the longitudinal section, the 20 meter continuous
Stake Values is written in on the ordinates as well as the existing ground level (GL) and the
formation level (FL) of each SV point.
The stake values of every additional point that was read where either slope changes or natural /
manmade features intercept the centre line must also be written in.
On the last two lines the difference between the GL and FL must be written in as a CUT or FILL
Use the following longitudinal section graph below, for the drawing of the longitudinal section, after
reducing the fieldbook data (6.1.1.1.1 on page 3), to draw the profile for section SV 00 to SV 160.
SCALE:
HOR:- 1: ...
VERT:- 1: .

DATUM LEVEL

Stake Value
Ground Height
Formation
Height
CUT
FILL
6.1.1.1.3

Drawing of the Formation line.

Where for instance an erosion furrow was noted and recorded the engineer will take note that
this SV is most probably a low point where the natural flow of storm water can be directed to
and a culvert will have to be included in the design.
The same with dry and flowing stream or riverbeds where the SV points height is important in
the choice of a culvert or bridge in the design.
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All these information coupled with the design criteria must be taken into account by the
engineer.
Also taking into account that not all excavated material is suitable for road construction the
soil properties must also be investigated and known before the design process could be begun
with.
After all was said and done it is also very important to try as far as possible to draw the
formation line as a balance line.
The aim is to balance cut and fill volumes as far as possible so that the cut volume at one point
can form the fill volume at the next point, ensuring that excavated or required fill material does
not have to be moved over long distances, which will directly increase or cut the construction
costs of the line structure.
In calculations at this study level the formation line will always be given or specified in some form,
but this tie in with your future studies in Transportation Engineering.
6.1.1.2 Determination of Cross-sections
In the planning of excavations for pipelines it is sufficient to work only in the longitudinal section, but
with roads and highways which could be up to 60 plus meters wide it is necessary to determine the
profile at a rectangle to the centreline on both sides of the centre line to be able to calculate the
volumes of material to be handled more accurately. This mini length sections are called cross-sections.
It is therefore necessary to observe Cross-sections at every continuous 20 meter SV point.
On this cross sectional line heights must be read at intervals to be able to draw a representation of
the profile of the natural ground.
It is therefore necessary to determine heights where any manmade or natural features intercept the
cross sectional line.
Manmade features to be registered and levelled are features such as tops and bottoms of
embankments, canals as well as where other existing or planned roads, power- and telephone lines
intercept the cross sectional line.
Natural features to be registered and levelled are at every slope change, ditches, erosion furrows,
dry river beds, streams and rivers.
It is compulsory that longitudinal sections must be check levelled.
Cross sections do not have to be check levelled because they are at most only used for volume
calculations. The construction machinery used cannot work to even the nearest 5 millimetre
accuracy and the volumes calculated are at best only a guide in budgeting and safety factors are
used in any case. The accuracy requirements for cross sections are therefore not so high.
To save time when cross sections are levelled you may try to read as many readings for one or even more
cross sections from one setup, if the slope and obstructions on the terrain permits. There are thus no limits
on the number of intermediate sights you are permitted to read and in most cases they are only read to two
decimal places or at most to the nearest 5 millimetres. Sight distances may however not exceed 30 metres.

JN WIESNER & JIP BISSCHOFF

2014

SURVEYING 3B
2015
Intermediate sights
Backsight

SV 00

FORESIGHT

1st setup position

SV 20

SV 60

SV 40

SV 80

2nd Setup

If one observes cross sections in this fashion you must really concentrate not to bump the
instrument or make mistakes in booking the readings, noting the horizontal distance left or right of
the centreline as well as booking the remarks at each reading.
The first reading must be a back sight to the centreline peg at say SV 00, as shown in the sketch
above and the last reading a foresight to the centreline peg at SV 60
It is advisable to do the cross sections separately after the longitudinal section.
When you do them separately each cross section must be booked individually separate and each
one must start with a back sight to the centreline peg of that cross section.
With all the walking around the instrument from the same setup it is highly possible that you may
unintentionally bump the instrument or kick a leg or step too close to a foot of the tripod leg.
It is therefore advisable to read and compare the centreline peg again at the end of a cross section
or at least do it occasionally as a check.
6.1.1.2.1
@ SV 00
Distance
Left

Individual Cross section fieldbook and the reduction of it

[HI = GHSV00 + BSsv00] (HI = 1 432,250 + 1,715 = 1 433,965)
g

RL

Remarks

Distanc
e
Right

RL

GH from L/section
CL SV 0 1,715
1 432,250
9,4
1,220
1 432,745
Slope change
15,0
1.765
1 432,200
15,0
0,445
1 433,520
Slope change
Formation height SV 00 = 1 433,500
(read off from longitudinal section graph)

6.1.1.2.2

Remarks

Slope change

Drawing of the Cross-section

The horizontal and vertical scale for cross sections must be the same if the area is to be determined by
Planimeter (will be discussed later), but otherwise they may differ if need be to fit it in on any given
paper size.
The Formation height (FH) for any given cross section will be read off from the longitudinal section
graph according to the formation line drawn in or prescribed by the engineer.
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The side slopes for excavation or fill will be dictated by the type of soil or solidity of the rock at rock
faces, where blasting has to be done. Soil tests will have been done in advance that will guide the
engineer in his decisions to prescribe the side slopes for the specific material both in cut and in fill.
The side slopes will however always be given to you in any practical or calculation exercises.
Side slope can be given in the following forms, 1:1 or 1:1,5 or 1 to 2 or 1/2 where the first value is
always the vertical- and the second value the horizontal distance
1

Another way to remember it correctly is to express side slope as the Tangents of the vertical angle
1
Tan = ( 1,5 )
The ground heights (GH) on the cross sectional line where slope changes or other features occurred
will be read off from the reduced cross section fieldbook.
Every cross section drawing must be clearly named by writing the centreline SV directly below the
centre of the datum line.
The datum line is a chosen height just lower than the lowest of either the ground heights (GH) or the
formation height (FH)
The formation width (width of a road, canal bed or railway line) will be prescribed on the use and
design criteria. The formation width will always be given in any practical or calculation exercises.
Draw a horizontal line:

Long enough to be able to fit and mark off the total lengths observed left and right of the
centreline to the given horizontal scale.

Low enough to fit in the highest height difference, between the datum line level and the highest of
either the formation height (FH) or ground height (GH), according to the given vertical scale.

From the centre of the drawn horizontal line then draw a perpendicular vertical line:

Long enough to fit in the highest height difference, between the datum line level and the highest
of either the formation height (FH) or ground height (GH), according to the given vertical scale.

6.1.1.2.3

Example of a drawn cross section

From the reduced cross section fieldbook in 6.1.1.2.1 the cross section can be drawn for a road width of
15 meters with side slopes of 1: 1,5 for fill as follows:
1433,500
1433,000
1432,500
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Datum
1 432,000
15

10

SV 00

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10

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6.1.1.3 Determination of Contours
The level could be used to determine contours on small reasonably flat areas such as erven or stands in
towns and cities.
A contour is a continuous line joining all points of the same relative height with each other. No two
contours can ever cross each other
To determine contours it is important to determine heights on the area so that there is no slope change
between any given height point and the forward, backward, left or right height points, as shown below

Figure 1
Figure 2
In figure 1 there are no slope changes between height point A and the forward, backward, left or right
height points.
In figure 2 there are slope changes between height point B and the forward, backward and left hand
height points but no slope changes between height point B and the right height point. Where slope
changes occur an additional height point must be observed.
Later in the chapters on Tacheometry, topographic surveying will be discussed. Contours are used to
show height differences in the area, but then these height points will be called SPOTHEIGHTS.
In contour determination by level the area is divided in small square blocks and the height of every
corner of each block are observed. Normally we need a direction and distance to plot a point, but the
block with its subdivided smaller blocks can easily be drawn to scale to represent the area measured.
A
A
B
B
C
D
1

Drawing representing area

D
1

2
3
4
Plan of the same area drawn to scale
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The reduced heights from the fieldbook will be written in on the drawn grid or plan, to be able to
interpolate the contours. The more uneven the terrain (broken terrain) it is highly probable that slope
changes may occur between adjacent blocks corners. In such cases it is advisable to decrease the
dimensions of the blocks.
Exercise from given leveling fieldbook observations of the corner points of a grid
Reduce the following fieldbook readings at the block corners of an area of 150 meters by 150 meters.
a) Use an A4 sheet of paper to plot the block area and the sub divided blocks of 50 m x 50 m to a
scale of 1:1000 (To save time use the plan on pg 12)
b) Write the reduced heights in at the block corners (intersections of gridlines). Use a dot as
decimal, to indicate the position of the height, instead of a comma as is normally used in SA.
c) Interpolate contours at an interval of 0,25 meters
POINT
A1
A2
A3
A4
B4
B3
B2
B1
C1
C2
C3
C4
D4
D3
D2
D1

BS
+
1,76

IS

FS
-

HI

RL

Remarks

100,000
1,40
1,15
0,84
1,22
1,58
1,93
2,42
2,86
2,50
2,24
1,81
2,14
2,47
2,76

A
B
C
D
1

2,93

6.1.1.3.1 Interpolation of contours

Contours can be interpolated by different methods, but the most important point to remember is that
you may only interpolate between any two points if there is no slope change between them!
Irrespective of the method used to determine the heights the surveyor can only check for slope
changes directly in front or at his back, while he can also control what is happening directly left and
right of him. The larger the blocks the more difficult it becomes to guess where the diagonal forward,
left or right points will be or remember where the backward points were previously observed.
You may not interpolate on any line that you do not know or have checked that there are no slope
changes and therefore you may not interpolate on any diagonal line.
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It may perhaps be easier to understand if we draw a triangle. You may interpolate on the two lines
that are closest to perpendicular with each other, but not on the oblique side
In figures 3 & 4 you may interpolate on all solid lines

Not X

In figures 3 & 4 you may not interpolate on any diagonal

dotted lines.
Figure 3
In fig, 4 you may not interpolate on any dotted lines past any point.

Figure 4

As a guide to decide if you are interpolating past any point use the following rule.
When a line passes a point (height) and the perpendicular drawn from that point to the line is shorter than
any one or both of the joining lines from the point to the ends of the intended interpolation line, then you
may NOT interpolate on that line!

May not interpolate

If one looks in the nature at natural ground you will notice that in most cases there are only gradual
changes in slopes from even ground to hilly slopes and then to steeper slopes. It is therefore easy to follow
contour lines and possible mistakes in our interpolation, as they mostly tend to follow the same pattern or
form with gradual changes closer or further apart as the slope increase or decrease. If man did not
interfere with nature by constructing roads, cuttings or fills there will almost never be sudden directional
changes in contour lines and they will most certainly never cross each other.
The 1st Interpolation method is very easy but if a very good piece of elastic is nut used, where the stretch
is not evenly, the contour interpolation can be very inaccurate. Cut a straight piece of elastic long enough
that you can mark off 30 to 50 millimetre marks on it, but still an open piece on both sides so that you can
hold it while stretching not touching the marks. Elastic has a tendency to stretch unevenly, more in the
middle and less at the support points.

Elastic band with millimetre marks on it

Stretched elastic band with extended spaces between markings
Using the same the line between two points of height 99,0 and 100,5 in the sketch below, press the elastic
down with the zero mark on point 99,0 and with the other hand stretch the elastic until the 15 mark is on
the 100,5 point. Each stretched interval now representing 0,1 height difference. Use the thumb and
forefinger of your left hand to hold the elastic in that position, while you make a pencil mark on the line
against the 10th mark, where the 100 contour will go through this line. Carry on in this manner with each
line where interpolation is allowable, mark off and follow every 1 meter interval contour. Where the
height difference between points are too high for the length of elastic available just change the interval
between the un-stretched elastic band to 2, 3, 4 or even 5 to fit it in on any length of line piece.
1

1
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The 2nd Interpolation method is perhaps the easiest but depending on experience, not so accurate. The
black dot on the line between two points of height 99,0 and 100,5 is guessed by dividing the line with the
eye where the 100,0 height will be. Doing the same on all legal interpolation lines, marking the 100,0
height where it will pass between any of those points. Now join all these interpolated points free hand and
the line will represent the 100,0 contour. In the example below the same was done for the 101 contour.
99.0
100.5
100

101

100.8
101.9
NB: If one would wrongfully try to interpolate on the diagonal between heights 99,0 (top left corner) to
101,9 (bottom right corner) you can also guess the 100 and 101 contour positions, but if a slope change
may have occurred you will put in a kink in the contour that does not really exists as shown in dotted
contour line 100!
The 3rd Interpolation method is based on the drawing principle of dividing a line piece in a number of
equal parts. In interpolation we will divide the length of the line between any two heights in a number of
parts equal to the height difference divided by 10 or any convenient number to be able to find the required
height according to the specified contour interval of say 0,1 or 0,5 or 1, 2, 5 10, 25,or 50 meters, as the
case may be. If we take one of the same lines as in the sketch above where the height difference is 1,5m
At 1m contour intervals we need 0,5m divisions. 1,5 divided by o,5 = 3 and the line will be divided in
three equal parts. Draw a line at any convenient angle to the line joining the two heights. Use a compass
set at a convenient setting and mark off on the oblique line three equal parts. Now join the 3rd mark with
the end of the line and draw lines parallel to it through every marked off point. Where the second line
intercepts the main line it gives the position where the 100 contour will cross that line.
99.0

100.5

On the plan this process can easily be performed with a little practice using a scale rule and a 30 or 45
set square. Place the scale rule at an angle to a line with its zero mark, in this case, on the 99.0 position.
Now place a perpendicular side of a 30 or a 45 set square on the last mark as determined using the scale
graduations. Adjust the angle of the scale rule smaller or bigger with the aim that the line formed by the
set square will pass through the end point of the line (101.5). It will happen that with the chosen
graduation interval on the scale rule the perpendicular line from the set square will not go through the end
point for any changed angle. It means that you have to either increase or decrease the number of
graduations chosen so that it will then pass through the end point
The 4th Interpolation method Here the position where any desired contour interval intercepts any
theoretical allowable interpolation line between two heights is calculated.
The length of the line between the two heights is scaled off from the plan using a scale rule. In the
previous example used, the length of the line between two points of height 99,0 and 100,5 is 50 meters.
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The height difference is 1,5 meters and the 100 contour will cut the line 1,0 meters above 99,0 or on the
other hand 0,5 meters below 100,5
Length of line piece
Height above or below po int
Height

difference
The distance from the 99,0 height point =
50,0
1,0
Distance from the 99,0 height point = 1,5
= 33,33 meters
50,0
0,5
Distance from the 100,5 height point = 1,5
= 16,67 meters
Contour plan drawn from the reduced fieldbook example in 6.1.1.3.1 pg 9

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Contour Plan Stands 701 to 710

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Scale 1:1000

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Further exercise on contour interpolation
C
1163

13.4

11.8

10.1

12.7

12.6
14.3

12.4
13.9

14.3

14.9

1540

13.8

13.5

13.1

10.9

1157
B

12.1

9.9
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14.5

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6.1.1.3.2
(i)

Setting out of contours or points on a given height and lines at a required slope in the field

Setting out of contours

It is often necessary to determine the actual position of any given contour in the field.

The flow of water in a canal must be very slow and therefore the slope of canals is very low.
When the canal bed must be prepared for the construction of the canal it is customary to set out
the contour from the starting point for the bulldozer operators to operate on. Short wooden poles
are then hammered in at say every 20 to 30 meters on the contour height.

When topographic plans were drawn up Fotogrammetrically the contours are drawn from a
digital photo and some on site checks on the correctness and accuracy of the drawn contours
must be performed afterwards. Check lines are drawn on every plan and the 5 or 10 meter
interval contour positions physically determined in the field and then coordinated. The measured
differences between the plotted coordinate and the actual contour position on the plan is then a
measure of the accuracy of the survey.

When any height must be set out it is always easiest to use the Height of instrument reduction method to
calculate what the reading on the staff should be to set out a required height and the method will be
described by means of a drawn up fieldbook page.
Set the level up at any convenient point higher than the contour level required but close enough to a bench
mark. If no close by BM is available you will have to level from the closest one using change points
towards the area where the contour must be set out.
With the BS reading taken from the BM the Height of Instrument can be calculated (HI = RLBM79 + BS).
The reading on the staff to set out a contour = (HI required contour height)
The reading on the staff to set out contour 1480 = (HI 1 480,00)
POINT
BM 79

BS
+
3,75

IS

FS
-

HI

RL

Remarks

1 481,70

1 477,95
1 480,00

BS is the actual reading from setup near BM 79

IS = the calculated reading from formulae above

1,7
0

The staff holder is then send forward and directed up or down the slope by the surveyor until the staff
reading is 1,70 and he hammers in a wooden pole at the indicated ground point where his staff was held.
The staff holder then walks say twenty paces while trying to stay at the same height and hold the staff to
be directed up or down the slope until the staff reading is again1,70 and hammers in another peg. Carry on
in this manner until the required length of or whole contour is pegged.
(ii)

The Setting out of points on a given height is done in exactly the same manner, but it may be easier
to use the rise and fall reduction method to calculate what the reading on the staff should be at every
20 meter interval peg to set out a required slope.

(iii) Setting out of lines at a given slope is also done in exactly the same manner with the exception that
the reading will change for every 20 meters that the staff holder moves forward on the specified line.
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A downward slope of 1 in 100 means that the line must fall 1 meter vertical over every 100 meters
horizontal distance. The fall over 20 meters must therefore be calculated.
Fall over 100 meters = 1 meter
20
1
Fall over 20 meters = ( 100
) = - 0,20 meters
120
1
Total fall over 120 meters = ( 100
) = - 1,20 meters

POINT
BM 79
A
SV20
SV40
SV60
SV80
SV100
B

BS
+
3,75

IS

FS
-

1,7
0
1,9
0
2,1
0
2,3
0
2,5
0
2,7
0

Rise
+

Fall
-

RL

Remarks
BS is the actual reading from setup near BM 79

0,20

1 477,95
1
480,00
1479,80

0,20

1479,60

0,20

1479,40

0,20

1479,20

0,20

1479,00

0,20

1
478,80

2,05

2,90

+3,75
-2,90 +2,05 -1,20
-2,90
-1,20
+0,85
+0,85
Check: RLA RLB = Total fall over 120 meters
1

IS = the calculated reading

RL = Calculated from fall per 20 meters

+0,85

6.2 Determination and Calculation of Areas and Volumes

Throughout the starting, planning and execution phases of any civil engineering project the determination
and calculation areas and volumes of different materials are very important.
At first the engineer needs to know the nature (topography) of the ground in the proposed area.
Drawn longitudinal and cross sections along identified centre lines drawn in on the topographic
plan for proposed line structures will help the engineer and guide him through the design phase.
Different formation lines can be drawn on a trial an error basis, areas and volumes calculated to be
compared, serving as help or guidance in financial planning, budgeting and decision making.
During this trial and error phase the engineer will be able to observe depth of cuttings and fills and
bring in environmentalists or make decisions based on environmental prescriptions or guidelines.
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In some cases new or different routes, with more or less curves and steeper or more gradual slopes
may be considered or investigated, dependant on the design criteria and road use requirements.
Further soil tests may be required than the existing or in different places. The positions will have
to be fixed and new heights determined to couple it to existing knowledge for area and volume
calculations.
Throughout the construction phase actual volumes of material cut and or filled are constantly
monitored to be able to adjust budgets if and when needed.
Volumes of stockpiled or available borrow pit material saved for or necessary at later stages is
monitored on a monthly basis, so that the engineer will not be caught off guard.
All material excavated on site is not always suitable to use as filling material in road construction
and even the most extensive spot soil testing will not always point out all the potential un-usable
material. It is always cheaper to spoil this material on the sides of fillings, making the surface
wider than to buy spill area from ground owners, but it is also not always possible. The volumes of
spill material must therefore also constantly be measured and calculated as a cost factor for the
project.
6.2.1 Calculation of Areas curvilinear figures
Rivers, streams or mountain ranges are often chosen as boundaries of provinces, larger plots or farms.
Contour areas need to be determined or calculated to determine the volume water that a proposed or
existing dam will hold as well as in the determination of the catchment area for large dams the contour
break line from where rain and other water will flow in a different direction.
All of these form irregular or curvilinear boundaries. It is easy to set out a square or rectangle inside or
around the figure and calculate the area thereof. It is then only necessary to determine and calculate the
excess area to be added to the curvilinear boundary or subtract it.
Rectangle around the figure

Rectangle inside the figure

Figure 5
The line set out just short off or past the curvilinear boundary shown in figure 5 can now serve as a
baseline from where perpendicular offsets (h1 to hn) can be measured at constant intervals (b) to the
boundary line as shown in figure 6

h1

h2

h3

h4

h5
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h6

h7

h8

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b

Figure 6

It can be seen clearly in figure 6 that if the ends of every consecutive offset are joined to the next there
will always some extra areas added or thrown away, but this can be limited by making b shorter.
Two methods are generally used to calculate the area of the curvilinear boundary namely the Trapezoidal
method and Simpsons rule. The Planimeter is a mechanical instrument that is extensively used to
determine the areas of plotted contours.
6.2.1.1 Trapezoidal method
With the ends of the offsets in figure 6 joined by straight lines, shown as dotted lines, a series of
trapezoids are formed. The offsets form the base and top of each trapezium and the common distance b
the vertical distance between them.
b h2 h3
b h1 h2
2
2
The area of the first trapezoid =
and the area of the second trapezoid =
When the sum of all the areas of the individual trapezoids is calculated it will give the total area A in a
simplified combined formula where n is the total number of offsets:
(h hn )

b 1
h2 h3 h4 hn 1
2

A=
6.2.1.2 Simpsons rule
Simpsons rule can also be applied to the curvilinear boundary shown in figure 6, but the formulae can
only be applied for an uneven number of offsets. If an even number offsets was measured the formulae
will only apply to the second last offset and the extra area must be added as a trapezoid.
The reason why it is only applicable to an uneven number of offsets is because Simpson assumed in his
deduction of the formulae that the curve drawn trough the ends of every three offsets is a parabola. He
assumed that the parabola will more accurately represent the boundary line than a straight line through the
ends of every two offsets. The area calculated will be more accurate because less small areas will be
added or thrown away!
h1

h2

h3

b
Simpsons rule can be expressed in words as follows:
Total area A = One third of the common interval between the offsets, multiplied with the [(the sum of the
first and last offset distances) plus two times the sum of all the other, uneven numbered, offset distances
plus four times the sum of all the even numbered offset distances)].
If n is equal to an uneven number of offsets, then:
b
(h1 hn ) 2(h3 h5 h( n 2 ) ) 4(h2 h4 h( n 1) )
A= 3
6.2.1.3 The Planimeter
The Planimeter is an instrument which can directly determine the area of any plotted, closed figure by
following the circumference of the figure with the following point of the Planimeter and read off the
resultant area from a drum scale

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Anchor point
Contour
Roller mechanism with
graduated scale on a drum
SCALE: 1in 1000
Figure 7
The pole type Planimeter has an anchor point, a follow point and a roller mechanism with a graduated
scale on a drum. The anchor arm is attached to the roller mechanism so that the instrument can swivel as
the follow point is moved around the plotted figure.
There are two different Planimeter models available.
In the first one the follow arm is of a fixed length so that areas can only be read off in one unit and
will have to be multiplied with a scale factor to get the actual area.
In the second model the follow arm can be adjusted longer or shorter to change the scale according
to the scale of the plan and areas can therefore be read of directly and no multiplying scale factor
needed.
In use the anchor point will be placed in a suitable position outside of the figure on the plan so that the
follow point can be moved from any starting point on the figure all round it in a smooth movement,
without the roller mechanism getting stuck or getting in almost a straight line.
With the follow point on the contour at a begin point the reading is taken and noted as the 1 st
The follow point is then moved carefully clockwise, with a steady hand around the contour line.
Take care not to move in- or outwards of the perimeter as that will add on or subtract from the total
area. When the begin point is reached take the reading and note it down as the 2nd reading.
Continue following the contour line another two times and note the 3 rd and 4th readings. This is
necessary because the difference between the first two readings is only an indication of the total
area of the plotted figure. The further readings will confirm and check the results, taken with a
Planimeter where the follow arm is of a fixed length, as shown below:
1st reading = 10,45
2nd reading = 16,46
3rd reading = 21,46
nd
rd
2 reading = 16,46
3 reading = 21,46
4th reading = 26,46
5, 01
5,00
5,00
If the follow point is moved clockwise the readings will increase and the closer you can follow
exactly on the line the closer the three differences will be to each other. If the results compare well
as in this case the best mean value will be taken, say 5,00.
This value is not the area yet as it must be multiplied by a scale factor calculates as follows:
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The plan in figure 7 was drawn to a scale of 1 in 1000

A block of 10mm x 10 mm = 10m x 10m

= 100 m2
If the circumference of this block is followed twice with this same Planimeter and the mean difference in
readings is say 0,200 then: The scale factor = 100 / 0,200
The scale factor = 500
Area of contour = mean reading x Scale Factor
Area of contour = 5,00 x 500
Area of contour = 2500 m2
The accuracy that could be achieved with a Planimeter is good enough to determine the areas of
catchment areas, contour areas for volumes of large dams or stockpile dumping sites and cross
section areas for the calculation of volumes of earthworks for line structures.
6.2.1.4 Calculation of Areas of cross-sections and other of regular figures from co-ordinates
The cross section must be turned from the vertical plane to a horizontal plane to be able to calculate
coordinates on a local grid system
In cross sectional area calculation the following steps can be followed:
2

Datum 100,0
15 12,5 10
5 SV 60
5
10 13,5 15
For convenience turn the coordinate system through 180 so that the 1st quadrant is in the top right
hand corner.
+X 0
+, +

+Y
90

Choose the most left hand point A and draw a Y- ordinate through it, while the X-ordinate is at
the datum level. Write the points and coordinates in clockwise order below each other.
Tabulated Coordinates
A
+ YA
+ XA
B

+ YB

+ XB

+ YC

+ XC

+ YD

+ XD

+ YE

+ XE

+ YF

+ XF
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G

+ YG

+ XG

+ YH

+ XH

J
+ YJ
+ XJ
A
+ YA
+ XA
Following the full line arrows you multiply, from left to right, every Y ordinate with the next X ordinate
and get the sum of all the products. Then following the dotted line arrows multiply, from right to left, each
X ordinate with the next Y ordinate and get the sum of all the products.
If:
(Sum of products left to right) = Sum A and
(Sum of products right to left) = Sum B
Sum A = [(YAXB) + (YBXC) + (YCXD) + (YDXE) + (YEXF) + (YFXG) + (YGXH) + (YHXJ) + (YJXA)]
Sum B = [(XAYB) + (XBYC) + (XCYD) + (XDYE) + (XEYF) + (XFYG) + (XGYH) + (XHYJ) = (XJYA)]
Then 2 x Area = (Sum A Sum B)

(Sum A - Sum B)

A=

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m2

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6.2.1.5 Example using a reduced cross section to draw it and calculate the area by coordinates
@ SV 60
[HI = GH sv60 + BSsv60] (HI = 105,440 + 1,715 = 107,155)
Distance
Left

g

RL

Remarks

Distanc
e
Right

RL

Remarks

GH from L/section
CLSV 60 (D) 1,715
105,440
5,0 C
1,220
105,935
Slope change
5,0 (E) 1.765
105,390
10,0 (B)
0,900
106,255
Slope change
10,0 (F) 1,595
105,560
15,0
0,445
106,71
Slope change
15,0
1,235
105,920
Formation height SV 60 = 102,500
(read off from longitudinal section graph)
The drawn cross section for a road width of 15 meters with side slopes of 1: 1,5 for Cut
107,000

Slope change
Slope change
Slope change

A=106,600

106,500

106,000

G = 105,833

C
F

105,500

105,000
104,500

SCALE:

104,000

Hor: 1 in 250

103,500

Vert: 1 in 50

103,000
Datum
102,500

13,6

15
Coordinate list:
Y
A
+ 0,0
B
+ 3,6
C
+ 8,6
D
+13,6
E
+ 18,6
F
+ 23,6
G
+ 26,1
H
+ 21,1
J
+ 6,1
A
+ 0,0

J
10

X
+ 6,600
+ 6,255
+ 5,935
+ 5,440
+ 5,390
+ 5,560
+ 5,833
+ 2,500
+ 2,500
+ 6,600

H
5

SV 60
5
10
Figure 8
(Each Y x Next X)
0,0 x 6,255 = 0
(13,6 10)
3,6 x 5,935 = 21,366
(13,6 5)
8,6 x 5,440 = 46,784
13,6 x 5,390 = 73,304
(13,6 + 5)
18,6 x 5,560 = 103,416
(13,6 + 10)
23,6 x 5,833 = 137,659
(13,6 12,5) 26,1 x 2,500 = 65,250
(13,6 + 7,5) 21,1 x 2,500 = 52,750
(13,6 7,5)
6,1 x 6,600 = 40,260
Sum A = 540,789
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12,5
15
(Each X x Next Y)
6,600 x 3,6 = 23,760
6,255 x 8,6 = 53,793
5,935 x 13,6 = 80,716
5,440 x 18,6 = 101,184
5,390 x 23,6 = 127,204
5,560 x 26,1 = 145,116
5,833 x 21,1 = 123,076
2,500 x 6,1 = 15,250
2,500 x 0,0 =
0
Sum B = 670,099

SURVEYING 3B
2015
(Sum A - Sum B)
2
Area =
m2

[ ] is absolute value ignore sign

Area = 64,655 m2
6.2.2

Calculation of volumes

If we consider that there is no cross fall over the width of a narrow road the cross sectional area with side
slopes will be in the form of a trapezium. The cross sections at every 20 m (h) continuous interval will
therefore form a series of trapezoids.
w2

w w1

h1
2

A1 =
w w2

h2
2
A2 =

wm
A2

h2

Am

A1

hm

The mid area can be calculated in two manners

A1 A2
2
(i) Mean area =
(ii) Am can be calculated from the mean measurements of
w1 w2
2
the two end areas, where wm =
and
h1 h2
2
hm =

h1

w
w1

w wm

hm
2

Am =

Figure 9
Area of trapezium = Sum of the parallel
sides x perpendicular height
6.2.2.1 Mean end area method

The volume of a single trapezoid between A1 and A2 that is h meters apart can be calculated by means of
A1 A2

the Mean End Area method. V =

Where there is a long section in cut and or fill there will be a series of these trapezoidal volumes, V1, V2,
A2 A3
An 1 An
A1 A2

2
2
2

V , + .., where V =
and V =
up to V =
3

In summing these individual volumes it is clear that there is a common factor h in all of the formulae,
all the mid areas from A2 to An will be doubled where the first and last area only came forward once each.
A1 2 A2 2 A3 2 An 1 An

Total volume =
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The combined Mean end area method formulae will therefore be:

A1 An

A2 A3 A4 An 1

Total volume =
If one looks closely you will notice that the combined Mean End Area Rule looks exactly the same as the
trapezoidal formulae for area calculation, with just different symbols used. As in the case with the
trapezoidal formulae for area calculation, where the ends of the off sets are joined with straight lines
cutting off or adding areas, the same inaccuracy occurs here where the tops of excavations and or fills are
joined with flat surfaces. This will add on or cut off volumes.
6.2.2.2 Prismoidal rule
When the natural ground area, where excavations are to be performed, is such that the two end areas differ
a lot, or when a high degree of accuracy is required, the Mean End Area Rule is not accurate enough. In
this case the volume will be calculated as prismoids.
A prismoid can be defined as a solid body with basiss that are parallel planes and with sides that are flat
planes. The volume is given by the equation:

A1 4 Am A2
From figure 9 page 22
V= 6
Where:
A1 and A2 + The end areas calculated from the actual measurements.
Am = The area of a mid section calculated from the mean values of the two end area measurements.
{As shown in 6.2.2 (ii)} p22.
The Prismoidal rule is however to a very large extend only theoretical because it is very seldom that in
nature you will find an area over some distance where there is no cross fall present. Cross sections will
rather look like as in figure 8 pg 21 with the top surface at a cross slope and curvilinear. The dimensions
w1 and w2 are not applicable and wm cannot be calculated. You will therefore only be confronted with
theoretical problems to apply the Prismoidal rule.
6.2.2.3 Prismoidal formulae
If the body in excavation and or fill complies reasonably well with a prismoid we can however consider
every second cross sectional area as the mean area Am. It is however very important to check if every
second cross sectional area is in fact more or less the mean of the two end areas, before you may apply the
combined Prismoidal rule as the Prismoidal formulae.
Prismoidal Formulae may be used
A1

A2

A3

A4

A5

Prismoidal Formulae may not be used

A6

A7

A1

A2

A3

A4

A5

A6

A7

Figure 10

Figure 11

In figure 10 you will see that A1 is close to the mean area between A0 and A2, so is A3 between A2
and A4 etc. the Prismoidal Formulae may therefore be used
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In figure 11 it is definitely not the case and the Prismoidal Formulae may not be used!
If the figure complies and there are an uneven number of cross sections, then the Prismoidal
Formulae may be used. (Note that the Prismoidal Formulae looks similar to Simpsons Rule)
2
2
A1 4 A2 A3
A3 4 A4 A5
V1 = 6
V2 = 6

Total Volume = V1 + V2 + V3 + .+.Vn where 2/6 =/3

A1 An 2 A3 A5 An2 4 A2 A4 An 1
Total Volume = 3

Where:

= distance between cross sections, thus distance between end sections (A1 & A3) is 2
A = The areas of the individual cross sections
n = the number of cross sections and must always be an uneven number2
6.3 Advanced problem exercises
(a) A Dumpy level must be checked and adjusted before it is used on a project.
(i) State and discuss briefly which checks and adjustment you would do?
(10)
(ii) In your viewpoint which mal adjustment in the Dumpy level is the most important to give first
(4)
(b) A Tilting level must be checked and adjusted before it is used on a project.
(i) State and discuss briefly which checks and adjustment you would do?
(6)
(ii) In your viewpoint which mal adjustment in the Tilting level is the most important to give first
(4)
(c) An Auto level must be checked and adjusted before it is used on a project.
(i) State and discuss briefly which checks and adjustment you would do?
(6)
(ii) In your viewpoint which mal adjustment in the Auto level is the most important to give first
(4)
(d) Briefly discuss the terms Checks and Control in leveling work, giving examples and or
explanations of each where applicable. Your discussion must clearly show that you understand
the terms and their differences.
(6)
6.3.1 Setting out of points on given heights
6.3.1.1 Rewrite the following observations in the form of a leveling fieldbook and reduce them by the
Rise and Fall method. The heights of A = 100,000 and K = 101,860
Instrument position
1
A 3,905
B 0,447
2
B 2,321
C 1,113
D 1,217
E 2,436
3
E 0,409
F 2,473
G 2,521
4
G 1,571
H 1,320
K 0,946

2
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6.3.1.2 (a) Reduce the following leveling fieldbook by the Height of Instrument method.
BS
IS
+
A 3,932
B
2,764
C 2,746
D 2,671
E
+2,362
F
3,461
G

(b)
(c)

FS
-

HI

RL

Corr.

height

FINAL
Height
1 342,646

1,019
3,189

(13)
Remarks

Under bridge
Inverted under bridge

1,869

1 345,915

What is the free height (clearance) under the bridge?

(1)
If a point P with elevation 1 346,000 must be placed from the second instrument position, what
should the staff reading to it be? Write your answer in the fieldbook form below.
(2)
BS
+

IS

FS
-

HI

RL

Corr.

height

FINAL
Height

Remarks

6.3.1.3 (a)
Rewrite the following observations in the form of a leveling fieldbook and reduce them by
using a method that ensures that all the arrhythmic work is fully checked!
(13)
Instrument position
1
A 3,571
B 0,563
2
B 2,019
C 0,968
D 1,059
E 2,119
3
E 0,356
F 2,152
G 2,193
4
G 1,367
H 1,148
K 0,823
The heights of A = 100,000 and K = 101,619
(b) If a point P, with elevation 103,500, must be placed from the second instrument position,
what should the staff reading to it be? Write your answer fieldbook form.
(2)

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6.3.1.4
a)
Point
BM2
7

Beam
1
Beam
2

BM3
0

The following line of levels was taken to determine the difference in elevation between the
lower side of a concrete beam, supporting a bridge deck, and the road surface directly below it.
Reduce the following levelling fieldbook by means of the Rise and Fall method.
(13)
BS
IS
FS
Rise Fall
RL
Final
Remarks
+
height
1,47
117,19
117,193 117,193
IPC
1
3
0,48
2,00
6
7
1,66
3,14
3
9
2,01
1,88
4
6
1,11
1,62
5
7
Underside of
+2,86
beam
3
Underside
of
+2,87
beam
8
3,187
Under bridge
1,61
113,649
IPC
9

b) What is the mean clearance under the bridge?

(2)
6.3.1.4 a)
Reduce the following levelling fieldbook by means of the Rise and Fall method. Show all
the arrhythmic checks and adjust the miss closure to find adjusted heights.
(13)
Poin BS
IS
FS
Final
Remarks
t
+
height
A
1,96
141,29
IPC
0,54
2,62
1,07
3,95
3,42
3,42
3,42
1,08
2,51
3,62
2,91
B
1,47
137,45
IPC

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b)

6.3.2

In doing the leveling, while the instrument is still standing at the second setup position, a point Q
with elevation 137,20 must be placed. What will the reading on the staff be to place this peg?
Write your answer in the fieldbook form below.
(2)
BS
IS
FS
HI
RL
Remarks
+
height
Height

Setting out of contours and lines at a given slope

6.3.2.1 (a) Reduce the levelling fieldbook, FULLY CHECKED by means of the Height of Instrument
method.
(15)

BS
+
2,271

0,874

IS

FS
-

HI

RL

Corr.

height

FINAL
Height
100,000

Remarks

1,413
0,475
1,890
2,572
3,291
C

3,196

3,237
1,319

0,347

102,300

(b) Describe step by step how you would set out the 101,00 contour in the field while the instrument
was still setup at the 3rd setup position. Your discussion must also show how to calculate the staff
reading to set out pegs at every 25 meters interval on the contour.
(4)
(c) Describe step by step how you would set out a sewer line in the field while the instrument was still
setup at the 2nd setup position. The sewer line SR will start from a point S about 27 meters away
from B in a straight line 140 meters long, sloping downward from S to R. The starting height at
S is 102,00. The sewer line pegs must be placed at 20 meters interval at a slope of 1in 1000.
Your discussion must show how to calculate every staff reading to set out the 20 meters interval
pegs at the given slope.
(10
6.3.3 Leveling for excavations and filling
7.3.3.1 The following line of levels was run to determine the depth of excavation for a pipeline. The
pipeline will start at A and will descent at a rate of 1 in 120 in the direction of D.
The lengths AB = BC = CD = 20 meters. The elevation of the starting point A = 1 450,00 and the
closing point M of the level line is 1 451,21 meters.
(i) Reduce the level line up to adjusted elevations of all the points, FULLY CHECKED. (10)
(ii) On the same extended fieldbook page calculate, FULLY CHECKED, Formation heights (FH)
and depth of excavation at B, C and D.
(5)
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A
B
C
D

BS
+
3,25

IS

FS
-

HI

RL

Corr.

height
1450,00

FH

Cut

Fill

1,53
1,26

1,85
1,60

1,40

2,01
0,85

1451,21

Calculations

Checks

7.3.3.2 (a) An Auto level is to be adjusted so that the collimation line is parallel to the bubble tube axis.
Very briefly state what test will be performed and then describe point wise only how the
adjustment must be done. Use demonstrative figures to help in the description.
(5)
(b) The following line of levels was run to determine the depth of excavation for a sewer
pipeline. The pipeline will start at A and will then have a downward fall of 1 in 140 in the
direction of D.
The lengths AB = BC = CD = 20 meters. The elevation of the starting point A = 1 425,00 and
the closing point M of the level line is 1 426,21 meters.
(i) Reduce the level line up to adjusted elevations of all the points, FULLY CHECKED. (10)
(ii) On the same extended fieldbook page calculate, FULLY CHECKED, Formation heights (FH)
and depth of excavation at B, C and D.
(5)
BS
+

IS

FS
-

Rise

Fall

RL
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Corr.

d

FH

Cut

Fill

SURVEYING 3B
2015
A
B
C
D

height
1 425,00

3,25
2,53
1,26

1,85
0,60

1,40

2,01
0,85

1 426,21

Calculations

7.3.3.3
(a)

Checks

Reduce the following levelling fieldbook by means of the Rise and Fall method. Show all the
arrhythmic checks and adjust the miss closure to find adjusted heights.
(15)

Point

BS
+

SV00
SV 20
SV 40
SV 60
SV 80
SV 100

3,51

IS

d
Height

FS
-

1 250,00
1,69
0,47

1,62
0,98

0,47
2,66
1,74
31

JN WIESNER & JIP BISSCHOFF

2014

FH

Cut

Fill

SURVEYING 3B
2015
SV 120
SV 140
SV 160
BM3

(b)

1,87
3,11
3,90

0,70
1,20
1,64

1 256,45

The figures in the total left column are the stake values (SV) of a proposed line structure.
A formation line with an upward slope of 2,5% is planned, starting on height 1 250,00 from SV 00
in the direction of SV 160. Calculate the depth of cut or fill at each SV point
(15)
Calculations

6.3.4

Checks

Leveling for Longitudinal and Cross-sections, cut, fill, areas and volumes.

6.3.4.1

(a) Reduce the following levelling fieldbook by means of the Rise and Fall method. Show all
the arrhythmic checks and adjust the miss closure to find adjusted heights. The figures in the
total left column are the stake values (SV) of a proposed line structure. (15)

Point

BS
+

SV00
SV 20
SV 40
SV 60
SV 80

3,91

IS

d
Height

FS
-

1 190,00
2,09
0,87

1,12
0,48

0,87
2,16
32

JN WIESNER & JIP BISSCHOFF

2014

FH

Cut

Fill

SURVEYING 3B
2015
SV 100
SV 120
SV 140
SV 160
BM3

1,24
1,37
2,61
3,40

0,20
0,70
1,15

1 196,44

(b)

A formation line with an upward slope of 2,5% is planned, starting on height 1 190,00 from SV 00
in the direction of SV 160. Calculate the depth of cut or fill at each SV point
(11)

(c)

Assume that the ground surface is level in a direction at right angles to the formation line at each SV
point. The width of the excavation is 10 meters and the side slopes are 2 to 1.
(i) Calculate the cut areas of every cross section from SV 00 to SV 80.
(8)
(ii)

Calculate the volume of the excavation from SV 00 to SV 80 by the End Area Rule.

(iii) Calculate the volume of the excavation from SV 00 to SV 80 by the Prismoidal rule.

(3)
(10)

(iv) Calculate the volume of the excavation from SV 00 to SV 80 by the Prismoidal formulae. (5)
6.3.4.2 (a) Reduce the given leveling observations to obtain Final Heights for B, C and D. The final height
of E is known to be 1 206,62. All calculations must be fully checked
(10)
Point

BS
+

A
B
C
D
E
D
C
B
A

3,29

IS

d
Height

FS
-

FINAL
HEIGH
T

1,57
3,02
2,96
0,47
1,16

0,77
1,08
0,78
2,65

1 206,62

3,09
1,95

3,91
3,64

(b) Assume that the points A to E in (a) are 20 meters apart. Choose horizontal and vertical scales that
will optimally use an A4 sheet of paper, allowing for all columns and tables that are used in the
drawing of a longitudinal section.
(3)
(i)

(3)

(ii)

(1)

33

JN WIESNER & JIP BISSCHOFF

2014

SURVEYING 3B
2015
(iii) Calculate the Formation Level (FL), Cut or Fill at every point and write the data in the table of
columns and rows as they usually appear below the longitudinal section graph.
(5)

34

2014