Dictionary


ABANDONMENT OF EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- 
Non-use does not constitute abandonment, so the acts claimed to constitute abandonment must be decisive and conclusive to indicate a clear intent to abandon.

ABSTRACT OF TITLE – (SURVEY)- A condensed history of the title to land, consisting of a synopsis or summary of the material.

ABUT – (SURVEY)- To reach; to touch. In old law, the ends were said to abut, the sides to adjoin. The term “abutting” implies a closer proximity than the term “adjacent.”

ACCESS – (SURVEY)- The right to enter and leave over the lands of another.

ACCRETION – (SURVEY)- It is the gradual and imperceptible addition of soil or other material by the natural processes of water-borne sedimentation.

ACCURACY– (SURVEY)- Accuracy relates to the quality of a result, and is distinguished from precision which relates to the quality of the operation by which the result is obtained. The degree of perfection obtained in measurements.

ACCURACY RATIO- (SURVEY)- The ratio of error of closure to the distance measured for one or a series of measurements.

ACEQUIA – (SURVEY)- A ditch through which water, diverted from its natural course, is conducted for use in irrigation.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT – (SURVEY)- In regard to a legal instrument or document, formal declaration before an authorized official such as a Notary Public, by the person who executed the instrument, that it is his free act and deed.

ACQUIESCENCE – (SURVEY)- Some act of concurrence by the adjoining owners bearing on the practical location of their common boundary where the definite or more accurate position of the line or lines has not or cannot be defined by survey.

ACRE – (SURVEY)- A unit of area measurement. An acre equals 10 square chains or 43,560 square feet. 640 acres equal 1 square mile.

ACRE FOOT- (WATER RIGHTS)- Volume of water required to cover 1 acre of land (43,560 square feet) to a depth of 1 foot, equivalent to 325,851 gallons.

ACTUAL CASH VALUE - (FEMA-NFIP) - The replacement cost for a building, minus a depreciation percentage based on age and condition.

ADD TAPE - (SURVEY)- A survey tape on which minor graduations are placed ahead of the zero point.

ADIT- (MINE)- a horizontal entry into a mine with one opening to the surface, commonly and erroneously called a tunnel.

ADJACENT – (SURVEY)- Lying near or close to; sometimes contiguous; neighboring. The term “adjacent” implies that the two objects or parcels of land are not widely separated, though they may not actually touch, while “adjoining” implies that they are so joined or united to each other that no third object or parcel of land intervenes.

ADJOINER – (SURVEY)- An owner of land which touches the land of another, his name being given in the deed or instrument by which the land is conveyed.

ADJOINING – (SURVEY)- Touching or contiguous, as distinguished from lying near to or adjacent.

ADJUDICATION – (SURVEY)- The pronouncing of a judgment or decree in a cause; also the judgment given.

ADJUSTMENT OF DATA- (SURVEY)- A process used to remove inconsistencies in measured data. It provides a method to compensate for random errors which occur in all measurements.

ADJUSTMENT OF INSTRUMENTS- (SURVEY)- The method of bringing the principle lines of an instrument into their true designed geometric relationships.

ADVERSE POSSESSION – (SURVEY)- The possession of land, under such circumstances as indicate that such possession has been commenced and continued under an assertion of rights on the part of the possessor against the original owners. To be “adverse,” possession must be “actual, continued, visible, notorious, distinct and hostile.”

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH - (MAPPING)- A photograph of a part of the earth’s surface taken by an aircraft supported camera.

AFFIDAVIT – (SURVEY)- A written or printed declaration or statement of facts made voluntarily, and confirmed by oath, without notice to the adverse party and without opportunity to cross-examine.

AGREEMENT LINE – (SURVEY)- A concurrence between adjoining land owners on the location of their common boundaries. The effect on the location is subject to judicial review.

ALIAS- (GIS and CAD) An additional name for a field.

ALIDADE- (SURVEY)- That part of a transit or theodolite that contains the telescope and plate levels.

ALIENATION– (SURVEY)- A legal term applied to the process of transfer of title, or a legal conveyance of property to another.

ALINEMENT– (SURVEY)- In railway or highway surveying: The ground plan, showing the alinement or direction, and components of the centerline, as distinguished from a profile, which shows the vertical element.

ALIQUOT – (PLSS)- Contained an exact number of times in another; a part of a measurement that divides the measurement without a remainder.

ALIQUOT PARTS – (PLSS)- Legal subdivisions, except fractional lots, or further subdivision of any smaller legal subdivision.

ALIUNDE – (SURVEY)- From another source. Evidence aliunde is evidence from outside or from another source.

ALLUVION (alluvium) – (LEGAL)- The soil that is deposited along a river or the sea by gradual and imperceptible action of the water.

ALMANAC- (GPS)- A data file containing a summary of GPS satellite orbits.

ALTA/ACSM- (Survey)- is a form of a Boundary Survey.


ADMENDMENT - (FEMA-NFIP) - A change to a FEMA floodplain map that removes an area that was inadvertently included in the Special Flood Hazard Area.


ANALYTICAL AEROTRIANGULATION - (MAPPING)- A process of interior and absolute orientation of aerial photographs obtained by computational methods from plate coordinates and mathematical analysis.

ANGLE POINT – (SURVEY)- A point in a survey where the alinement or boundary deflects from a straight line.


ANTENNA- (GPS)- A resonant device that collects and amplifies a satellite's signals.


ANTISPOOFING (AS)- (GPS)- The encryption of the P code to render spoofing ineffective.

APEX – (MINE)- In mining, the outcrop of a vein or the highest portion of a fold in a vein.


APPARENT HORIZON - (SURVEY)- The visible junction of earth and sky viewed from a specific point.


APPROPRIATION- (WATER RIGHTS)- The right to take water from a natural stream or aquifer for beneficial use at a specified rate of flow, either for immediate use or to store for later use. Usually confirmed by a water court decree. (See also Prior Appropriation, Riparian Rights and Water Right.)

APPROVED MINERAL SURVEY – (MINE)- The approval of a mineral survey at the State level is final. No Washington Office acceptance is required as in the case of public land subdivisional surveys.

APPURTENANCE – (SURVEY)- Anything so annexed to the land or used with it that it will pass with the conveyance of the land.


APPURTENANT EASEMENT- (SURVEY)- If the easement was created for the purpose of benefiting other land owned by the holder of the easement. Appurtenant easements run with the land and are a part of a conveyance of land, whether mentioned in the conveyance or not.


AQUIFER - (WATER RIGHTS)- A geologic formation, group of formations, or part of a formation that contains sufficient saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs.


ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY- (SURVEY)- Is a specific survey in conjunction with archaeologists to search for archaeological sites or to collect measurements about the location, distribution and organization of an existing site.

ARBITRATOR – (SURVEY)- A private, disinterested person chosen by the parties to a disputed question for the purpose of hearing their contention and giving judgment between them. The parties to the dispute submit themselves to the arbitrator’s decision (award).


AS-BUILTS- (SURVEY)- Measurements and drawings made after a construction project is complete. They provide the actual positions and features of the project.


ASSAY- (MINE)- a test to determine the quantity of mineral in a given sample.


ASSUMED ELEVATION - (SURVEY)- An arbitrary value assigned to a bench mark to which other work is referenced.

ASTRONOMIC – Of or pertaining to astronomy.

ASTRONOMIC AZIMUTH – (SURVEY)- Astronomic azimuth is the terrestrial azimuth which results directly from observations on a celestial body. It is affected by the local deflection of the vertical which, in the United States, produces differences between astronomic and geodetic azimuths of as much as 26”.


ATMOSPHERIC REFRACTION - (SURVEY)- The bending of the path of light rays as they pass through air of varying density.


ATOMIC CLOCK- (GPS) A clock regulated by the resonance frequency of atoms or molecules. Within GPS satellites the elements used include cesium, hydrogen and rubidium.

ATTEST – (LEGAL)- To affirm to be true or genuine.


ATTRIBUTE- (GIS,CAD) A characteristic of a map feature.


AUTOMATIC LEVEL - (SURVEY)- A leveling instrument in which the line of sight is automatically maintained horizontal by means of a built-in compensator acting through the force of gravity.

AUXILIARY GUIDE MERIDIAN – (PLSS)- Where guide meridians have been placed at intervals exceeding the distance of 24 miles.

AUXILIARY MEANDER CORNER – (PLSS)- An auxiliary meander corner is established at a suitable point on the meander line of a lake lying entirely within a quarter section or on the meander line of an island falling entirely within a section and which is found to be too small to subdivide. A line is run connecting the monument to a regular corner on the section boundary.


AVAILABILITY- (GPS)- The period of time when positioning from a particular satellite pattern is likely to be successful.


AVULSION – (LEGAL)- A river’s sudden change in flow alignment out from its previous left and right banks to a new channel, leaving an identifiable upland area between the abandoned channel and the new channel.


AXIS- (SURVEY)- A reference line about which a body rotates. It can also be a reference line for coordinates.

AZIMUTH – (SURVEY)- The horizontal direction reckoned clockwise from the meridian plane.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.





B-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions

Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

BLM – Bureau of Land Management.

BM – (SURVEY)- Bench Mark.

BACK- (MINE)- the roof of a horizontal opening such as an adit, drift or crosscut.


BACK BEARING – (SURVEY)- The bearing at the opposite end of a line from the observer as measured from the true meridian at the opposite end of the line. The back bearing on all lines (other than North-South lines) are different from the bearing at the observer’s station. They differ by the amount of convergency of the meridians between the two points.

BACKSIGHT – (SURVEY)- A sight on a previously established survey point.


BALANCING A SURVEY - (SURVEY)- Distributing corrections through a traverse to eliminate the errors of closure according to some approved method so that the resulting survey figure will be geometrically and mathematically consistent.


BALANCING SUBGRADE- (CONSTRUCTION)- Trimming subgrade to the point where there are several areas that are still too high or low, but which, when fine trimmed, will average close to the finished subgrade tolerance.


BANDWIDTH- (GPS)- A range of frequencies.

BARK SCRIBE – (SURVEY)- To bark scribe a tree monument or bearing tree is to lightly cut the appropriate marks into the bark of the tree without blazing.


BAROMETRIC LEVELING - (SURVEY)- Determining elevations by use of altimeters or barometers.


BASE- (CONSTRUCTION)- A layer of material placed immediately below the pavement surface.


BASE FLOOD - (FEMA-NFIP) - The flood having a 1% chance of being equaled exceeded in any given year. Also referred to as the 100-year flood. The base flood is used by the NFIP as the basis for mapping, insurance rating, and regulating new construction.


BASE FLOOD DEPTH - (FEMA-NFIP) - A measurement of the base flood in feet above ground, used for shallow flooding.


BASE FLOODPLAIN- (FEMA-NFIP) - The area of water and land inundated by the base flood.

BASE LINE – (PLSS)- A line which is extended east and west on a parallel of latitude from an initial point, and from which are initiated other lines for the Cadastral Survey of the public lands within the area covered by the principal meridian that runs through the same initial point. (GPS) A line defined by two stations previously observed by GPS.


BASE MAP - (MAPPING)- A map which contains the fundamental framework necessary for geographic reference and positioning of information that may be drawn or overprinted on it.


BASEMENT - (FEMA-NFIP) - The area of the building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.

BASIN – (SURVEY)-The entire area drained by a main stream and its tributaries.

BASIS PARALLEL – (PLSS)- The Base Line, as termed in early surveys.


BASE STATION- (GPS)- A known location with coordinates where a static GPS receiver is set. The base station provides differential corrections to the GPS station that is mobile.


BATHYMETRY - (SURVEY)-The art or science of determining ocean depths.


BATTER BOARDS-(CONSTRUCTION)- Boards set at the corners of a building for stretching wire or string that mark the limit of construction. Usually they reference an outside wall. In the case of trenching it is the board set across the trench to carry the grade line.

BEARING – (SURVEY)-The horizontal angle which a line makes with the meridian of reference adjacent to the quadrant in which the line lies. Bearings are classified according to the meridian of reference, such as; astronomic, geodetic, magnetic, grid, assumed, GPS.

BEARING OBJECT – (PLSS)- A corner accessory which may be a natural object that can be readily identified by its distance and direction from the corner being recorded. Also, used commonly in private surveys and construction surveys.

BEARING TREE – (PLSS)- A marked tree used as a corner accessory. Its distance and direction are recorded from the corner.

BED – (MINE)- A stratum in the earth’s crust which has been formed in an approximately horizontal layer. If of rock, it is termed “bedrock.”

BEDS OF NONNAVIGABLE LAKES AND STREAMS – (SURVEY)- The areas within the mean high-water lines of a lake, stream or river which are kept practically bare of vegetation from year to year by the wash of the waters; although parts of them are left dry for months at a time.


BENCHMARK- (SURVEY)- A relatively permanent object with a known elevation used as a reference for leveling.


BENEFICIAL USE OF WATER- (WATER RIGHTS)- The use of water by man for any purpose which benefits are derived, such as domestic, municipal, irrigation, livestock, industrial, power development, and recreation. Under the New Mexico constitution beneficial use is the basis, the measure and the limit of the right to use water; therefore, beneficial use of public water diverted or impounded by manmade works is an essential element in the development of a water right.


BETWEEN-EPOCH DIFFERENCE- (GPS)- The difference in the phase of the signal on one frequency from one satellite as measured between two epoch observed by one receiver.


BETWEEN RECEIVER- SINGLE DIFFERENCE- (GPS)- The difference in phase measurement between two receivers simultaneously observing the signal from one satellite on one frequency.


BETWEEN SATELLITE- SINGLE DIFFERENCE- (GPS)- The difference in the phase measurement between signals from two satellites on one frequency simultaneously observed by one receiver.


BFE (BASE FLOOD ELEVATION)- (FEMA)-


BIAS- (SYSTEMATIC ERROR)- (GPS)- Biases affect all measurements. They have many sources. Statistical modeling is one method used to eliminate or limit the effect of bias.

BINARY BIPHASE MODULATION- (GPS)- The procedure used to impress the pseudorandom noise onto GPS carrier waves using two states of phase modulations.


BIT- (GPS)- A unit of information in a binary system is 1 or 0.

BLAZE – (SURVEY)- A mark made upon a tree trunk usually at about breast height.

BLAZED LINE – (PLSS)- A sufficient number of trees differing from line trees in that they stand within 50 links of and on either side of the line, rather than being intersected by it, are blazed on two sides quartering toward the line.

BLOCK – (PLSS)- A subdivision of a town site.


BLOCK I, II, IIR, IIF SATELLITES- (GPS) The satellite's current and future generations.


BLUE TOP- (CONSTRUCTION)- After rough grading is complete (HUB and OFFSET), stakes are driven so their tops are at the elevations called for on the plans.


BLUNDER - (SURVEY)- A mistake. A blunder is not an error, though a small blunder may remain undetected in a series of observations and have the effect of an error in determining a result.

BONA FIDE – (LEGAL)- In or with good faith; honestly, openly and sincerely. Without deceit or fraud. Actual and genuine.

BONA FIDE RIGHTS – (LEGAL)- Rights, such as in ownership of land, which are real, actual, genuine and worthy of acceptance. Rights acquired in good faith under the law.

BOUNDARY, LAND – (SURVEY)- A line of demarcation between adjoining parcels of land. The parcels of land may be of the same or of different ownership, but distinguished at some time in the history of their descent by separate legal descriptions.

BOUNDARY LINE – (SURVEY)- A line along which two areas meet. A boundary line between privately owned parcels of land is usually termed a property line. If a boundary is a line of the United States public land surveys, it is given a particular designation, such as section line or township line.

BOUNDARY MONUMENT – (SURVEY)- A material object placed on or near a boundary line to preserve and identify the location of the boundary line on the ground.


BREAKING CHAIN- (SURVEY)-Measurements less than a full chain length that are used when chaining a slope.


BROADCAST- (GPS)- A modulated electromagnetic wave transmitted across a large geographical area.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT – (PLSS)- An agency of the Department of the Interior, it was created July 16, 1946, pursuant to Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946, which consolidated the functions and activities of the General Land Office and the Grazing Service.


BYTE- (GPS)- A sequence of binary digits the represent a single character.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.







C-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net


C/A CODE- (GPS)- A binary code known by Civilian/Access. It is a standard spread spectrum GPS pseudorandom noise code modulated on the L1 carrier using binary biphase modulations.


COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN (CAD) - COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN AND DRAFTING (CADD)- (SURVEY)- is the use of computer technology for the process of design, design-documentation and drafting.


CC – (PLSS)- Closing Corner.

CH, CHS – (SURVEY)- Chain, Chains.

CADASTRAL SURVEY – (PLSS)- A survey which creates, marks, defines, retraces or reestablishes the boundaries and subdivisions of the public land of theUnited States.


CALIBRATION- (SURVEY)- The process of comparing an instrument or tape with a true standard.

CALL – (SURVEY)- A reference to, or statement of, an object, course, distance or other matter of description in a survey or grant requiring or calling for a corresponding object, or other matter of description.


CALL- (WATER RIGHTS)- A demand that upstream water rights with more recent (junior) priority dates than the calling right cease diverting; the exercise of a senior water right holder in "calling" for his or her water rights, requiring junior water right holders to allow water to pass to the senior right holder.

CANCELLATION – (PLSS)- The annulment of a former accepted survey.

CARDINAL – (SURVEY)-The cardinal directions; north, south, east and west.


CARRIER- (GPS)- An electromagnetic wave that can be modulated to carry information.


CARRIER BEAT PHASE- (DOPPLER SHIFT)- (GPS)- The phase of a beat frequency created when GPS receiver frequency combines with an incomingcarrier.


CARRIER FREQUENCY- (GPS)- The frequency of the unmodulated signals broadcast by the satellites.


CARRIER PHASE- (GPS)- The term is normally used for GPS measurements based on the carrier signal itself rather than the codes modulated onto the carrier.


CARTOGRAPHY - (MAPPING)- The art, science and technology of expressing graphically, by maps, charts, three-dimensional models and globes, the known physical features of the earth or any heavenly body, at any scale. In particular,cartography is concerned with all phases of map finishing, including the designing of format and symbolization; drafting, editing, and proofing of map content; and specifying requirements for reproduction.


CELL TOWER SURVEY - (SURVEY)- Cell tower surveys are required by the FAA and include 2-C Letters and 1-A Letters that certify to the FAA certain requirements including vertical height and horizontal location of the tower.


CELL TOWER ALTA SURVEY- (SURVEY)- This is a customized "hybrid" ALTA survey that uses a specified scope of work to detail the cell tower lease area, access easements and utility easements. This survey shows the relationship between the parent parcel and the lease area, and depicts interior lease area details such as cable trays, buildings and the tower itself.

CENTERLINE – The line connecting opposite corresponding quarter corners or opposite subdivision-of-section corners or their theoretical positions. Applied to a street, right of way or any other strip of land of uniform width “centerline” defines the line midway between the side lines of said strip.


CERTIFIED FEDERAL SURVEYOR- CFedS- (SURVEY)- A surveyor's additional endorsement for boundary work for BIA, Tribes and adjacent Indian Trust Lands in addition to the State Certification.

CERTIFICATE OF SURVEY – (PLSS)- A document containing a statement dated and signed by a cadastral surveyor to the effect that a survey has been executed in strict conformity with the special instructions, the Manual of Instructions, and in the specific manner described in the field notes with which it is filed.

CERTIFICATION – (LEGAL)- A document which attests to the truth or authenticity of papers attached to it.


CESSATION OF NECESSITY- (LEGAL)- A way of necessity ceases when the necessity ceases in an easement.

CHAIN – (SURVEY)- The unit of length prescribed by law for the survey of the public lands of the United States. The chain is equivalent to 66 feet or 4 rods, poles or perches. 10 square chains equals one acre.

CHAINING – (SURVEY)- The operation of measuring a distance on the earth, using a chain or tape. The corresponding operation, in private surveys, is taping.

CHAINMEN – (SURVEY)- Those who measure and record the distances in chaining.

CHAIN OF TITLE – (SURVEY)- A term applied metaphorically to the series of conveyances, or other forms of alienation, affecting a particular parcel of land, arranged consecutively from the Government or original source of title down to the present holder, each of the instruments included being termed a “link.”


CHANGE OF GRADE- (CONSTRUCTION)- The difference in elevation between existing ground (slope) line and previous ground (slope) line.


CHANNEL- (GPS)- The circuitry needed to receive the signal from a satellite on each of the carrier frequencies it is broadcasting.

CHANNEL - (FEMA-NFIP) - Defined landforms that carry water.


CHUTE- (MINE)- (ore) chute for transferring broken rock in a mine; usually from a stope to a haulage passage.


CLAIMANT – (SURVEY)- An individual, corporation, association, State or local government, etc., asserting title or rights in land.

CLAIM JUMPING – (MINE)- Illegally taking possession of a mining claim previously staked by and in legal possession of another.

CLINOMETER – (SURVEY)- A hand held instrument used to measure vertical angles or the inclination of a slope. Also called an Abney Level.


CLOCK BIAS- (GPS)- The discrepancy between a GPS receivers clock and the satellite's clock and a reference such as Coordinated Universal Time or International Atomic Time.


CLOMA - (FEMA-NFIP) - Conditional Letter of Map Amendment.


CLOMR - (FEMA-NFIP) - Conditional Letter of Map Revision.


CLOSED BASIN - (WATER RIGHTS)-A basin is considered closed with respect to surface flow if its topography prevents the occurrence of visible outflow. It is closed hydrologically if neither surface nor underground outflow can occur.


CLOSED BASIN LAKE - (FEMA-NFIP) - A lake that has either no outlet or a relatively small one, where rainfall or groundwater can cause the lake's level to rise faster than it can drain.


CLOSED LOOP- (SURVEY)- A series of consecutive measurements that close on the beginning point.


CLOSED TRAVERSE-(SURVEY)- A series of consecutively measured lines that start at a known point and end on the same known point or another point that is known (located mathematically).

CLOSING CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner established where a survey line intersects a previously fixed boundary at a point between corners. The closing corner is located by law at the actual point of intersection without regard to its monumented location.

CLOSING SUBDIVISION-OF-SECTION CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner where a subdivision of section line closes on a State, reservation, grant or private claim boundary or on some other previously established survey.

CLOSING TOWNSHIP CORNER – (PLSS)- 1) The point of intersection of a guide meridian or a range line with a previously fixed standard parallel or base line. 2) The point of intersection of any township or range line with a previously fixed boundary at a point between previously established corners.

CLOSURE – (SURVEY)- The process of measurement in a closed figure for a check on horizontal or vertical precision.

CLOUD ON TITLE – (SURVEY)- An outstanding claim or encumbrance which, if valid, would affect or impair the title of the owner of a particular estate. A mortgage judgment or tax levy may in some cases constitute a cloud on title.


CODE PHASE- (GPS)- Measurements from the C/A code.

COAL DECLARATORY STATEMENT – (MINE)- An affidavit filed by a claimant under now obsolete laws, describing lands known to contain coal deposits. The filing segregated the lands. A Cash Entry patent was issued, giving the surface and the minerals to the patentee.

COAL ENTRY – (MINE)- A cash entry, under laws now repealed, covering public lands which contain valuable coal deposits or covering such coal deposits only.

COAL LANDS – (MINE)- Surveyed public lands chiefly valuable for their deposits of coal.

COAL LICENSE – (MINE)- An authorization to mine coal on the public lands free of charge for local domestic use.

CODICIL – (LEGAL)- A supplement or an addition to a will.

COLLATERAL EVIDENCE – (LEGAL)- Additional or auxiliary evidence. Accompanying or acting as secondary evidence.

COLLATERAL EVIDENCE (CADASTRAL SURVEY) – Such things as acts and testimony of interested landowners, competent surveyors, other qualified local authorities or some acceptable record evidence that may be used along with other evidence in identifying the true original position of a corner.

COLOR OF TITLE – (SURVEY)- If a claim to a piece of real property is based upon some written instrument, although a defective one, the person is said to have “color of title.” A claim which has as its basis that which the law considers prima facie a good title, but which, by reason of some defect not appearing on its face, is not in fact a title.

COMPASS SURVEY – (SURVEY)- A survey, which was executed using the magnetic compass.

CONDEMNATION – (LEGAL)- In real property law, the process by which property of a private owner is taken for public use, without his consent, but upon the award of payment of just compensation. It has the nature of a forced sale and the condemner has the position toward the owner of a buyer toward a seller.


CONDITIONAL LETTER OF MAP AMENDMENT - (FEMA-NFIP) - A statement from FEMA that if a project is constructed as planned, a Letter of Map Amendment can be issued later.


CONDITIONAL LETTER OF MAP REVISION - (FEMA-NFIP) - a STATEMENT FROM fema THAT IF A PROJECT IS CONSTRUCTED AS PLANNED, A lETTER OF mAP rEVISION CAN BE ISSUED LATER.

CONFLICT – 1) The overlap of the exterior lines of a claim onto a prior survey or other senior claim. 2) A variance or disagreement between what is written in the field notes and what is represented on the plat. 3) An apparent disagreement or ambiguity between various parts of the field notes. 4) A different representation on one plat compared to hand drafted copies thereof or compared to plats of adjacent surveys. 5) Any factor in the land status

CONFLICTING EVIDENCE – (PLSS)- A contradiction or disagreement of the actual ground conditions compared to the record, usually regarding topographic calls or characteristics of corner monumentation.

CONFLICTING TESTIMONY – (LEGAL)- A contradiction or ambiguity of facts, evidence, or statements made previously or made by other witnesses.


CONFIDENCE LEVEL- (GPS)- A statement of probability that the true value is within a particular range of values. Usually expressed as a precentage.

CONFLUENCE – (LEGAL)- Literally, flowing together. The joining of two or more streams of water.

CONFORMED ENTRY – (PLSS)- Used in independent resurveys to indicate that an entry according to the original survey agrees with the subdivisional lines of the resurvey, or that the entryman will accept the subdivisional lines of the resurvey as properly locating his claim.


CONSTANT ERROR- (SURVEY)- An error that always occurs with the same sign and magnitude.


CONSTELLATION- (GPS)- 1) All GPS satellites that are in orbit. 2) The group of satellites that are used during a GPS session or particular moment.


CONSTRUCTION LAYOUT- (CONSTRUCTION)- A survey that is performed to locate designed structures on the ground.

CONTEST – (LEGAL)- To make defense to an adverse claim in a court of law; to oppose, resist, or dispute the case made by a plaintiff. To strive to win or hold; to controvert, litigate, challenge; to defend, as a suit or other proceeding.

CONTIGUOUS LAND – (SURVEY)- Generally speaking, two parcels of land having a common boundary line.

CONTRACT – (LEGAL)- A binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish personal property or nonpersonal services (including construction) and the buyer to pay for them.

CONTOUR- (SURVEY)- An imaginary line on a map the connects points of the same elevation.


CONTOUR INTERVAL- (SURVEY)- The spacing (elevation difference) between contours shown on a map.

CONTROL, GEODETIC – (SURVEY)- A system of monumented stations having known, precise positions established by geodetic methods.

CONTROL LINES – (PLSS)- The primary control of the public land surveys of theUnited States consists of base lines, standard parallels (correction lines), principal meridians and guide meridians. Among field surveyors a control line is a survey line that can be used to establish horizontal and or vertical coordinates.


CONTROL- (SURVEY)- A series of points coordinated and correlated together that serve as a common framework for all points on a survey site. Control is sometimes both horizontal and vertical.

CONTROVERTED – (LEGAL)- Disputed; denied; opposed or contested.

CONVEY – (LEGAL)- The act of deeding or transferring title to another.

CONVEYANCE – (LEGAL)- In real property law, a transfer of legal title to land. An instrument, such as a deed, by which interest in real property is created or by which title to real property is transferred from grantor to grantee.


COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME- (GPS)- Universal Time systems are international and based on atomic clocks around the world. The Tempes Atomique International (TAI) that was established in the 1970's is actually more stable than the earths rotation.

COORDINATES – (SURVEY)- A set of numbers used in specifying the location of a point.

COORDINATE SYSTEM – (SURVEY)- A mathematically defined method for specifying the locations of points. Distances or angles from suitable references locate the points within the system.

CORNER – (SURVEY)- A point on the surface of the earth, determined by the surveying process, which defines an extremity on a boundary of private or public lands.

CORNER ACCESSORIES – (SURVEY)- Nearby physical objects to which corners are referenced for their future identification or restoration. Such accessories are actually a part of the monumentation.

CORNER CONTIGUITY – (MINE)- When parcels of land or mining claims have angle points (corners) in common – though they do not share a common boundary line – they are said to have ”corner contiguity.”

CORNER DESCRIPTION – (SURVEY)-The specific data (both old and new) about a corner monument and its accessories which include marks, positions, and physical characteristics. Corner monument markings – letters, numerals, lines, grooves or notches used to mark corner monuments. The markings usually indicate the location of the corner.

CORRECTIVE RESURVEY – (PLSS)- A survey made to correct an erroneous omission of original corner evidence discovered after a survey has been approved.


CORRECTION- (SURVEY)- A value that is applied to a measurement to reduce the effect of errors.

CORRESPONDING CORNERS – (PLSS)- Opposite, like corners of a subdivisional unit which control the subdivision of that unit.

CORROBORATING EVIDENCE – (LEGAL)- Evidence supplementary to that already given and tending to strengthen or confirm it.


CORS- CONTINUOUSLY OPERATING REFERENCE STATIONS- (GPS)- A system of base stations that support and are tied to the air and marine navigation system with real-time differential GPS correction signals.

COUNTRY ROCK – (MINE)- The rock beyond the walls of a lode. The strata between or across which the lode is found.

COURSE – (SURVEYING)- The direction of a line with reference to a meridian; also, the direction of flow of the water in a stream.


CRIBBING- (MINE)- A wall of light timbering between heavy supports at either vertical or horizontal mine working.

CROSSCUT – (MINE)- Something that cuts across or through. Specifically: a mine working driven horizontally and at right angles to an adit, drift or level.


CROSS HAIRS- (SURVEYING)- A set of wires or etched lines placed in a telescope used for sighting purposes (aiming).


CROSS SECTIONS- (SURVEY)- Elevations and distances measured along a line that is perpendicular to the center line and are used for design, volume and construction computations.

CROSSING CLOSING CORNER – (PLSS)- A term used to describe a corner set where a township or section line intersects (crosses) the line of a surveyed mineral claim, forest claim or the like. Crossing closing corner monuments are usually not set at these intersections unless such corners are required to provide an interval of monumentation of at least one-half mile. In instances where they may be required for operational or litigation purposes they will be provided for in the Special Instructions.


CUBIC FOOT PER SECOND (CFS)- (WATER RIGHTS) - The rate of discharge representing a volume of 1 cubic foot passing a given point during 1 second. It is equivalent to 7.48 gallons per second, or 448.8 gallons per minute.

CURTESY – (LEGAL)- The right which a husband has in his wife’s estate at her death. The state to which by common law a man is entitled, on the death of his wife, in the lands or tenements of which she is seised in possession in fee-simple or in tail during her coverture, provided they have had lawful issue born alive which might be capable of inheriting the estate. It is a freehold estate for the term of his natural life.

CUT – (MINE)- A surface opening in the ground intersecting a vein. In construction the removal of soil to obtain a desired elevation or grade.


CYCLE AMBIGUITY- (INTEGER AMBIGUITY)- (GPS)- The number of full wavelengths between a particular receiver and satellite is initially unknown in carrier phase measurements. This is called the integer or cycle ambiguity. There is a different ambiguity for each frequency and satellite that a receiver is tracking. If lock is lost, causing a cycle slip, then there is a new ambiguity to be resolved.


CYCLE SLIP- (GPS)- A discontinuity of an integer number of cycles in the carrier phase observable. A cycle slip caused the ambiguity to change suddenly. The cycle slips must be fixed in carrier phase data before double differenceobservable's can be processed.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.



D-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

DATUM – (SURVEY)- In ordinary survey usage, a defined reference for survey measurements. The plural form is datums.


DATUM SHIFT - (SURVEY)- A graphical correction required where source map data is on a different datum than the map under revision.


DECIBEL- (GPS)- Most GPS antennas have a gain of about 3 dB. The decibel is a comparison value and not a unit of power.

DECISION – (PLSS)- a decision is the reduction to writing of the adjudicative process. A decision orders the disposition of a case in a certain way, and contains a statement of the facts, laws and reasoning which require that disposition.

DECLINATION – (SURVEY)- An angle of difference.

DECLINATION, ASTRONOMIC – (SURVEY)- The angular distance of a celestial body north or south of the celestial equator. Astronomic declination on the celestial sphere corresponds with latitude on the earth. It is noted as positive (+) when north and negative (-) when south of the celestial equator.

DEED – (SURVEY)- A document which transfers title to real property. In those instances where a complicated metes and bounds description is the only description available, a deed may be used to transfer fee simple interest in public lands.

DEFENDANT – (LEGAL)- The person defending or denying; the party against whom relief or recovery is sought in an action or suit.

DEFICIENCY – (SURVEY)- The amount by which a boundary is less than the nominal amount.

DEFLECTION ANGLE – (SURVEY)- The angular difference from a straight line at an angle point in a traverse.


DEGREE- (SURVEY)- A unit of circular measurement equal to 1/360th of the circle. The unit of measurement for temperature.


DELINEATION - (MAPPING)- The visual selection and distinguishing of mapworthy features on the surface of various possible source materials by outlining the features on the source material, or on a map manuscript.


DE MINIMIS NON CURAT LEX – (LEGAL)- The law does not care for, or take notice of, very small or trifling matters.

DEMUR – (LEGAL)- To take exception. To make an objection. To present a demurrer.

DEMURRER – (LEGAL)- An answer to a legal action that assumes the truth of the matter alleged by the opposite party. It then sets up the defense that the complaint is insufficient in law to sustain his claim or that there is some other defect constituting a legal reason why the opposing party should not be allowed to proceed further.


DEPARTURE- (SURVEY)- The East-West component of a line that is determined by multiplying the distance times the sine of the direction.

DEPENDENT RESURVEY – (PLSS)- A retracement and reestablishment of the lines of the original survey in their true original positions according to the best available evidence of the positions of the original corners. It includes the restoration of lost corners in accordance with procedures described in the Manual of Surveying Instructions.

DEPOSIT – (MINE)- A quantity of mineral substances occurring naturally in the earth; as, a deposit of gold, oil, etc.

DEPOSITION – (LEGAL)- The testimony of a witness taken under oath and reduced to writing, authenticated, and intended to be used upon the trial of an action in court.


DEPRESSION CONTOUR - (MAPPING)- A contour forming a closed loop around lower ground.

DESCRIPTION BY LEGAL SUBDIVISION – (PLSS)- Definition of a unit or units of land with reference to the rectangular system; for example, Lot 3 and SE ¼ NW ¼ sec. 6, T. 8 N., R. 20 W., 5


DETAILED STUDIES - (FEMA-NFIP) - Flood hazard mapping studies that are done using hydrologic and hydraulic methods that produce base flood elevations, floodways, and other pertinent flood data.

DICTA – (LEGAL)- Opinions of a judge which are beside the point of a case at issue before the court


DIFFERENTIAL LEVELING- (SURVEYING)- The leveling process of determining the difference in elevation between two points.


DIFFERENTIAL GPS- (DGPS)- (GPS)- This term describes a method of data collection that improves GPS pseudorange accuracy. One GPS receiver is stationed on a know location, base, while other receivers are moved, roam. The base station is used to find corrective factors that can be used in real time or post process to improve the unknown location of the moving receivers.


DIGITAL IMAGE (OR DIGITIZED IMAGE) - (SURVEY)- An image composed of small, uniformly shaped regions each of which have assigned coordinates and color.

DIGITAL MAPPING - (SURVEY)- The process of generating a map using computer-processed data.


DIGITIZING - (SURVEY)- The conversion of a space relationship or measurement to numerical values in which mapping or cross-section data is converted to digital data.

DIKE – (SURVEY)- 1) (noun) An embankment or barrier constructed to hold water out of a low-lying area, or to hold water within an area. 2) (verb) To surround, protect, or enclose with such an embankment. 3) (in geology) A sheet like intrusion of magma forced upward through fissures in the earth’s crust and hardened to a tabular mass of igneous rock. A volcanic dike may vary from a few inches to hundreds of feet in horizontal thickness.


DILUTION OF PRECISION- (DOP)- (GPS)- This is a statistical indication of geometric strength of the configuration of satellites in a specific constellation at a particular moment. A high DOP indicates poorer results than a low DOP.


DIP- (MINE)- The vertical angle a vein or sedimentary bed makes with a horizontal plane.

DIRECT – (SURVEY)- 1) a transit observation on the sun used for computing bearing as opposed to use of the solar instrument. 2) The normal position of the transit’s or total station's telescope.


DIRECTION- (SURVEY)- The angle between a line and a chosen reference line. Commonly called an azimuth or bearing.


DIRECT MEASUREMENT – (SURVEY)- Determination of a distance by physical comparison or accumulation of distance using a device calibrated in some unit of measure.

DIRECT TIE – (SURVEY)- A connection to another survey point by physical measurement.

DIRTY SHEET – (PLSS)- A slang term for a sketch showing the current progress and details of the field work of a cadastral survey.

DISCOVERY – (MINE)- The basis of the right to locate a mining claim upon the public domain, discovery means the finding of mineralized rock in place. Also, the physical exposure of the mineral vein or lode or other mineral deposit on the ground

DISPOSAL, LAND – (PLSS)- A transaction which leads to the transfer of title to public lands from the Federal Government.

DISPOSITION – (PLSS)- A transaction which leads to the transfer of public lands, and/or resources in these lands from the Federal Government.


DISTANCE ROOT MEAN SQUARE- (ROOT MEAN SQUARE)- (RMS)- (DRMS)- (GPS)- A statistical measurement that can characterize the scatter in a set of randomly varying measurements. The rms is calculated from the data set by finding the root-mean-square. Two (2) rms values are expected statistically to contain 98% of the positions within the radius of a circle that a receiver collects.

DISTORTION – (PLSS)- A greater than usual change in bearings and distances of the original survey which is reflected by a retracement or resurvey.


DITHERING- (GPS)- Intentional introduction of digital noise to degrade the accuracy of GPS positions. Selective availability was turned off by the DOD in May of 2000.

DIURNAL – (GPS SURVEY)- Daily. Usually used in reference to a natural phenomenon which occurs only once in a given day.

DIVEST – (LEGAL)- To deprive; take away or withdraw. Usually spoken of in reference to depriving or dispossessing one of property, title or authority.

DIVIDE – (SURVEY)- A ridge or area of elevated land between two basins or valleys.

DOCUMENT – (SURVEY)- 1) An instrument on which is recorded, by means of letters, figures, marks or symbols, information which may be relied upon as the basis, proof or support of something. A deed, agreement, title paper, letter or other written instrument used to prove a fact. 2) To furnish written evidence. To provide with factual or substantial support for statements made or a hypothesis proposed; especially, to equip with exact references too authoritative supporting information.


DOD- Department of Defense

DOMESDAY-BOOK – (SURVEY)- A record of a survey of English lands made by order of William the Conqueror. It was begun in 1081 and finished in 1086. It is a description of the land, with the names of the owners, and the nature and extent of their holdings. It was, in effect, a survey.


DOMESTIC WATER USE - (WATER RIGHTS) - Water for normal household purposes, such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, and watering lawns, gardens and livestock supplied from a domestic source. Also called residential water use. The water can be obtained from a public supply or be self-supplied.


DOMINANT TENEMENT- (SURVEY)- The land benefited by an easement is known as the dominant tenement, while the land burdened by the easement is known as the servient tenement.


DUMPY LEVEL - (SURVEY)- A leveling instrument with its telescope permanently attached to the vertical spindle or leveling base as a single unit.

DONATION – (PLSS)- The voluntary conveyance of private property to public ownership and/or use, without compensation to the owner.


DOPPLER SHIFT- (GPS)- A systematic change in the apparent frequency of the receiver signal caused by the motion of the satellite and receiver relative to each other. Apparent change in frequency of radiant energy (sound waves, or electrical waves) when the distance between the source and the observer or receiver is constantly changing.


DOUBLE CENTERING- (SURVEYING)- A process of establishing a point by sighting direct and then plunging and marking the line of sight, then again, reverse and plunging and marking the line of sight. The midway point between the marks is determined the true extension.

DOUBLE CORNER – (PLSS)- Normally the two sets of corners along a standard parallel; the standard township, section, and quarter-section corners placed at regular intervals of measurement; additionally, the closing corners established on the line at the points of intersection of the guide meridians, range and section lines of the surveys brought in from the south. In other cases, not fully in conformity with the rectangular plan, two corners, each common to two townships only, instead of one corner of the four townships. Similarly, two corners, each common to two sections; and two quarter-section corners, each referring to one section only. The term is sometimes used incorrectly to denote two lines established on the ground although the field-note record indicates only one line, thus creating a hiatus or overlap.


DOUBLE DIFFERENCE- (GPS)- A method of GPS data processing where simultaneous measurements made by two receivers are combined. The unknowns of clock errors (timing) are eliminated from the solution.

DOUBLE MERIDIAN DISTANCE – (PLSS)- 1) The sum of the distances from the end points of a line to an arbitrary reference north-south line used for area computations. Sometimes considered as twice the distance from the midpoint of a line, which is mathematically equivalent. 2) The method of computing areas using DMDs or DPDs.

DOUBLE PARALLEL DISTANCE – (PLSS)- The sum of the distances from the end points of a line to an arbitrary east-west line used for checking area computations by the DMD method.

DOUBLE PROPORTIONATE MEASUREMENT (Also called “4-Way” proportion) – (PLSS)- A method of restoring a lost corner of four townships or four interior sections. It gives concordant relation between all parts of the times. The new values given to the several parts, as determined by remeasurement shall bear the same relation to the record lengths as the new measurement of the whole line bears to that record. In cases of distorted lines subject to double proportion, measurements are comparable only when reduced to their equivalent latitudes and departures.

DOWER – (LEGAL, ANCIENT)- The portion of, or interest in, the real estate of a deceased husband which the law gives to his widow for life. The extent varies with statutory provisions.

DRIFT – (MINE)- An underground passage driven horizontally along the course of a mineralized vein or approximately so.


DUAL-FREQUENCY- (GPS)- GPS Receiver measurements that use both L1 and L2. The pseudorange and carrier phase of both L-bands are used from the older satellite broadcasts.

DUE – (SURVEY)- Directly or exactly; in a cardinal direction with the usual precision of that survey


DUTY OF WATER - (WATER RIGHTS) - The amount of water that through careful management and use, without wastage, is reasonably required to be applied to a tract of land for a length of time that is adequate to produce the maximum amount of the crops that are ordinarily grown there.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.








E-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

EARTH CENTERED EARTH FIXED- (GPS)- A Cartesian coordinate system with three axes in which the origin is the Earth's center of mass, geocenter.


EARTHWORK- (CONSTRUCTION)- Operations connected with cutting and filling soil.


EASEMENT- (SURVEY)- Is a right, privilege, or liberty which one has in the land owned by another. It is not ownership of the fee but only a right in the others land.


ECCENTRICITY - (SURVEY)- 1) The amount of deviation from a centroid. 2) Lack of coincidence of the several centers of rotation, circles, and indexes of a survey instrument. 3) Horizontal displacement of the instrument or signal from the control point at the time an observation is made. 4) A measure of the relative shape of an ellipse or an ellipsoid.


EDM – (SURVEY)- Electronic Distance Measurement. An instrument which times the transmission and reception of an electronic signal to and from a reflector and translates the signal wavelength and time to a distance. A comparison of phase difference between transmitted and returned electromagnetic waves is analyzed.

EASEMENT – (SURVEY)- An interest or right in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use.


EASEMENT- APPARENT- (LEGAL)- Is an easement that is obvious, and one which is understood to be open and visible.


EASEMENT- APPURTENANT- (LEGAL)- If an easement was created for the purpose of benefiting other land owned by the holder of the easement, it is an appurtenant easement (appurtenant to the land it benefits).


EASEMENT- DRAINAGE - (LEGAL)- The right of water run off in a subdivision or highway routed onto adjacent land.


EASEMENT- BY DEDICATION- (LEGAL)- This process is used by many subdivisions and usually gives the public the right of passage but does not burden the municipality with the duty of maintenance unless the municipality agrees to maintenance.


EASEMENT- BY EXPRESS GRANT- (LEGAL)- Usually called a "deeded easement," an easement may be created by deed, plat, probate or related instrument.


EASEMENT- BY RESERVATION OR EXCEPTION- (LEGAL)- A form of deeded easement.


EASEMENT- BY AGREEMENT OR COVENANT- (LEGAL)- Is created by agreement or covenant and is construed the same as an express grant.


EASEMENT- BY IMPLICATION- (LEGAL)- The general rule of law is that when an owner of a tract of land conveys part of it to another, he is said to grant with it, by implication, all easements which are apparent, obvious and reasonable.


EASEMENT- BY PRESCRIPTION- (LEGAL)- An easement acquired by long continued use of another's land for the purposes of an easement. It is based on the idea that the easement is based on a grant that has become lost or destroyed over time. Normally, the same requirements as adverse possession of title are required.


EASEMENT- BY ESTOPPEL- (LEGAL)- The word "estop" means to stop, prevent, or prohibit.


EASEMENT- FLOWAGE - (LEGAL)- Is the right a person, or group has to flood water on land of another.


EASEMENT- IN GROSS- (SURVEY)- Does not benefit any other land. There is servient tenement but no dominant tenement. Examples would be a utility right-of-way.


EASEMENT SURVEY- (SURVEY)- Is the description, portrayal, or monumentation of easement(s) only.


EASEMENT- TERMINOLOGY- (LEGAL)- The land benefited by an easement is known as the dominant tenement, while the land burdened by the easement is known as the servient tenement.


EFFECTIVE FOCAL LENGTH - (MAPPING)- The adjusted value of the focal length of a lens which best corrects the geometric conditions of a given photogrammetric operation. In making diapositive plates, the settings of the printer are based on the effective focal length derived from the calibrated focal length and also adjusted to allow for film distortion.

EGRESS – (SURVEY)- A right to go upon the land of another.


ELEVATION- (GPS)- The distance measured along the direction of gravity above a surface of constant potential. The term height refers to the distance above an ellipsoid in geodesy and is not synonymous with elevation.


ELEVATION CERTIFICATE- (FEMA-NFIP)- The Elevation Certificate is an important administrative tool of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is to be used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate, and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision based on fill (LOMR-F).


ELEVATION ANGLE- (SURVEY)- A positive or upward measured vertical angle off of the horizon.


ELLIPSOID HEIGHT (GEODETIC HEIGHT)- (GPS)- The distance from an ellipsoid reference to a point on the earths surface.

ELLIPSOID OF REVOLUTION- (SPHEROID)- (GPS)- A biaxial closed surface with planar section being circles or ellipses. It is formed by relving an ellipse about its minor axis. Two quantities define an ellipsoid of revolution, 1) the semimajor axis a 2) the flattening f= (a-b)/a where b is the length of the semiminor axis.

ELONGATED SECTION – (PLSS)- A section which exceeds 85 chains in either length or width as originally surveyed and platted.

EMINENT DOMAIN – (LEGAL)- The right of governmental agencies to take private property for public use.

ENCROACHMENT – (SURVEY)- An unlawful and adverse intrusion within the boundary of a property, such as cultivation of the soil, enclosure by fence, the construction of an improvement, extension of a tunnel, underground operation or comparable act.


ENCROACHMENT REVIEW - (FEMA-NFIP) - An analysis to determine if a project will increase flood heights or cause increased flooding downstream.

ENCUMBRANCE – (SURVEY)- Any right to or interest in land which makes it subject to a charge or liability. Encumbrances include mortgages, judgment liens, attachments, leases, deed restrictions, unpaid taxes, inchoate rights of dower and so forth.

END LINE – (MINE) The end lines of a claim, as platted or laid down on the ground, are those which mark its boundaries on the shorter dimension, where it crosses the vein. If the claim as a whole crosses the vein, instead of following its course, the end lines are still the boundaries of the shorter dimension, even though they are along the course of the vein.


ENGINEERING SURVEY - (SURVEY)- The process of collecting and recording information for planning, building and recording an engineering project.


ENGINEER’S LEVEL - (SURVEY)- A precision leveling instrument for establishing horizontal line of sight, used to determine differences of elevation.

ENTRYMAN – (PLSS)- One who makes an entry of land under the public land laws of the United States.

EPHEMERIS – (SURVEY)- Any tabular statement of the assigned places of a celestial body for regular intervals. (GPS) A table showing location data to derive a satellite's position and velocity.


EPOCH- (GPS) The time interval in GPS of each observation in seconds.


EQUATION - (SURVEY)- 1) A statement of equality of the same point on a route survey which has two values. 2) One of a set of simultaneously solved equality statements which adjust for fixed conditions of length, angles, azimuth or position in least squares statistical adjustment.

EQUITABLE – (LEGAL)- 1) Just; conformable to the principles of right and justice. Just, fair and right in consideration of the facts and circumstances of an individual case. 2) Existing, available or sustainable only in equity or by the rules and principles of equity.

EQUITY – (LEGAL)- A system of law originating in the English chancery and comprising a settled and formal body of legal and procedural rules and doctrines that supplement, aid or override common and statute law. Rules of equity are designed to protect rights and enforce duties as created and defined by law. In another legal meaning, “equity” is the remaining interest belonging to one who has pledged or mortgaged his property, or the surplus of value which may remain after the property has been sold to satisfy liens. The amount of value of a property above the total liens or charges.

ERRONEOUS LOCATION – (SURVEY)- Where it is evident that lands have been occupied in good faith but boundaries as occupied are clearly in disagreement with the demonstrated position of the legal subdivision.


ERROR - (SURVEY)- A type of small inaccuracy due to imperfections in equipment or techniques, surrounding conditions, or human limitations; not to be confused with blunders or mistakes.


ERROR OF CLOSURE- (SURVEY)- The deference between an actual measured location and its theoretical location determined mathematically.

ESCHEAT – (LEGAL)- In English feudal law, the reversion of lands to the lord of the fee in consequence of a want of an individual competent to inherit. In modern law, the State is deemed to occupy the place and hold the rights of the feudal lord. Real property may be claimed by the State where there is no will and/or no competent inheritors can be found.

ESCROW – (LEGAL)- The state or condition of a deed which is conditionally held by a third person, or the possession and retention of a deed by a third person pending performance of a condition. While in the possession of the third person, and subject to condition, it is called an “escrow.”

ESTATE – (LEGAL)- The interest which anyone has in lands or in any other property. The word estate is used in conveyances in connection with the words “right,” “title” and “interest.” It is, to some degree, synonymous with all of them.

ESTOPPEL – (LEGAL)- The stopping of a person from asserting a claim by reason of his own previous representations which refute his new claim. The new claim may in fact be true, however, he may be prevented from exerting that claim by “estoppel.”

EVIDENCE – (LEGAL)- Testimony, physical objects, marks, traces of former objects or relationship between any of these which may furnish proof or part of a proof of a corner location or line location.

EVIDENCING OF TITLE – (LEGAL)- Proof of title to a tract of land as shown by an abstract of the recorded patent and deeds of transfer, inheritance, court decree, or other means of establishing the title.

EXCEPTION – (LEGAL)- In deeds or conveyances, a clause used by the grantor to retain some part of the former estate by excluding it from the deed or grant. “Except” means “not including.”

EXCHANGE – (PLSS)- A transaction whereby the Federal Government receives land in exchange for other land and/or timber.

EXISTENT CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner whose position can be identified by verifying the evidence of the monument, or its accessories, by reference to the description that is contained in the field notes, or where the point can be located by an acceptable supplemental survey record, some physical evidence or testimony.

EX OFFICIO – (LEGAL)- From office; powers exercised by an official not specifically conferred on him but necessarily implied in his office.

EXPERT WITNESS – (LEGAL)- A witness is a person who testifies as to what he has observed. An “expert witness” may testify additionally as to matters of opinion on subjects within fields for which he is qualified. Thus, a surveyor may interpret the meanings of the symbols, letters and numbers on a plat but he may say nothing to add to or subtract from the official record, which speaks for itself by definition.

EXTINGUISHMENT – (LEGAL)- To render legally nonexistent; to destroy or render void; to nullify

EXTRALATERAL RIGHTS – (MINE)- The right to mine ore downward along a lode or vein beyond the side lines of a mining location (claim). The right is limited to claims which contain the apex of the vein at or very near the surface, which are oriented with the lode line substantially along the vein and which have the end lines substantially parallel. The right does not extend beyond planes passing vertically through the end lines.

EXTRAPOLATE - (SURVEY)- To calculate the value of a function lying beyond an interval from values of the function within that interval. In topographic surveys extrapolation is used in estimating the elevation of a point so situated that the elevation cannot be interpolated between two contour lines.


EYOTT - (SURVEY)- A small island arising in a river.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.


F-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

FALLING – (SURVEY)- The distance by which a random line falls to the right or left of a corner on which the true line is to close. Usually the direction of falling is expressed as cardinal.


FALSE ORIGIN - (SURVEY)- An arbitrary zero point to the south and west of a grid zone which is assigned to avoid negative coordinate values.


FATHOM - (SURVEY)- A unit of distance equivalent to 6 feet, used primarily in marine depth measurements.


FEATHERING - (MAPPING)- 1) The technique of progressively dropping contours, to avoid congestion on steep slopes. 2) The thinning of overlapping edges of photographs before assembly into a mosaic in order to make match lines lessnoticeable.

FEE – (LEGAL)- The true meaning of the word “fee” is the same as that of “feud” or “fief,” and in its original sense it is distinguished from “allodium,” which is defined as a man’s own land, possessed in his own right, without owing any rent or service to any superior. In modern English tenures, “fee” means an estate of inheritance clear of any condition, limitation, or restriction to particular heirs, but descendable to the heirs in general, male or female, lineal or collateral. In American law, the terms “fee,” “fee simple” and “fee simple absolute” are equivalent.

FEE SIMPLE – (LEGAL)- The estate which a man has where lands are owned by him and his heirs absolutely, with unconditional power of disposition during his life, and descending to his heirs and legal representatives upon his death intestate. Fee simple title to public lands in conveyed by a patent, approved clear list, deed or grant without condition.


FEMA - (FEMA-NFIP) - Federal Emergency management Agency. Most of the National Flood Insurance Program field work.


FHBM - (FEMA-NFIP) - Flood Hazard Boundary Map. An official map of a community published by FEMA that delieneates the approximate boundary of the floodplain.

FIDUCIAL AXES - (MAPPING)- The imaginary lines defined by opposite fiducial marks on a photograph. The x axis is considered to be the axis nearly parallel with the flight lines.

FIELD EXAMINER (Prior to 1910) – (PLSS)- A surveyor who was employed by the Government to inspect the accuracy and authenticity of contract surveyors’ work.

FIELD NOTES – (SURVEY) - The official written record of the survey.

FIELD RETURNS – (PLSS)- The field notes, reports and plats submitted for acceptance or approval.

FIELD TABLETS – (PLSS) - Notebooks in which the initial information is recorded in the field, and from which the Field Notes are transcribed.


FILL- (CONSTRUCTION)- The use of soil or rock to build up the ground to a desired elevation; to build up with fill; to fill low ground with sand, gravel or earth; the material used to artificially raise topography.

FINAL CERTIFICATE – (PLSS)- A document which evidences that an entryman is entitled to a patent provided that no irregularities are found in connection with his entry.

FINAL ENTRY – (PLSS)- Where an application to acquire title to public lands has been filed in the proper manner and all the requirements of law and the governing regulations have already been complied with, it is a final entry. Final entries may be either cash entries or commuted entries.

FINAL RETURNS – (PLSS)- In cadastral surveying usage, the field returns are the field notes, reports and plats submitted for acceptance or approval. If some error or omission is found, the field work must be corrected or completed. The corrected and/or completed field returns are referred to as “final returns.”


FIRM - (FEMA-NFIP) - Flood Insurance Rate Map. An Official map of a community, on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has delineated both the Special Flood Hazard Areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

FIRST FORM RECLAMATION WITHDRAWAL – (PLSS)-A reclamation withdrawal which embraces public lands that are or may be needed in connection with the construction and maintenance of a reclamation project.


FIRST ORDER - (SURVEY) - The designation given survey work or equipment which conforms to the highest standards of precision and accuracy gathered by traditional methods rather than GPS.


FIXED - (SURVEY)- A descriptive term used with a bench mark, point, position, or station, to designate a point for which geodetic quality coordinates have been established by a previous adjustment or by a more precise survey and are to be held without disturbance in a newer survey or adjustment.

FIXED BOUNDARY – (SURVEY)- An unchangeable boundary created by operation of law. Examples are: 1) a standard parallel or other control line becomes a fixed boundary on return of areas in adjacent quarter sections. 2) A median line of a nonnavigable stream becomes a fixed boundary after an avulsive change. 3) Meander lines can become fixed boundaries when omitted lands have been created by gross error or fraud in the original survey.

FLAGMAN – (SURVEY)- A member of a survey party who gives sights to or takes line from the instrument man and flags distant points along the survey line. Also called “point setter.”


FLIGHT LINE - (MAPPING)- A line drawn on a map or chart to represent the planned or actual track of an aircraft.

FLOOD-PLAIN - (SURVEYING)- The flat plain, bordering a river, which has been formed from deposits of sediment carried down by the river. When a river rises and overflows its banks, the water spreads over the flood-plain.


FLUME- (MINE)- a device for conveying water.


FOCAL LENGTH - (MAPPING)- A general term for the distance between the center, vertex, or rear node of a lens and the point at which the image of an infinitely distant object comes into critical focus.


FOCUS- (SURVEY)- The point in a telescope where the rays of light converge to form an image.

FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ORIGINAL SURVEYOR – (SURVEY)- Retracement of survey lines using field and survey record evidence to determine the direction and distances measured by the surveyor who created the boundary. The process usually requires remeasurement of topographic calls, search for evidence of the previous survey work, determination of consistent of inconsistent chaining or bearing error in the original survey, and consideration of various conditions at the time the survey was executed as well as the methods and equipment used by the surveyor to be followed.


FORENSIC SURVEY (EXPERT WITNESS SURVEY) - (LEGAL)- A licensed surveyor can clarify and add credibility to a court case about aspects of an industrial accident, crime scene or an automobile accident.


FORESHORE – (LEGAL)- 1) According to riparian law, the strip of land between the high and low water marks that is alternately covered and uncovered by the flow of the tide. 2) The part of the shore, lying between the crest of the seaward berm (or upper limit of wave action at high tide) and the ordinary low water mark, that isordinarily traversed by the uprush and backrush of the waves as the tides rise and fall.

FORESIGHT – (SURVEY)- 1) A sight on a new survey point made in connection with its determination. 2) a distant object intersected by a straight survey line used for checking alinement.

FOUND CORNER – (PLSS)- An existent corner of the public land surveys which has been recovered by field investigation.


FRACTIONAL INSTANTANEOUS PHASE- (GPS)- A carrier beat phase measurement not including the integer cycle count.

FRACTIONAL SECTION – (PLSS)- A section, which in its original form, contained one or more subdivisions of less than forty (40) acres due to irregular exterior boundaries, or due to the encroachment of a meandered body of water or other land which could not properly be surveyed or disposed of as an aliquot part of that section.

FRACTIONAL TOWNSHIP – (PLSS)- A township containing less than 36 normal sections, usually because of invasion by a segregated body of water, or by other land which cannot properly be surveyed as part of that township or by closing the public-land surveys on State boundaries or other limiting lines.

FRAGMENTARY SURVEYS – (PLSS)- Surveys required to identify parts of townships and sections not completed in original surveys. This may include partially surveyed sections, omitted public land islands and other lands of substantial value and extent that for various reasons were not included in the original surveys. Surveys of this type frequently require consideration of the question of title prior to the extension of the former surveys.

FREE AND CLEAR – (LEGAL)- The title to property is said to be “free and clear” when it is not encumbered by any lien; but it is said that agreement to convey land “free and clear” is satisfied by a conveyance passing a title.


FREQUENCY BAND- (GPS)- Within the electromagnetic spectrum it is a range of frequencies.


FREQUENCY- (WAVELENGTH)- (GPS)- The number of cycles per unit of time within the electromagnetic spectrum, L1 is 1575.42 MHz and L2 is 1227.60 MHz.

FRONTING – (SURVEY)- Usually signifies abutting, adjoining, or bordering on, depending on the context. Land abutting on a highway, river, seashore or the like. The land extending along a road, street, river, canal or ocean. The term, as used in statutes relating to assessments for improvements, indicates that there is no intervening land.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.



G-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net


GEODESIC - (SURVEY)- The shortest line connecting two points on the surface of an ellipsoid.


GEODESY- (GPS)- The science concerned with the size and shape of the earth.


GEODETIC - (GPS)- Referred to or based on principals of geodesy.


GEODETIC AZIMUTH – (SURVEY)- The horizontal angle at station A measured from a north south plane (perpendicular to the reference ellipsoid) clockwise to an ellipsoidal normal section passing through station B. Geodetic azimuth is determined by applying a correction to astronomic azimuth or by computations on the reference ellipsoid. The azimuth from A toward B is the forward azimuth while the azimuth from B toward A is the back azimuth of station.

GEODETIC CONTROL – (SURVEY)- A system of monumented stations having known, precise positions established by geodetic methods.

GEODETIC COORDINATES – (SURVEY)- Quantities which define a horizontal position on an ellipsoid of reference with respect to a geodetic datum.


GEODETIC DATUM- (GPS)- A model defined by an ellipsoid and the relationship between the ellipsoid and the surface. A reference for geodetic survey measurements consisting of fixed latitude, longitude and azimuth values associated with a defined station as well as two constants for an ellipsoid of reference.


GEODETIC POSITION – (GPS) - A position of a point on the surface of the earth expressed in terms of geodetic latitude and geodetic longitude. A geodetic position implies an adopted geodetic datum. In a complete record of a geodetic position, the datum must be stated.


GEODETIC SURVEY – (GPS, SURVEY) - A precise survey of considerable extent which takes into account the shape of the earth.


GEOGRAPHIC - (SURVEY) - Represents a basic relationship to the earth considered as a globe-shaped body. The term “geographic” is also applied to data based on an ellipsoid and on a geoid.


GEOGRAPHIC DATA- (GIS) Information about objects found on the earth's surface, including their locations, shapes, and descriptions. Geographic data comes in three basic forms, spatial, tabular and image.


GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM- (GIS) An organized collection of computer hardware, software,and geographic data designed for capturing, storing, updating, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. A computer system used to acquire, store, manipulate, analyze, and display spatial data.

GEOGRAPHIC POSITION – (GPS, SURVEY) - The coordinates of a point on the surface of the earth expressed in terms of latitude and longitude, either geodetic or astronomic.


GEOID- (GPS)- The equipotential surface of the Earth's gravity field which approximates mean sea level.


GEOIDAL HEIGHT- (GPS)- The distance from the ellipsoid of reference to the geoid measured along a perpendicular to the ellipsoid of reference.


GEOMATICS- (GEOSPATIAL TECNOLOGY, GEOMATICS ENGINEERING, SURVEYING)- (SURVEY)- The discipline of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information.


GEOMETRICAL DILUTION OF PRECISION (GDOP)- (GPS)- A statistical analysis of GPS positioning data.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (GLO) – The first Geological Surveys of the public lands were initiated in 1844 by the General Land Office, in Michigan. Similar surveys were made in Wisconsin and Iowa during 1847; in Oregon and Washington during 1853; in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming during 1857. All such surveys were performed under private contracts. The Geological Survey was not established as a bureau of the Department of the Interior until 1879.


GEOLOGICAL SURVEY - (SURVEY)- A survey in conjunction with a geologist that measures the surface features such as outcrops and landforms. This data is used for the purpose of creating a geological map or model of the subsurface.


GLOBAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEM (GNUS)- (GPS)- European combination of GPS, GLONASS and other systems.


GLOBAL ORBITING NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEM (GLONASS)- (GPS)- A satellite radio navigation system financed by the Soviet Commonwealth.


GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS)- A radio navigation system for providing the location of GPS receivers with great accuracy.

GOVERNING BOUNDARIES – (PLSS)- Usually the south and east boundaries of a township, but may be termed the satisfactorily surveyed lines on which subdivisions are to be based. In rare and extreme cases, therefore, an irregular township may be without a single governing boundary.

GOVERNING SECTION LINE – (PLSS)- A township subdivision line ran as the controlling boundary to rectify a defective township exterior. The line is surveyed on a bearing calculated to intersect the controlling corner on the opposite boundary. The last mile is run random and true. Completion of the subdivision of a township is based upon this boundary.


GPS RECEIVER- (GPS)- An receiver that captures modulated GPS satellite signals to derive measurements of time, position, and velocity.


GPS TIME- (GPS)- Is the time given by all GPS Monitoring Stations and satellite clocks. GPS time is regulated by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).


GRADE- (CONSTRUCTION)- The slope of the surface of the ground. It is also used to describe the elevation that is desired.


GRADE STAKING- (CONSTRUCTION)- The process of setting stakes that mark elevations to cut or fill.


GRADIENT- (GPS)- The slope or rate of descent or ascent of a line.

GRADUAL AND IMPERCEPTIBLE – (LEGAL)- Describes changes in riparian lands that bring them within the scope of the doctrine of accretion and erosion. The test of what is gradual and imperceptible has been held to be that “though the witnesses may see, from time to time, that progress has been made, they could not perceive it while the progress was going on.”

GRANT – (GRANT)- Lands, title to which has been confirmed or conferred to theUnited States for a particular reason or purpose.

GRANT BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT – (GRANT) - A mathematical distribution of the closing error which consists of a uniform rotation and scale change of the record courses to conform to the retracment value between the controlling corners.

GRANTEE – (LEGAL) -A person, firm or corporation to whom land, easements or other property is conveyed or granted.

GRANTOR – (LEGAL) - A person, firm or corporation granting or conveying land, easements or other property.


GREAT CIRCLE - (SURVEY) - The line of intersection of the surface of a sphere with any plane which passes through the center of the sphere

GREENWICH MERIDIAN – (SURVEY) - The Prime Meridian. The meridian which passes through the original site of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, Englandwas adopted in 1884 by a conference of nations as the initial or zero of longitudes. From it other longitudes are reckoned east and west.


GRID - (MAPPING, SURVEYING) - 1) A network composed of two sets of lines, each set drawn according to a definite pattern and intersecting the other in a specific geometric arrangement. A common grid consists of uniformly spaced parallel lines intersecting at right angles. The term is frequently used to designate a plane-rectangular coordinate system superimposed on a map projection, in which case it generally carries the name of the projection; that is, Lambert grid, transverse Mercator grid, Universal transverse Mercator grid (SURVEY) - 2) A reference to the State Plane Coordinate System.

GRID AZIMUTH – (SURVEY) - The angle in the plane of projection between a straight line and the central meridian (y-axis) of a plane-rectangular coordinate system. Although essentially a map quantity, a grid azimuth may, by mathematical processes, be transformed into a geodetic azimuth.


GRID DISTANCE (LENGTH) - (SURVEY) - The distance between two points by inverse computation from grid coordinates of the points. It differs from the geodetic length by an amount based on the scale factor for the line.


GRID BEARING – (SURVEYING) - The smaller angle in the plane of projection between a line and a north-south grid line. Grid bearings are determined only by mathematical computations or by applying corrections to geodetic azimuths.

GRID LENGTH – (SURVEY) - The distance between two points as obtained by inverse computation from the plane-rectangular coordinates of the points. In the state coordinate systems, a grid length differs from a geodetic length by the amount of a correction based on the scale factor for the given line.


GROUND DISTANCE - (SURVEY) - A measured distance not reduced by height to a datum or to sea level (geodetic) distance.


GROUND TRUTH - (SURVEY) - A term used when information is obtained on surface or subsurface features to aid in interpretation of remotely sensed data.


GRUB STAKE- (MINE) - Financing a prospector to share in his findings.

GUARANTEE OF TITLE – (LEGAL) - A certification which insures that the title exists in fact as described. Often issued by title-guarantee companies or by the state, as in the case of a Land Court certificate.

GUIDE LINE – (PLSS) - An obsolete term for random line.

GUIDE MERIDIAN – (PLSS) - An auxiliary governing line projected north along an astronomical meridian, from points established on the base line or a standard parallel, usually at intervals of 24 miles east or west of the principal meridian, on which township, section, and quarter-section corners are established.


GUINEA- (CONSTRUCTION)- A wood survey marker driven to grade. It may be colored with paint. Used for finishing and fine trimming. Also called a hub.


GUINEA HOPPER- (CONSTRUCTION)- A member of the grading crew who works ahead of the grader uncovering hubs and signaling the blade operator to cut or fill as required.


GUNTER'S CHAIN- (SURVEY) - A measuring device composed of 100 metal links fastened together with rings. The length of the chain is 66 feet. The source of the term "chain" is frequently used in tape and steel tape measurements in surveying.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.



H-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

HACK – (SURVEY) - A horizontal notch cut well into a tree at about breast height. In a cadastral survey, two hacks are cut to distinguish them from other, accidental marks. A vertical section of the finished hack marks resembles a double-V extending across a tree from two to six inches, depending on the diameter of the tree. The “blaze” and “hack” marks are equally permanent, but so different in character that one mark should never be mistaken for the other.

HALF – (PLSS)- A fractional part of a regular section subdivision determined according to equally divided linear measurements without consideration of the areas of the halves. Half a regular section consists of any two quarter sections which have a common boundary, divided by a line between opposite ¼ corners. In past years, patents for half of a Government lot have been erroneously issued. The division line was determined by equally divided linear measurements without regard to the actual area of the halves. In private land exchanges, it is generally presumed that a conveyance for half of a parcel grants half the area unless otherwise stated.

HALF-MILE POSTS – (PLSS)- In early survey practice, in parts of Alabama andFlorida, so-called “half-mile posts” were established. In some cases the “half-mile post” was not at mid-point on the section line. In other cases the “half-mile post” was in true position for the quarter-section corner. In still other instances the “half-mile post” was not on true line nor at mid-point on the line. Each set of field notes regarding “half-mile posts” require individual consideration, as the survey practices were not uniform even within the same surveying district.

HALF-RANGE NUMBERS – (PLSS)- In the instances where the distance between the regular position for township boundaries is so great that the application of normal rules would result in sections elongated in excess of 120 chains. It is also used for identifying areas left unsurveyed by hiatus.

HALF-TOWNSHIP NUMBERS – (PLSS)- In the rare cases where the distance between the regular position for township boundaries is so great that the application of normal rules would result in sections elongated in excess of 120 chains,half-township (or half-range) numbers may be created. Also used for identifying areas left unsurveyed by hiatus.


HANDOVER WORD- (GPS)- Data in the navigation message used to transfer tracking from the C/A code to the P code.


HANGING WALL- (MINE) - the upper wall of an inclined or dipping vein


HARMONIOUSLY RELATED – (PLSS) - Conditions existing during the corner restoration process when a corner point under consideration reasonably conforms in position to that indicated by evidence at other corners of the survey, considering both the record and the survey conditions.


HARN - (GPS)- High Accuracy Reference Network (HARN) is used for a statewide geodetic network upgrade. It is a statewide or regional upgrade in accuracy of NAD 83 coordinates using Global Positioning System (GPS) observations.

HEADING – (MINE) - A preliminary passageway driven for exploratory purposes or to facilitate future work.

HEAVE – (MINE)- The horizontal distance between the parts of a vein that have been separated by a fault, measured along the strike of the fault. A vertical fault can have no heave, and a horizontal fault can have no throw.

HEAVY BEARING – (SURVEY) - A survey slang term for a bearing which departs markedly from cardinal. A bearing of 2 or more degrees from cardinal may be considered a “heavy” bearing. “Strong bearing” is used synonymously.


HEC_RAS- (FEMA-NFIP) - A computer model, as HEC-2, used to conduct hydraulic study, which produces flood elevations, velocities and floodplain widths.

HECTARE – (SURVEY) - A metric unit of area equal to 100 ares or 2.471 acres.


HEIGHT OF INSTRUMENT (HI)- (SURVEY) - The height of the instrument above the station point.

HEREDITAMENT – (LEGAL) - Property subject to inheritance.

HIATUS – (SURVEY) - An area between two surveys, the record of which describes them as having one or more common boundary lines with no omission.

HIGH WATER – (LEGAL) - 1) The maximum height or stage reached by rising water. 2) The maximum height reached by a rising tide. The height may be due solely to the periodic tidal forces or it may have superimposed on it the effects of prevailing meteorological conditions.

HIGH WATER LINE – (LEGAL) - The intersection of the land with the water surface at an elevation of high water.

HIGH WATER MARK – (LEGAL) - 1) The line which the water impresses on the soil by covering it for sufficient periods to deprive it of upland vegetation. 2) A line or mark left upon tide flats, beach, or alongshore objects indicating the elevation of the intrusion of high water. The mark may be a line of oil or scum on alongshore objects, or a more or less continuous deposit of fine shell or debris on the foreshore or berm. This mark is physical evidence of the general height reached by wave run-up at recent high waters. It should not be confused with the mean high water.


HINGE POINT- (CONSTRUCTION)- The point at which a fill slope stops and the road or shoulder grade begins.


HOLOGRAPHY - (GIS) -The process of recording and reproducing an image using two surfaces and a laser beam which scans the object. No lens is used. The viewer “sees” the object in three dimensions and the “object” can be turned to view it from different angles.


HORIZON, CLOSING THE- (SURVEY) - Measurement of angles about a point such that the sum of the angles should be 360 degrees.


HORIZONTAL - (SURVEY) - A plane perpendicular to the plumbline at the point of origin.


HORIZONTAL AXIS- (SURVEY) - The axis about which the telescope rotates vertically.


HORIZONTAL REFRACTION - (SURVEY) - The lateral effect of earths refraction on an observed direction.


HUB- (CONSTRUCTION) - A 2 inch by 2 inch wooden stake from six inches to twenty inches in length that is driveninto the ground. It is used to mark control points, building corners, center lines etc.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

I-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

IA – (PLSS) - Indian Allotment.

IAS – (PLSS) - Indian Allotment Survey.


IMPROVEMENT LOCATION REPORT- (ILR)- (SURVEY)- is the preparation of a report which complies with all of the requirements and limitations as set forth in 12.8.2.10 NMAC, and which is issued to a title, abstract or escrow company or a lending institution for their exclusive use in determining such things as insurability or value of a tract of land.

INCHOATE – (LEGAL) - Imperfect; partial; unfinished. Begun but not completed; as a contract not signed by all the parties.

INCHOATE TITLE – (LEGAL) - The beginning of a title or one not yet perfected into a legal title. When only a portion of the requirements for title has been completed, the title is “inchoate.”

INCORPOREAL PROPERTY – (LEGAL) - That which cannot be seen or touched. Property, such as a right, which exists only in contemplation, as distinguished from corporeal property which has a material existence and which may be seen and touched.

INCREMENT BORER – (SURVEY) - Sometimes called increment boring tool, it is a tool used to cut a plug from a tree to permit a count of the growth rings in determining the age of the tree.

INDEMNITY LANDS – (PLSS) - Alternate lands granted to states under the public land laws when granted lands were unavailable.

INDEMNITY LIMITS – (PLSS) - In railroad and wagon road grants, the strips of land lying within a specified distance on each side of, and adjacent to, the primary limits, within which the grantee could make lieu selections for lands lost to the grantee in the primary limits; also, the outside boundaries of these strips.

INDENTURE – (LEGAL) - In conveyancing, formal written instrument made between two or more persons; the name is derived from the ancient practice of indenting or cutting the deed in a waving or saw-tooth line. In this way a part could be proved genuine by the way in which it fit into the angles cut into the other part.


INDEPENDENT BASELINES (NONTRIVIAL BASELINES)- (GPS)- These are baselines observed using GPS. When more that two receivers are observing at the same time, both independent (nontrivial) and trivial baselines are generated. When r is the number of receivers, every complete static session yields r-1 independent (nontrivial) baselines.

INDEPENDENT RESURVEY – (PLSS)- An official rerunning and remarking intended to supersede the records of the originalsurvey and establish new section lines and subdivisions on public lands only. Any patented lands involved must be identified and segregated according to the original survey. Only remaining areas of the public lands may be resurveyed without regard to the original survey.

INDEX CORRECTION – (PLSS)- 1) As used in the resurvey of the public lands, an average error in the lines of the original survey. The average error in the lines of an original survey (if conclusive) may be in alinement, or measurement, or both. 2) A correction applied to a reading to compensate for displacement of the zero mark.


INDEX CONTOUR- (SURVEY)- On a topographic survey it is a contour that is darker than the others and indicates certain spacing in elevation change.


INDIRECT LEVELING- (SURVEY) - Measuring vertical angles and slope distances to determine elevation change mathematically.

INDIAN ALLOTMENT – (PLSS) - An allocation of a parcel of public lands or Indian reservation lands to an Indian for his/her individual use.

INDICATED CORNER – (PLSS) - A term adopted by the USGS to designate a corner of the public land surveys whose location cannot be verified by the criteria necessary to class it as a found or existent corner, but which is accepted locally as the correct corner and whose location is perpetuated by such marks as fence-line intersections, piles of rock, and states or pipes driven into the ground, which have been recovered by field investigation.

INDIRECT MEASUREMENT – (SURVEY) - Determination of a distance using a method, i.e., triangulation or traverse, which employs both direct measurement and calculation. Also, determination of distance by use of photogrammetry, or timed travel of light or sound waves.

IN FEE – (LEGAL) - Ownership in land.

INFORMATIVE TRAVERSE – (PLSS) - A survey made to obtain topographic data or to define the present river bank in front of patented lands. In the second case the informative traverse is used to apportion the lands formed by accretion to the public lands.

INFRA – (LEGAL) - Below. Under. When used in text it refers to matter in a later part of the publication.

INFRARED IMAGERY - (MAPPING) - A recording in graphic form of radiated electromagnetic energy in the heat (infrared) range of the spectrum.


INGRESS – (LEGAL) - The right to enter a tract of land. In the law of riparian rights, the right of return to his land from navigable water which a riparian owner enjoys.

INGRESS, EGRESS AND REGRESS – (LEGAL) - These words express the right of a lessee to enter, go upon, and return from the lands in question.

INITIAL MONUMENT – (PLSS) - A physical structure which marks the location of an initial point in the rectangular system of surveys.

INITIAL POINT – (PLSS) - A point which is established under the rectangular system of surveys and from which is initiated the cadastral survey of the principal meridian and base line that controls the cadastral survey of the public lands within a given area.

INITIAL POINT OF A METES AND BOUNDS SURVEY – (SURVEY) - Also called “beginning point.” In a survey each angle point is monumented and assigned a number. The numbers are in series with number 1 at the initial point.

INLAND WATERS – (LEGAL) - Such waters as canals, lakes, rivers, watercourses, inlets and bays, exclusive of the open sea, though the water in question may open or empty into the ocean.

IN PRAESENTI – (LEGAL) - At the present time.

INSTRUMENT – (SURVEY) - An angle measuring device such as a compass, transit or theodolite.

INSTRUMENT (LEGAL) – A written document. A formal or legal document in writing, such as a contract, deed, lease, will, bond or other writing of a formal or solemn character, such as a document given as a means of affording evidence.

INTEREST – (LEGAL) -As applied to lands, “interest” means any direct or indirect ownership in whole or in part of the lands and resources of the lands. It includes any participation in the earnings therefrom, or the right to occupy or use the property or to take any benefits therefrom based upon lease or rental agreements, or upon any formal of informal contract with a person who has such an interest. It includes membership in a firm, or ownership of stock or other securities in a corporation which has such an interest.


INTERIOR ANGLE- (SURVEY) - An angle that is enclosed by two sides within a triangle or closed polygon.


INTERMEDIATE CONTOUR - (SURVEY) - A contour line drawn between index contours.


INTERPOLATION - (SURVEY) - Determination of an intermediate value between fixed or tabulated values from some known or assumed rate or system of change.

INTERPRETATION OF PLAT – (SURVEY) - Deductions which are based on symbols, bearings, areas and dates of approval shown on plats and which are used to determine the probable intention when information is missing or ambiguous, or when data shown on various plats needs clarification.

INTERROGATORIES – (LEGAL) - A set or series of questions drawn up in writing for the purpose of being propounded to a party in equity, a garnishee, or a witness whose testimony is taken on deposition. In taking evidence on depositions, the interrogatories are usually prepared and settled by counsel, and reduced to writing prior to the examination.

INTERSECTION – (PLSS, SURVEY) -1) The method of establishing the legal center of section and the centers of the various quarter sections. 2) The point at which a survey line passes through an object, such as a tree. 3) The point of crossing of two or more survey lines with each other, usually a junior line crossing a senior line. 4) The legal point of closing where a junior line closes on a senior (fixed) line. 5) The confluence of two or more streams of water. 6) The cutting or crossing in any combination of straight lines, curves, or semitangents to curves. 7) Area where two streets or roads intersect, generally including the space enclosed by the right-of-way lines as extended plus any transition curved boundaries.

INTESTATE – (LEGAL) - Without making a will. A person is said to die “intestate” when he dies without leaving a valid will to testify what his wishes were with respect to the disposal of his property after his death. The word is also used to signify the person himself, as “the intestate’s property.”

INTRALIMITAL RIGHTS – (MINE) - Rights extending downward within the limits of the claim to center of the earth. All surface rights and everything within the limits of his intralimital rights, except the extralateral rights attached to other veins apexing in another’s claim, belong to the owner of the claim. There are no rights to explore in another’s land or to approach the vein from any location other than the vein itself.

INURE – (LEGAL) - To take effect; to result. Provide service to the use or benefit of a person.


INVAR- (SURVEY) - An alloy that is of nickel and iron and has a very low coefficient of expansion.


INVERT- (CONSTRUCTION)- The low point on the inside circumference of a pipe.

INVESTIGATIVE SURVEY – (PLSS) - A preliminary survey made to determine the physical condition of existing Cadastral Survey evidence.


IONOSPHERE- (GPS)- A layer of atmosphere extending from 50 to 1000 kilometers above the Earth in which gas molecules are ionized by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The speed, polarization and direction of GPS signals are affected by the density of free electrons in this band of atmosphere.


IONOSPHERIC DELAY-(IONOSPHERIC REFRACTION)- (GPS)- The difference in the propagation time for a GPS signal passing through a vacuum as compared to passing through the ionosphere.

IPSO FACTO – (LEGAL)- By the mere fact itself.

IPSO JURE – (LEGAL) - By the law itself; by the mere operation of the law.

IRON POST – (PLSS)- The iron post adopted by BLM for monumenting the surveys of the public lands evolved after passage of the 1908 act which provided for the purchase of the 1908 act which provided for the purchase of metal monuments to be used for public-land survey corners wherever practicable. Specifications for the brass-capped survey marker call for zinc-coated pipe cut to 30-inch lengths. One end of the pipe is split and the two halves are spread to form flanges. The dimension from the top of the pipe to the top of the brass cap is from ¼ to ½ inch. The measurement from tip to tip of the flanges is specified at 4½ inches. The measurement from the foot of the flange to the top of the marker is 28 inches, more or less. The inside diameter of the pipe is 2 inches. The weight is approximately 9 pounds.

IRREGULAR – (PLSS)- As applied to units of the rectangular system, exceeding the rectangular limits.

IRREGULAR BOUNDARY – (PLSS)- Township or section lines not originally established as straight lines or which a retracement reveals as not having been surveyed as a straight line.

IRREGULAR BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT – (PLSS)- A modified form of single proportionate measurement used in restoring some lost corners.

IRREGULAR SECTION – (PLSS)- A section having two or more adjacent boundaries, as returned on the original survey, that are not within 0º 21’ of cardinal or exceed 25 links from 40 chains in measurement.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.




J-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

JACOB’S STAFF – (SURVEY) - A single staff or pole used for mounting a surveyor’s compass or other instrument. Used instead of a tripod, a Jacob’s staff is fitted with a ball-and-socket joint at its upper end, by means of which the instrument is adjusted to a level position; the foot is fitted with a metal shoe which facilitates pressing the staff firmly into the ground. many of the early land surveys in this country were made with surveyor’s compasses mounted upon Jacob’s staffs

JOINDER OF ACTIONS – (LEGAL) - This expression signifies the uniting of two or more demands or rights of action in one action or lawsuit.

JUDGMENT – (LEGAL) - In law an official formal decision given by a court, in another meaning, an obligation (as a debt) created by the decree of the court.

JUNIOR CORNER – (SURVEY) - A corner which is part of a survey occurring at a date subsequent to a prior (senior) survey.

JUNIOR LINE – Survey lines created at different times have different standings. The “junior” line would be the line created subsequent to an earlier line.

JUNIOR RIGHTS – Subordinate to the senior rights. The later patent issued usually has the subordinate right in a situation where a later survey is in conflict with an earlier survey. The first patent issued usually has the superior (senior) right and the second patent usually has the subordinate (junior) right, regardless of the dates of the original surveys.

JUNIOR SURVEY – A survey made subsequent to an earlier survey.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.



K-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

KALMAN FILTER- (GPS)- In GPS a numerical data combiner used in determining an instantaneous position estimate from multiple statistical measurements on a time varying signal in the presence of noise.


KNOWN ALL MEN – (LEGAL) - Used in conveyancing. A form of public address, of great antiquity, and with which many written instruments such as bonds, deeds and letters of attorney.


KINEMATIC POSITIONING- (GPS)- Relative positioning method where one receiver is stationary while another moves and collects previously unknown positions.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.




L-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

LS – Land Surveyor – (SURVEY) - If followed by a number it indicates the land surveyor’s registration number.


LPS - Licensed Professional Surveyor - (Survey) - The "professional" normally indicates a 4 year degree with "licensed" being regulated by peers and or the state.

LACHES –(LEGAL) Failure to do something which should be done or to claim or enforce a right at a proper time.

LAKES, MEANDERED – (PLSS)- From 1851 until the issuance of the Manual of Surveying Instructions, 1973, all lakes of the area of 25 acres or more were meandered. Now, all lakes of the area of 50 acres and upwards are meandered. Exceptions to this rule include artificial lakes and reservoirs (unless the instructions specifically provide for their meandering) and shallow or poorly defined “lakes” which are actually pools that collect due to permafrost and lack of drainage, or which are desert playas.

LAMBERT CONFORMAL CONIC MAP PROJECTION – (MAPPING) - A map plotting system in which points on the ellipsoid are mathematically projected onto a cone with its axis identical with the polar axis. The cone surface may be tangent to the ellipsoid or it may cut below the surface (secant) creating two parallels where the scale is exact. The secant form of this projection is the basis of State Plane Coordinate Systems where the zone extends more east-west than north-south.

LANDMARK – (SURVEY) - 1) Any monument or material mark or fixed object used to designate the location of a land boundary on the ground. 2) Any prominent object on land which can be used in determining a location or a direction. 3) A landmark decision; a judicial decision considered a turning point or highpoint of the era.

LANDS OPEN TO MINERAL LOCATION – (MINE) - Lands held by the United States for disposal under the land laws are open to mineral location. Land specifically withdrawn, such as national parks, national monuments, military reservations and Indian lands are not subject to location. Minerals found within a national forest are subject to location provided the discovery is such that it would justify an ordinary prudent person his expenditure of time and effort in developing a paying mine. Without the existence of commercial value, mineral claims within a national forest are not valid locations. Lands such as the beds of navigable bodies of water and land between high and low water mark are not subject to location under the Federal mining laws.

LANDS SUBJECT TO SURVEY – (PLSS)- In accordance with legal requirements, the public domain lands of the United States that have not yet been surveyed under the system of rectangular surveys are subject to survey. It is a well settled principle of law that the United States, through the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land management, has the authority and duty to extend the public land surveys as may be necessary. Lands erroneously omitted from earlier surveys are, for example, subject to survey.

LAND STATUS RECORDS – (PLSS)- Those records maintained by the Bureau of Land management, showing ownership of the public lands and the availability of the lands for use under the public land laws. The land status records include the Master Title Plat, Supplemental Master Title Plat, Use Plat, Historical Index, Control Document Index, Miscellaneous Document Index, Serial Register, Mineral Location and Contest Index, Tract Books, Plat Books, Patents, Deeds Name Index Card File, and the Working and Reference Records.

LAND SURVEYING – The practice of land surveying includes surveying of areas for their correct determination and description and for conveyancing, or for the establishment or reestablishment of land boundaries and the plotting of lands and subdivisions thereof.


LASER SCANNER- 3D LASER SCANNER- (SURVEY) - A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes objects or environments and collects data on its shape and appearance. The collected data can then be used to construct digital, three dimensional models. The laser beams are controlled directionally followed by a distance measurement at every pointing direction.


LATENCY- (GPS)- The time taken for a system to compute corrections and transmit the corrections in real time.


LATH- (INFORMATION STAKE)- (CONSTRUCTION)- A wooden marker on which the surveyor indicates in code the grades and distances needed by the excavation crew to complete the excavation of a project.

LATITUDE – (SURVEY) - 1) The distance on the earth’s surface, north or south of the Equator, expressed in either linear or angular measurements. 2) The north-south component of a traverse course.


LEAGUE – (SURVEY) - A marine measure of distance. In different times and countries it has varied from 2.4 miles to 4.6 miles.

LEASABLE MINERALS – (MINE) - Oil and gas; oil shale; coal; potash; phosphate; sodium; sulphur in Louisiana and New Mexico; gold, silver, and quicksilver in certain private land claims; and silica deposits in certain parts of Nevada.

LEASE – 1) A contract granting possession or control of real property for a determined period. 2) The act of the lessee in taking the lease.


LEAST COUNT- (SURVEY) - The finest reading that can be made directly on the vernier of a transit or micrometer of a theodolite.


LEAST SQUARES- (SURVEY) - A mathematical method for the adjustment of observations based on the theory of probability.

LEDGE – (MINE) In the Western States, it is synonymous with “lode” and “vein.”

LEFT BANK (River) – (SURVEY) - The bank on the left-hand side of a stream or river as one faces downstream.


LIFT- (CONSTRUCTION)- One layer of material or soil placed upon another.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION – (SURVEY) - A written statement recognized by law as to the definite location of a tract of land by reference to a survey, recorded map or adjoining property. The preparation of a legal description is a form of surveying and other than the citing of a lot or parcel for reference or identification purposes of a duly recorded plat, must be preformed by a licensed professional surveyor in the State of New Mexico. (12.8.2.7.A.(7) NMAC)

LEGAL SUBDIVISION – (PLSS)- The subdivision of a township, such as a section, half-section, quarter-section, quarterquarter or sixteenth-section, or lotting, including the lot, section, township and range numbers and the description of the principal meridian to which referred, all according to the approved township plat.

LEGEND – (SURVEY, MAPPING) - A description, explanation or table of symbols printed on a map or chart to permit a better understanding or interpretation of it.


LETTER OF MAP AMENDMENT (LOMA) - (FEMA-NFIP) - An official revision to a FEMA map done by describing the property affected. LOMA's are generally issued when properties have been inadvertently included in the floodplain.

LEVEE – (SURVEY) - An embankment alongside a river to prevent high water from flooding bordering lands


LEVELING- (SURVEY) - Determining the difference in elevation between points.


LEVEL SURFACE- (SURVEY) - A surface having all points at the same elevation and perpendicular to the direction of gravity.


LICENSE- EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- An easement is distinguished from a license because a license is a revocable right, privilege or permission to enter upon another's land.

LIEU LANDS – (PLSS) - Former public lands within specified limits (Indemnity Limits) which were granted instead of (in lieu of) areas intended to be granted but which were already patented or otherwise not available.

LIEU SELECTION – (PLSS) - An application to acquire title to public lands in exchange for which the applicant relinquishes his rights or title to other lands which he, for some reason, cannot or does not wish to acquire or hold.

LIMITED DEPENDENT RESURVEY – (PLSS)- A dependent resurvey limited to a certain portion of a township.

LIMITING BOUNDARY – (PLSS)- The boundary of lands actually surveyed. The term is usually used to describe a particular boundary in special cases. For example: a fictitious or grossly erroneous meander line may be held to be a fixed and “limiting boundary” of the lands actually surveyed; the exterior boundaries of an area to be independently resurveyed may be termed the “limiting boundary” of that project area.


LINE OF COLIMATION- (SURVEY) - A line which joins the optical center of the objective on a telescope and the intersection of the crosshairs.


LINE OF SIGHT- (SURVEY) - The line extending from an instrument along which distinct objects can be seen. The straight line between two points.

LINE TREE – (PLSS) - A tree intersected by a surveyed line, reported in the field notes of the survey, and marked with two hacks or notches cut on each of the sides facing the line. Originally, these trees were called “station trees,” and they are sometimes called “sight trees,” but since the line intersects them, the term “line tree” is preferred.

LINE TREES, Ownership of – Trees whose trunks are wholly upon the land of one owner belong exclusively to him. Trees whose trunks stand partly on the land of two or more abutting owners belong to them in common.

LINK – (SURVEY) - A unit of linear measure, one hundredth of a chain and equivalent to 7.92 inches (0.66 foot).

LIQUIDATED DAMAGES – (LEGAL) -An assessment of monetary charges determined in advance by contractual agreement as compensation for some breach of a contract.

LITTORAL – (LEGAL) - From the Latin “litus.” Of or pertaining to the shore, especially of the sea. A coastal region.

LITTORAL CURRENTS– (LEGAL) - The nearshore currents primarily due to wave action, e.g. longshore currents and rip currents.

LITTORAL DRIFT– (LEGAL) - The material moved in the littoral zone under the influence of waves and currents.

LITTORAL OWNER – (LEGAL) - One who owns land abutting a sea or ocean where the tide regularly rises and falls. In common usage, the word “riparian” is often used instead of littoral to include seashore boundaries as well as inland water boundaries.

LIVERY OF SEISIN – (LEGAL) - The appropriate ceremony, at common law, for transferring the possession of lands or tenements by a grantor to his grantee. This method of transfer is now replaced by granting of deeds and by Recording Statutes.

LOCAL CORNER – (PLSS, SURVEY) - Physical evidence accepted by local land owners to be at a corner of the public lands survey; a local point of control.

LOCATION – (MINE) - The perfecting of a right to possession of a mining claim for mining purposes. This includes the staking of the claim, sinking a discovery shaft, discovery of a valuable mineral, posting a notice of location and recording the claim. In a broad sense there are 4 types of location: lode or vein, placer, tunnel and mill site. In a secondary meaning, a location is the mining claim covered by an act of appropriate or location

LOCATION CORNER – (MINE) - A term applied to a position determined and marked by the locator (claimant) to distinctly and clearly define the boundaries of a mining claim on the ground, so that it can be readily identified.

LOCATION NOTICE – (MINE) - A public notice of location of a mining claim. The object of the notice is to inform the public. It must be filed and posted on the ground according to the laws of the state where located. Usually it sets forth the name of the locator, the date, the name of the claim, and a tie to a corner of the public land surveys. The essential requirement of a location notice, however, is that it must so describe and identify the location that it can be found by anyone interested in doing so, and that the boundaries may be readily traced on the ground.

LODE – (MINE) - Mineralized rock lying within boundaries clearly separating it from the neighboring rock and extending longitudinally in a continuous zone or belt. In mining law, and in popular usage in the Western States, it is synonymous with “ledge” and “vein.”

LODE CLAIM – (MINE) - A mining claim embracing public lands which contain minerals occurring in a vein or lode.

LONGITUDE – (SURVEY) - The distance on the earth’s surface, east or west of a defined meridian, usually the meridian of Greenwich (0o Longitude), expressed in either angular measure, such as 90o West Longitude, or in time, such as 6 hours West of Greenwich.


LOOP CLOSURE- (GPS)- A statistical procedure to evaluate the internal consistency of a GPS network.

LOST CORNER – (PLSS) - A corner whose position cannot be determined, beyond reasonable doubt, either from traces of the original marks or from acceptable evidence or testimony that bears on the original position, and whose location can be restored only by reference to one or more interdependent corners.

LOT – (PLSS)- A subdivision of a section which is not described as an aliquot part of the section, but which is designated by number, e.g., LOT 2. A lot may be regular or irregular in shape and its acreage varies from that of regular subdivisions. The term “Government Lot” is commonly used by persons outside the Bureau of Land Management in referring to such a subdivision of a section. “Lot” is also the name given individual parcels of recorded subdivisions of private tracts.

LOW-WATER MARK – (LEGAL) - The stage to which a river or other inland body of water recedes, under ordinary conditions, as its lowest stage or elevation. Low-water mark should not be used in reference to tidal waters.



M-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

MACHINE CONTROL- (GPS, CONSTRUCTION)- In civil engineering, machine control is used to accurately position earthwork machinery based on 3D design models and GPS systems, and thus aid machine operators to control the position of a heavy equipment (grader, bulldozer, backhoe, roller). Many machine control systems utilize the differential GPS system to improve the positioning accuracy.


MAGNETIC AZIMUTH (OR BEARING) - (SURVEY) - Azimuth referred to magnetic north or south


MAGNETIC DECLINATION – (SURVEY) - The bearing on a given date (reckoned east or west from the north branch of the celestial meridian plane) of magnetic north as determined by the positive pole of a freely suspended magnetic needle which is subject to no transient artificial disturbance.

MAGNETIC VARIATION – (SURVEY) - Regular or erratic change in magnetic declination. Not interchangeable with declination but old field notes use Var. as the declination of the compass.

MAP – (SURVEY, MAPPING) - A representation on a plane surface, at an established scale, of the physical features (natural, artificial, or both) of a part or the whole of the earth’s surface, by means of signs and symbols, and with the means of orientation indicated.


MAPPING ANGLE - (MAPPING) - The correction to be applied to geodetic azimuth before plotting an azimuth on a map projection.


MAP PROJECTION - (MAPPING) - A system of lines on a plane representing a corresponding system of imagery lines on a chosen datum surface; also, the mathematical concept of such a system. A projection consists of (a) a pattern of lines representing parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude, or (2) a grid.

MARGINAL DATA – (PLSS) - A memorandum in the margin of a cadastral survey plat. The memorandum is intended to correlate and consolidate information regarding the record of surveys as shown on the plat. Under the General landOffice, the practice was to show this data in box-tabulated form on plats of original surveys.


MAP SCALE - (MAPPING, SURVEY) - The relationship between a distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the earth. Map scale may be expressed as an equivalence, usually by different units or graphically in the form of a bar scale.


MARK- (SURVEY) - A call used to indicate that the listener should place a point on a hub, footing, monument, etc.

MARKETABILITY TEST – (MINE) - Used in determining whether or not a discovered mineral deposit is “valuable” under the meaning of the law, it is the test of whether or not the mineral can be extracted and marketed at a profit. It is a complement to and refinement of the “prudent man test.”

MARSH – (PLSS) - An area of low-lying, wet ground subject to frequent or regular flooding or ordinarily covered with water. Marsh vegetation is composed chiefly of reeds, grasses and grasslike plants. In Cadastral Survey usage the word “marsh” has usually been used to refer to coastal “salt marshes


MASK ANGLE- (GPS)- An elevation angle below which existing satellites are not tracked by the receiver.

MEAN BEARING – (SURVEY) - 1) The average (mean) of the forward and the back bearing of a straight line. 2) The average of the bearings of an irregular boundary whose courses are nearly equal in length. 3) The weighted average of the azimuths of an irregular boundary after conversion to an equivalent bearing. 4) The average of the bearings of opposite subdivision lines. 5) The mean of a series of bearings obtained by measurement.

MEANDER CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner established at the intersection of standard, township or section lines with the meander line near banks of navigable streams or any meanderable body of water.

MEANDER LINE – (PLSS)- the traverse run at the line of mean highwater of a permanent natural body of water. In original surveys, meander lines are not run as boundary lines. They are run to generally define the sinuosities of the bank or shore line and for determining the quantity of land in the fractional sections remaining after segregation of the water area.


MEAN ERROR - (SURVEY) - An ambiguous term sometimes used to denote average error, error of the mean, or root-meansquare error.

MEAN HIGH WATER – (LEGAL) - 1) The elevation of the water at the margin of the area occupied by the water for the greater portion of each average year, as determined by vegetative, on topographic changes. 2) The mean of all high waters are a considerable period of time, usually 18.6 or 19 years.


MEAN LOW WATER – (LEGAL) - The mean height of all low waters at a particular point or station over a considerable period of time. For tidal waters, the cycle of change covers a period of about 18.6 years, and the mean low water is the mean of all low waters for that period. For any body of water, it is the mean of all low waters over a period of time of such length that increasing its length does not appreciably change the mean.

MEAN SEA LEVEL – (LEGAL) - The average height of the surface of the sea for all stages of the tide over a 19-year period, usually determined from hourly height readings.

MEAN TIDE LEVEL – (LEGAL) - (Also called half-tide level) a plane midway between mean high water and mean low water. Because of the lack of symmetry of the tidal curve this is not the same as mean sea level.

MECHANICAL PHOTOTRIANGULATION – (MAPPING) - This method (also known as the analogue or instrumental method) of phototriangulation establishes positions and elevations by use of an instrument viewing a spatial model. Precise connections are made between successive models which in turn are tied to vertical and horizontal control. This method which, after adjustment, allows an accurately scaled representation of the project area to be depicted, has been used for several successful cadastral survey projects. However, due to the fact that the accuracy of the data obtained by use of the analytical process is usually of a higher order than that obtained by the mechanical methods.

MEDIAL – (SURVEY) - Situated in or pertaining to the middle; intermediate.

MEDIAL LINE – (SURVEYING) - The term refers to a particular line which must be determined by the consideration of various factors, or the weighing of evidence, as well as the use of measurement and/or calculation.

MEDIAN – (SURVEY) - Noting or pertaining to a plane dividing something into two equal parts, especially one dividing a thing into left and right halves. In geometry, a straight line from the vertex of a triangle to midpoint on the opposite side.

MEDIAN LINE – (SURVEY) - The “median line” of a body of water is a line, every point of which is equidistant from the nearest point on opposite banks or other reference lines. The median is a continuous line formed by intersecting straight line or curve segments. “Median line” may also refer to the average of the distances between non-parallel lines.

MEDIATION – (LEGAL) - The act of a third person who comes between two opposing parties in order to persuade them to compromise, adjust or settle their dispute.

MEDIATOR – (LEGAL) - A third person who tries to get two opposing parties to reach a compromise or otherwise settle their dispute.

MEDIUM FILUM ACQUAE – (SURVEY) - The geographic middle of a river supposed to divide it into two equal parts, without considering the channel or channels of the river. Identical with a median line, every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points of the baseline on the opposite shores.

MERCATOR PROJECTION - (MAPPING) - A map making system in which points on the ellipsoid are projected onto a cylinder whose axis is in the plane of the central meridian of the map and through the earth’s center. The meridians appear as parallel lines and parallels are at right angles to them. The scale at any point is the same north and south which is achieved by mathematical calculation of parallel spacing. Generally used for maritime and navigational purposes.


MEMORIAL – (SURVEY) - A durable article deposited in the ground at the position of a corner to perpetuate that position should the monument be removed or destroyed. The memorial is usually deposited at the base of the monument and may consist of anything durable, such as glass or stoneware, a marked stone, charred stake or a quantity of charcoal.

MERIDIAN – (SURVEY) - 1) A north-south line from which longitudes (or departures) and azimuths are reckoned; or a plane, normal to the geoid or spheroid, defining such a line. 2) A flag or sight near a survey camp used to test solar transit for adjustment.

MERIDIONAL LINE – (SURVEY) - A north-south line or a line along a meridian of longitude.

MESNE CONVEYANCE – (LEGAL) 0 Pronounced “mean.” An intermediate conveyance, one occupying an intermediate position in a chain of title between the first grantee and the present holder.

METES AND BOUNDS – (SURVEY) - A method of describing a parcel of land by citing the owners of abutting lands and describing the length of each course of a boundary as “along” some apparent line, such as, “along a stream” or “along the road.” In modern usage, a metes and bounds description includes the bearings and distances of each course.

METES-AND-BOUNDS SURVEY – A survey of an irregularly shaped tract of land, not conforming to the rectangular system of surveys.


METER - (SURVEY) - The new (1952) International Standard Meter is defined as 1,650,763.73 times the wavelength of krypton light where one foot equals 0.3048 meters.


MID-LATITUDE - (SURVEY) -1) The latitude of the midpoint of a survey line. 2) The average of the latitude values for the end points of a straight line or a geodesic.

MILE CORNER – (PLSS)- The “mile corner” of a state, reservation or grant boundary does not mark a point of a subdivision; it is a station along the line. Long usage has given acceptance to the term.

MILL SITE – (MINE) - Up to 5 acres of public land may be claimed for the purpose of processing minerals. Mill sites are limited to lands that do not contain valuable minerals.

MILL SITE ENTRY – (MINE) - A cash entry of nonmineral public lands which are to be used as a mill site for the reduction of ore in the development of a lode claim.

MINERAL EXAMINER – (MINE)- An employee of the Bureau of Land Management who, prior to patent, conducts a field examination to determine the validity, under the law, of a mining claim. To be a bona fide claim, for example, the discovered mineral deposit must be valuable

MINE- an excavation for the purpose of extracting mineral.


MINERAL LOCATION AND CONTEST INDEX – (MINE)- A component of the land status records; it is a listing by township and range of mineral location notices filed under special mining claim recording laws, abandonments and relinquishments of mining claims secured by the Government, and of actions initiated to determine the validity of mineral, agricultural and other claims on national resource lands.

MINERAL ADVERSE CLAIM – (MINE)- A notice of protest filed by a rival claimant against the approval of a mineral application.

MINERAL APPLICATION – (MINE)- An application to purchase public lands which are held as a mining claim or which are desired as a mill site.

MINERAL CLASSIFICATION – (MINE)-Classification of public lands as being valuable for a specified mineral (or minerals); also, the public lands so classified.

MINERAL INVESTIGATION – (MINE)- Synonymous with field examination.

MINERAL LAND ENTRY – (MINE)- Filing a claim to hold or purchase lands belonging to the public domain and valuable for the minerals they contain, implying a prior discovery of ore and the opening of a mine.

MINERAL LANDS – (MINE)- Public lands which have been classified as containing, or are known to contain, valuable minerals.

MINERAL LOCATION – (MINE)- A mining claim.

MINERAL MONUMENT – (SURVEY) - term formerly used; it has been discontinued.

MINERAL RESERVATION – (MINE)- A clause in a patent which retains minerals in Federal ownership.

MINERAL SEGREGATION SURVEY – (MINE)-The measurements and corner restorations needed to define the boundaries between a mineral claim and other public lands for administrative purposes. Even though it also defines the boundaries of the mineral claim, in whole or in part, that is merely incidental and does not confer any rights to the mineral claimant.

MINERAL SURVEY – (MINE)- A cadastral survey of a lode claim, placer claim or millsite with all its notes and plats. This type of survey is executed by a U.S. Mineral Surveyor for the purpose of marking the legal boundaries of mining claims on the public domain. The location and estimated value of mining improvements are returned by the survey but no reference is made to mineral deposits.

MINERAL, VALUABLE – (MINE)- A deposit of a mineral ore or substance which is useful in commerce or the arts, occurring in quantity and quality sufficient to justify its mining and removal for sale; also, any quantity of such ore or substance in a vein or lode, the size and continuity of which are such as to justify an ordinarily prudent man in the expenditure of his labor and means in an effort to develop a paying mine.

MINERAL WITHDRAWAL FOR CLASSIFICATION – (MINE)- A withdrawal of public lands which are potentially valuable for leasable minerals. The withdrawal precludes the disposal of the lands except with a mineral reservation clause unless the lands are found, upon examination or by other competent evidence, not to contain a valuable deposit of minerals.

MINE SURVEY – (MINE)- A survey to determine the positions and dimensions of underground passages of a mine; also of the natural and artificial features – surface and underground – relating to the mine. As cadastral surveys, they are made to detect, or determine the extent of, underground trespass


MINIMALLY CONSTRAINED- (NETWORK ADJUSTMENT)- (GPS)- A statisticalleast squares adjustment of all observations in a network with only necessary constraints used to provide a solution.


MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR SURVEYING IN NEW MEXICO- (LEGAL)- Issued by the New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors to define the types of surveying, and establish minimum requirements to govern the performance of surveying and other survey-related services by registered professional surveyors in New Mexico.

MINING CLAIM – (MINE) - A parcel of land probably containing valuable mineral in its soil or rock, and appropriated by an individual, according to established rules, by the process of “location.”

MINOR SUBDIVISIONS – (PLSS) - A quarter-quarter section subdivided into quarter-quarter-quarter sections (1/64 or 10 acre units), or aliquot parts as small as 1/256 (2.5 acres).

MISCELLANEOUS CONTROL – (PLSS)- A mathematical recovery of a lost corner by allowing every known corner within a reasonable radius which was tied to the missing corner to enter into the control, each control corner being given a weight inversely proportional to its distance from the missing corner.

MISCLOSURE – (SURVEY) - 1) The amount by which a series of survey measurements fail to yield a theoretical or previously determined value for a survey quantity; hence a measure of the accumulated errors and blunders in the work. Also termed “closing error,” or “error of closure.” 2) An error of closure in excess of specified limits, as in “out of limits.”


MISTAKE - (SURVEY) - A large difference from the true value of a measurement.

MONUMENT – (SURVEY) - A physical structure, such as an iron post, marked stone or tree in place, which marks the location of a corner point established by a Cadastral Survey. Objects, to be ranked as monuments, should have certain physical properties such as visibility, durability and stability, and they must define location without resorting to measurements. “Monument” and “corner” are not synonymous, although the two terms are often used largely in the same sense.

MONUMENT, LEGAL – (SURVEY) - The courts and the general public refer to “monument” as if the term includes such things as reference to an adjoining title, a plat, or physical evidence of a boundary, such as a fence. Occasional reference will be made to natural monuments which would more precisely be classed as topography.

MORE OR LESS – (SURVEY) - When used in connection with quantity or distance in a conveyance of land are considered words of safety or precaution, intended to cover some slight or unimportant inaccuracy. The same applies to the use of the word “about.”

MOUNDS AND PITS – (PLSS) - A system of witnessing corner stakes in prairie country.

MOVE – (PLSS) - A correction in position to be applied to a temporary stake so that the resulting point will be located at its proper position. Usually calculated as a distance north or south as well as a distance east or west, the plural is common, i.e.; the moves are 6.5 lks. south and 2.1 lks. east.


MUCK- (MINE)- broken rock in a mine.


MULTIPATH- (GPS)- The error that results when part of a GPS signal is reflected.

MUNICIPAL RESERVES – (PLSS)- Areas within a townsite which are reserved for the town. Areas within a townsite which are surveyed and set aside for the purposes of the legally incorporated or duly authorized association of the inhabitants of this town.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

N-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

NAD 83- (GPS)- The horizontal control datum for North America that is based on a geocentric origin and the Geodetic Reference System 1980 (GRS80) ellipsoid.


NAD27- (GPS) - The North American Datum of 1927 (NAD 27) is the horizontal control datum for the United States that was defined at a location and azimuth on the Clarke spheroid of 1866. The origin at was at the Meades Ranch. The geoidal height at Meades Ranch was assumed to be zero.


N.M.P.M.  New Mexico Principle Meridian.

NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


NADIR- (SURVEY) - The point directly under the observer. The direction that a plumb bob points.

NATIONAL FOREST – A reservation of a forest or watershed which is administered by the Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture.

NATIONAL FOREST HOMESTEAD ENTRY – (PLSS) - A homestead entry, not exceeding 160 acres, initiated under the Act of June 11, 1906 (34 Stat. 233, 16 U.S.C. sec. 506), which provided for the homesteading within National forests of public lands classified and listed as more valuable for agricultural than the forestry purposes. (Repealed October 23, 1962.)

NATIONAL FOREST HOMESTEAD ENTRY SURVEYS – (PLSS) - Under the Act of June 11, 1906 (34 Stat. 233, 16 U.S.C. sec. 506), surveys of homestead entries within national forests were performed, usually, by Forest Service surveyors under Special Instructions from, and subject to approval by the General Land Office. This Act was repealed Oct. 23, 1962 (76 Stat. 1157), and these surveys are no longer executed.


NATURAL GROUND- (CONSTRUCTION)- The original ground elevation before any excavation has been done.

NAVAJO MERIDIAN – (PLSS) - The principal meridian governing surveys in a small part of northeastern Arizona; it was adopted in 1869. Originally, it also governed surveys in a small part of northwestern New Mexico. Only a few townships governed by it were surveyed in New Mexico and no disposals based upon those surveys were made. The Commissioner of the General Land Office, by letter dated July 28, 1936, canceled the Navajo Meridian and the surveys based on it in the State of New Mexico.

NAVD88 - (GPS) - The North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) is the vertical control datum established in 1991 by the minimum-constraint adjustment of the Canadian-Mexican-U.S. leveling observations.


NAVIGABILITY, LEGAL CONCEPT OF – (LEGAL) - The doctrine laid down by the Supreme Court in The Daniel Ball, 10 Wall. 557 (1871), to wit: “Those rivers must be regarded as public navigable rivers in law which are navigable in fact. And they are navigable in fact when they are used, or are susceptible of being used, in their ordinary condition, as highways for commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in the customary modes of trade or travel on water.”

NAVIGABLE WATERS – (LEGAL) - Waters which afford a channel for useful commerce or travel. The beds of navigable bodies of water are not public domain and are not subject to survey and disposal by the United States. Under the laws of the United States the navigable waters have always been and shall forever remain common highways.

NEAP TIDES – (LEGAL) - Tides of decreasing range occurring semimonthly as the result of the moon being in quadrature; that is, when the tidal forces of sun and moon act at right angles to each other on the waters of the earth. Tides during these periods do not rise as high or fall as low as during the rest of the month.

NEW MEXICO PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN – (PLSS) - The principal meridian governing surveys in New Mexico and the southwestern part of Colorado; it was adopted in 1855.

NONIUS – (SURVEY) - A scale featuring concentric circles used in determining angles. It was named for a Portugese mathematician and geographer, Nunez (1492-1577). Later, the nonius was replaced by the vernier scale (named for Dutch mathematician Peter Werner who, in his writings, used the name “Pierre Vernier”). As late as 1879, in Germany, a vernier was called a nonius.

NONRESPONSIVE BIDS – (SURVEY) - Contract bids not conforming to the substance of the bid invitation are non responsive and may not be considered for award. The substance of the invitation includes the terms, conditions and specifications which affect price, quality, quantity and delivery terms.

NON RIPARIAN BROKEN BOUNDARY – (PLSS) - A colloquial term which refers to the meander lines along a water boundary. The water is the actual (riparian) boundary and the meander line is the representative (nonriparian) boundary.

NON RIPARIAN BROKEN BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT – (PLSS) - 1) A mathematical solution for restoring or determining the position of angle points of record courses by applying a correction to each record course based proportionately upon the length of the course. 2) The method generally used to mathematically close (balance) a figure in order to determine area. 3) May be referred to as the “Compass Rule

NON RIPARIAN MEANDER LINE – (PLSS) -Any meander line which is surveyed as a fixed boundary or is reestablished as a fixed boundary.


NORTH AMERICAN VERTICAL DATUM OF 1988 (NAVD 88)- (SURVEY) - A minimally constrained adjustment of North America the hold the height of the primary tidal benchmark of the new International Great Lakes Datum of 1985. The NAVD88 and the older NGVD29 have differences ranging from 140cm to +150 cm.

NOTCHES – (PLSS)- V-shaped indentations cut upon the exposed vertical edges of a stone monument where the vertical edges of the stone have been turned to the cardinal.




O-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

OBITER DICTUM – (LEGAL) - Also called “dictum.” That which is said in passing. Where the court, in rationalizing its position, uses language broader than is needed for disposition of the point at issue. If the court’s statement is merely illustrative or background material not required in the determination of the issues presented, it is within the category of obiter dictum.


OBLATE SPHEROID - (SURVEY) - The mathematical shape assumed by a homogenous rotating mass, used as an approximation of the earth’s shape.

OBLIQUE MERCATOR PROJECTION – (MAPPING) - A map plotting system in which points on the ellipsoid are mathematically projected onto a cylinder oriented tangent to an oblique line at the map center; used in one of the Alaska State Plane Coordinates systems.

OBLITERATED CORNER – (PLSS)- An obliterated corner is one at whose point there are no remaining traces of the monument, or its accessories, but whose location has been perpetuated, or the point for which may be recovered beyond reasonable doubt, but the acts and testimony of the interested landowners, competent surveyors, or other qualified local authorities, or witnesses, or by some acceptable record evidence.

OCCUPY – (SURVEY) - 1) To set a surveying instrument over a point for the purpose of making observations. 2) To take or enter upon possession of land.

OFFICIAL CADASTRAL SURVEY – (PLSS)- The public lands are deemed to be surveyed when the survey has been accepted and the plat thereof has been filed in the appropriate land office by direction of the Bureau of Land Management. No subdivisions of the public lands may be conveyed or in any way disposed of until so identified.

OFFICIAL SURVEY – (PLSS)- A public land survey which has the field notes approved, the plat accepted, and has been filed in the proper BLM land office after publication in the Federal Register, if necessary.

OFF-LINE CLOSING CORNER – (PLSS)- A closing corner monument that was not actually located on the line that was closed upon. Such a monument controls the direction of the closing line, but is not its legal terminus.

OFFSET – (SURVEY) - 1) Moving over to a parallel line in order to avoid an obstacle. 2) A process in the running of a parallel of latitude by means of a straight line with measured (offset) distances to the curve.


OFFSET LINE- (SURVEY) - A line that is close to and roughly parallel to the main line.


OIL WELL SURVEY- (Survey)- Supplemental Plats are required on all Federal Wells. The “Federal NTL-6 Regulations” and the “Surface Operating Standards for Oil & Gas Exploration & Development” outline the requirements for supplemental plats for wells on lands with Federal surface or mineral rights.

OMITTED LANDS – (PLSS)- Lands that were in place at the time of survey but are not shown on the original township plat, and which are so situated as to have been excluded from the survey by some gross discrepancy in the location of a meander line as given by the field-note record. This term is not applicable to areas where changes can be traced to erosion, accretion or changes in the water level subsequent to survey.

OMITTED LAND SURVEY – (PLSS)- The survey of substantial areas of lands fronting surveyed meanders of rivers or lakes, which after investigation are known to have been omitted from the original survey through gross error or fraud.

ONE-EIGHT (1/8) CORNER – (PLSS)- A one-sixteenth (1/16) section corner. The designation “1/8 corner” was used in some of the older subdivision-of-section surveys.

ONE THIRTYSECOND (1/32) CORNER – (PLSS)- A one-sixtyfourth (1/64) section corner. The designation “1/32 corner” was used in some of the older subdivision-of-section surveys, especially the 20 acre Indian Allotment surveys.


ON THE FLY- (GPS)- A process that resolves the carrier phase ambiguity while continuing to collect data.


OPEN PIT- (MINE)- a large excavation beginning at the surface.


OPTICAL PLUMMET- (SURVEY) - A special device attached to an instrument that allows the operator to sight and locate the instrument directly over a point below the instrument.

OPEN TRAVERSE - (SURVEY) - A traverse which does not close upon itself or another known point.


OPUS CITUM SUPRA – (LEGAL) - In the work cited above. Usually abbreviated “op. cit. supra” or “op. cit.”


OPUS-NGS- (SURVEY)- A service offered by the National Geodetic Survey a brance of (NOAA).This Online Positioning User Service (OPUS) provides simplified access to high-accuracy National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) coordinates. Upload a GPS data file collected with a survey-grade receiver and obtain an NSRS position via email.

ORDINAL NUMBER – (SURVEY) - A number designating the place (as first, second, third) occupied by an item in an ordered sequence.

ORDINARY HIGH WATER – (SURVEY) - When used in reference to tidal waters, synonymous with mean high water. When referring to inland streams and lakes it is the same as mean high-water.


ORE- (MINE)- a mineral deposit that can be mined at a profit; includes the mineral itself and the gangue.


ORGANIZED MINING DISTRICT – (MINE)- A section of the country usually designated by name and described or understood as being confined within certain natural boundaries, in which the precious metals (or their ores) are found in paying quantities, and which is worked therefore, under rules and regulations prescribed or agreed upon by the miners therein.

ORIGIN - (SURVEY) - The point in a system of coordinates which serves as an initial point in computing and where X = 0 and Y = 0.


ORIGINAL ENTRY – (PLSS)- When application to acquire title to public lands and the applicant is permitted to proceed with earning title to the land under the governing laws and regulations.

ORIGINAL SURVEY – (PLSS) A cadastral survey which creates land boundaries and marks them for the first time.


ORTHOMETRIC CORRECTION - (GPS) - A systematic correction which must be applied to a measured difference of elevation because level surfaces at different elevations are not exactly parallel.


ORTHOMETRIC HEIGHT- (GPS)- The vertical height from the geoid to the ground surface. GPS heights are ellipsoidal.


ORTHOPHOTOGRAPH - (MAPPING) - A photograph derived from perspective photographs and equivalent to a photograph made by orthographic projection. In a perfect orthophotograph, there are no displacements of images because of tilt or relief


OUT – (PLSS)- a measurement term used in some field notes and deeds in the early 1800’s, it is the equivalent of 5 chains. Tiffin’s 1815 instructions called for the use of “a two pole chain of 50 links,” so when the chainman was “out” of chaining pins he had covered a distance of 5 chains.

OUTBOUNDARES – (PLSS)- The township and range lines around the perimeter of a survey area, particularly the controlling lines around the perimeter of an independent survey.


OUTCROP- (MINE)- that portion of a mineral deposit appearing at the surface.

OUTKEEPER – (SURVEY) - On older style surveyor’s compasses, a scale numbered 1 to 16, with a pointer that was turned by a milled knob to keep track of the “Outs”; 8 Outs equal 40 chains; 16 Outs equal 80 chains

OUTLINES – (PLSS)- An obsolete term sometimes used in older manuals of surveying instruction to refer to township boundaries.

OUT OF LIMITS – (PLSS)- Exceeds linear and/or angular limits as set forth in the Manual of Surveying Instructions.

OVERLAP – (SURVEY) - Lands surveyed in conflict. A common area included in separate surveys. That portion of area which one survey extends over and covers a part of a different survey as is shown by the evidence on the ground.

OVERGROWTH – (SURVEY) - The growth of a tree as it heals over survey markings.




P-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

PC – Point of curve.

PCC – Point of Compound Curve

.

PE – Professional Engineer.


PS- Professional Surveyor

PI – In highway surveying, Point of Intersection of two tangents.


PARALLAX- (SURVEY) - The apparent movement of the crosshairs caused by movement of the eye.

PARENTHETICAL DISTANCE – (PLSS, SURVEY) - Distances noted on the plats in parentheses are those regular and fractional portions of lines constituting the boundaries of the quarter-quarter sections and fractional subdivisions bounded thereby. Parentheses are used where the record is not supplied by the field notes, indicating that the distance was not measured on the ground. The figures show what was used in the calculation of areas. The same lengths are to be adopted proportionately whenever there is a need for an establishment of sixteenth-section corners on the section boundaries, and for control points for the subdivision of sections. Also used on private plats to show recorded information.

PAROL (Parole) – (LEGAL) - Executed by word of mouth, or by writing not under seal. Also means a spoken promise. In its usual usage in criminal law; the promise of a prisoner to fulfill stated conditions in consideration of his release.

PAROL AGREEMENT – (LEGAL) - An oral agreement between the owners establishing the boundary dividing adjacent land.

PAROL CONTRACT – (LEGAL) - Any contract not of record or under seal.

PAROL EVIDENCE – (LEGAL) - Evidence gathered by testimony of witnesses. Sometimes “parole evidence.” A witness who gives verbal evidence concerning positive knowledge of the location of an original monument prior to its destruction is said to give “parol evidence.”

PARTITION LINE – (SURVEY) - A survey line which cuts off a required area of a given parcel of land.

PASSING CALLS – (PLSS) - Found frequently in cadastral surveyor’s field notes, they are calls for (references to) cultural or topographic features along a survey line. Passing calls are sometimes used to locate a line or to recover obliterated corners.

PATENT – (LEGAL) - A document by which the United States conveys, to those entitled thereto, legal title to some portion of the public lands.

PATENT, CURATIVE – (PLSS) - An instrument issued to correct a patent. Patents issued in error may be annulled. Patents obtained fraudulently may be cancelled. Patents with conditions may be amended by new patents without conditions. Such actions and documents are authorized only in special situations recognized by public land laws and agency regulations.

PATENT, TRUST – (LEGAL) - A trust patent vests title in the Bureau of Indian Affairs as trustee for an Indian. Upon termination of the trust status of the Indian, a patent issues conveying fee-simple title to the Indian.


P CODE- (PROTECTED CODE)- (GPS)- A binary code that is modulated on the L1 and L2 carrier.


PDOP- (POSITION DILUTION OF PRECISION)- (GPS)

PEDIS POSSESSIO – (LEGAL) - Actual possession of real property implying actual occupancy or enclosure and use.

PENULTIMATE – (LEGAL) - Next to the last. The next to the last member in a series, such as the text to the last paragraph in a letter or the next to the last syllable of a word.

PERCH – (SURVEY) - A unit of linear measure equal to 25 links or 16½ feet. Also termed a “pole” or “rod.” In land area, a square rod; 272.25 square feet or .00625 acres.

PERPETUATION OF CORNERS – (SURVEY) - Establishment of points or other evidence which preserves the location of a corner.

PER SE – (LEGAL) - Of itself; taken alone; unconnected with other matters.


PERSONAL PROPERTY – (LEGAL) - In a broad and general sense, everything that is the subject of ownership, excluding real property.

PHOTOGRAMMETRIC RESURVEY – (MAPPING) - A survey, using a system combining photogrammetry and resurvey methods to re-establish the evidence of a prior official survey.

PHOTOGRAMMETRIC SURVEY – (MAPPING) - An original survey in which monuments are placed at corner positions which have been pre-determined by photogrammetric techniques and equipment.

PHOTOGRAMMETRY – (MAPPING) - The science or art of obtaining reliable measurements by means of photographs.

PIN, CHAINING – (SURVEY) - A metal pin used for marking intermediate measurements on the ground. In “tally chaining” with a five-chain tape a set would consist of 9 pins.

PITS AND MOUNDS – (PLSS) - A system of witnessing public land survey corner stakes in prairie country

PLACE LANDS – (PLSS) - Lands granted in aid of a railroad company which are within certain limits on each side of the road, and which became instantly fixed by the adoption of the centerline of the railroad.

PLACER – (MINE)- An alluvial or glacial deposit containing particles of valuable minerals.

PLACER CLAIM – (MINE)- A mining claim located on the public domain for the purpose of placer mining. Under U.S. mining laws, mineral deposits not veins or lodes in place, are treated as placers so far as locating, holding, surveying, and patenting are concerned. Revised Statutes, sec. 2331 (30 U.S.C., sec. 35) provides that all placer-mining claims located after May 10, 1872, shall conform as nearly as practicable with the United States system of public land surveys and the rectangular subdivision of such surveys, and such locations shall not include more than 20 acres for each individual claimant (43 C.F.R. 3842.1-2(b)).

PLACER LAW OF 1897 – (MINE) - This law provided that petroleum lands might be entered and patented under the placer mining laws and led, eventually, to the leasing of public lands valuable for minerals.

PLACER LOCATION – (MINE) - A placer claim located and occupied on the public domain.

PLAINTIFF – (LEGAL) - A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a personal action and is so named on the record.

PLANE COORDINATES – (SURVEY) - In general, coordinates specifying the location of points on a plane. In surveying use, the “plane” is usually a projection of the earth’s surface such as a developed cone or cylinder.


PLANE SURVEYING- (SURVEY) - Surveying in which the curvature of the earth is not considered.

PLAT – (PLSS)- As used technically by the BLM, the drawing which represents the particular area included in a survey, such as a township, private land claim or mineral claim, and the lines surveyed, established, retraced or resurveyed, showing the direction and length of each such line; the relation to the adjoining official surveys; the boundaries, descriptions, and area of each parcel of land subdivided; and, as nearly as may be practicable, a representation of the relief and improvements within the limits of the survey.


PLOTTING- (SURVEY) - The transfer of survey data from field notes to paper.


PLUMB- (SURVEY) - The vertical direction. A line perpendicular to a horizontal plane.


PLUMB BOB - (SURVEY) - 1) This surveyor's dog. 2)The weight on a string to determine plumb.


PLUNGE- (SURVEY) - To reverse the direction of the telescope of a transit around the horizontal axis.

POCKET PARTS – (LEGAL) - Revisions prepared for bound law books to keep them current. The name comes from the fact that these supplements, usually in pamphlet form, are stored in a pocket inside the back cover of the volume undated.

POINT – (SURVEY) - A position or location in a reference system determined by survey


POINT CLOUD- (SURVEY) - A point cloud is a set of vertices in a three-dimensional coordinate system. These vertices are usually defined by X, Y, and Zcoordinates, and typically are intended to be representative of the external surface of an object.Point clouds are most often created by 3D scanners.

POINT OF DISCOVERY – (MINE) - The precisely indicated position at which a valuable mineral is exposed to view. In the absence of proof to the contrary, the discovery point is held to be the center of the vein on the surface.

POINT ON LINE – (SURVEY) - A stake or other object a surveyor has placed on a line for his convenience, such as for a back sight. In earlier times, under regulations found in various manuals of surveying instructions, surveyors were to set a Point on Line (POL) on top of ridges or spurs, at places where the line crossed trails or roads and at other like places. This was done to facilitate identification of the line. This type of point is now called a witness point.

POLE – (SURVEY)- Also termed “perch” and rod”; a unit of length in land measurement, equal to 25 links or 16.5 feet.


POSSESSION – (LEGAL)- Exercise of the right to use real property to the exclusion of others

POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE LAW – (LEGAL)-This adage is not to be taken as true to the full extent. It does, however, focus light on the legal truth that every claimant must succeed by the strength of his own title and not by the weakness of his antagonist’s. Prior to passage of statutory mining laws in this country, miners made this, quite literally, their rule.


POST-FIRM BUILDING- (FEMA-NFIP)- For insurance rating purposes, a post-FIRM building was constructed or substantially improved after December 31, 1074, or after the effective date of the initial Flood Insurance Rate Map of a community.


POSTPROCESSED- (GPS)- The observations of the base and rover do not communicate in real time. Each receiver's data is downloaded at a later time and the data is merged and locations are processed after the survey is completed.

PRECISION – (SURVEY)- A quality associated with the refinement of instruments and measurements, indicated by the degree of uniformity and repeatability of observations.

PREEMPTION ENTRY – (PLSS)- An entry of public lands for purchase under the preemption laws. These laws, now repealed, gave the entryman a preferred right to acquire the land by virtue of his occupation and improvement to it.

PREEMPTION RIGHT – (PLSS)- The right given to settlers upon the public lands of the United States to purchase such lands in preference to other persons. This right was granted under preemption laws now repealed.


PRESCRIPTION – (SURVEY) - The manner of acquiring adverse rights in another’s land. Prescriptive rights are similar to “adverse possession” but that term is used for title interest. “Prescription” refers to rights of use in land belonging to another, such as right of access, grazing rights or the right to divert flood waters.

PRESCRIPTIVE EXTINGUISHMENT OF EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- An easement may be extinguished as well as created by prescription.

PRESCRIPTIVE RIGHT OF WAY – (SURVEY)- A right of way based upon its adverse using extending to the limits of tradition and memory. In contrast, a right of way by dedication exists by the consent, either expressed or implied, of the owner of the land crossed. If a claim to a right of way is based upon the fact that the owners of a certain ranch have “always” driven across a portion of another ranch, that may be the basis for a “prescriptive” right of way.

PRIMA FACIE – (LEGAL) - Latin. At first sight; on the first appearance; on the face of it; a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary. Evidence good and sufficient on its face is prima facie evidence.

PRIMARY LIMITS – (PLSS)- In railroad and wagon road grants, the strip of land lying within a specified distance on each side of, and adjacent to, the right-of-way, within which (usually) every odd-numbered section was granted. Also the outside boundaries of this strip. The term “place limits” is sometimes used to indicate primary limits

PRINCIPALS MERIDIAN – (PLSS)- The meridian extended from an initial point, upon which regular quarter quarter-section, section and township corners have been or are to be established


PRIOR APPROPRIATION - (WATER RIGHTS) - The water law doctrine that confers priority to use water from natural streams based upon when the water rights were acquired. Water rights in Colorado and other western states are confirmed by court decree; holders of senior rights have first claim to withdraw water over holders who have filed later claims. (See also Water Right, Riparian Rights, Priority and Appropriation)

PRIVATE LAND CLAIM – (PLSS)- A claim to a tract of land which is based on the assertion that title thereto was granted to the claimant or his predecessors in interest by a foreign government before the territory in which it is situated was acquired by the United States; also, the land so claimed.

PRIVATE LAND GRANT – (SURVEY)- Land, title to which was conferred by a predecessor government and confirmed by the Federal government after the territory in which it is situated was acquired by the United States, i.e., the Spanish land grants in the Southwest.


PRIVATE RIGHT-OF-WAY- (SURVEY)- Is usually used to describe easements in which a particular person or particular description or class of people has an interest or right, as distinguished from the general public.


PROFILE- (CONSTRUCTION)- The graphical representation of the earth's surface preformed by leveling and by plotting.


PROFILE LEVELING- (CONSTRUCTION)- The process of determining the elevation of a series of points along a defined line.


PROLONGATION- (SURVEY)- The lengthening or extension of a line in the same direction.

PROPERTY – (LEGAL)- Used commonly to denote everything which is the subject of ownership. It extends to every species of valuable right and interest, and includes real and personal property.

PROPORTIONATE MEASUREMENT – (PLSS)- A proportionate measurement is one that applies an even distribution of a determined excess or deficiency of measurement, ascertained by retracement of an established line, so as to give concordant relation between all parts; that is, the new values given to each of the several parts, as determined by the measurement, shall bear the same relation to the record lengths as the new measurement of the whole line bears to that record. It should be noted that the rule is not ordinarily applicable in treating gross error or blunder, if the latter can be definitely segregated.

PRORATION – (PLSS)- Proportionate measurement, division, distribution or adjustment.

PROTECT THE PLAT – (PLSS)- The responsibility of the surveyor to examine, weigh and interpret the available evidence in respect to the execution of a resurvey, looking to the protection of the valid rights acquired under the original survey as shown by the plat. The bona fide rights of claimants are protected under the Constitution.


PROTRACTION – (PLSS)- The word means extension; prolongation. An example of its use would be the representation on paper of the fractional lots in the north and west tiers of sections within a township. These lines are not monumented on the ground. They are shown on the plat as protractions (dashed lines) indicating that they were not run in the field. The distances given are parenthetical until they are actually surveyed.

PRUDENT MAN TEST – (MINE)- Also called “prudent man rule.” In determining whether or not a mineral deposit is “valuable” under the meaning of the law, discovered deposits must be of such a character that a person of ordinary prudence would be justified in the expenditure of his labor and means, with a reasonable prospect of success, in developing a paying mine.

PUBLIC DOMAIN – (LEGAL)- The term applied to any or all of those areas of land ceded to the Federal Government by the Original States and to such other lands as were later acquired by treaty, purchase or cession, and are disposed of only under the authority of Congress.


PSEUDORANDOM NOISE- (GPS)- Digital data that appears to be randomly distributed but in fact can be exactly reproduced.

PUBLIC-LAND LAWS – (PLSS)- The laws which have been passed by the Congress concerning the administration of the public lands and the resources thereon.

PUBLIC LANDS – (PLSS)- (1) The term “public lands” means any land and interest in land owned by the United States within the several States and administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management, without regard to how the United States acquired ownership, except – (a) lands located on the Outer Continental Shelf; and (b) lands held for the benefit of Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos. Sec. 103(e) 43 U.S.C. 1702. (2) Includes a)the remaining public domain of the United States, b) reservations, other than Indian reservations, created from the public domain, c) lands withdrawn, reserved or withheld from private appropriation and disposal under the public land laws, including the mining laws, d) outstanding interests of the United States in lands which have been patented or otherwise conveyed under the public land laws, e) National Forests, f) wildlife refuges and ranges, and g) the surface and subsurface resources of all such lands

PUBLIC LAND STATES – (PLSS)- Those states created out of the public domain of the United States. They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California,Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana,Michigan,Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico,North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington,Wisconsin and Wyoming.


PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY- (SURVEY)- Is usually used to describe “highways” or “public roads” where every citizen has the right to their use.

Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

Q-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

QUADRANGLE – (SURVEY)- A four-sided figure, bounded by parallels. The dimensions are not necessarily the same in both directions.


QUADRANGLE MAP – (SURVEY)- A map of a four sided figure bounded by parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude.

QUALIFIED (as a witness) – (LEGAL)- Persons who are accepted by the court as being professionally skilled and knowledgeable in a particular field of study or science, as surveying.

QUANTITY GRANT – (PLSS)- A grant in connection with which the Congress specifies only the number of acres or the general type of public lands which are granted and which the grantee will secure by making selections from available public lands.


QUARRY- (MINE)- similar to an open pit, usually applied to building stone.


RAISE- (MINE)- a vertical or inclined shaft driven upward from an underground WORKING

QUARTER-SECTION CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner at an extremity of a boundary of a quarter section. Written as ¼ section corner, not as one fourth section corner.

QUARTER SECTION – (PLSS)- One-fourth of a section, containing 160 acres more or less.


QUARTZ CRYSTAL CONTROLLED OSCILLATOR- (GPS)- Receivers use a quartz crystal oscillator that provides a reference to which other frequencies can be compared.

QUASI – (LEGAL)- As if. Almost as if it were. Seen often in terms such as “quasi-legal” or “quasi-judicial.”


QUERY- (GIS) A question or request used for selecting features or records. A query often appears in the form of a statement or logical expression.

QUIET TITLE – (LEGAL)- In the legal proceeding called “action to quiet title,” the word “quiet” means to pacify; to render secure or unassailable by the removal of unsettling causes or disputes. Under this proceeding, the plaintiff’s title to land is established by bringing into court an adverse claimant and there compelling him either to establish his claim or be forever estopped from asserting it.

QUITCLAIM DEED – (LEGAL)- A deed in the nature of a release containing words of conveyance as well as release. It conveys any interest the maker may have in the property described without any representations or liability of any kind as to title conveyed or encumbrances that may exist thereon. A patent from the Government is a quitclaim deed.

Q.V. – (LEGAL)- An abbreviation of “quod vide,” used to refer a reader to the word, chapter etc., the name of which it immediately follows. Quod vide means which see.




R-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

RADIAN- (SURVEY)- The angle subtended at the center of a circle by an arc equal in length to a radius of the circle. It is approximately equal to 57 degrees 17 minutes and 44.8 seconds.


RAILROAD GRANT – (PLSS)- Usually, title to railroad grant lands passed under patent conveyances. These grants were made to railroads to aid in their construction, and covered designated sections within specified grant limits. Prior to 1875, railroad right-of-way grants conveyed a hybrid type of interest in the public lands. Laws authorized each grant and set forth the limits of the grant and the lands granted. In determining these limits, and ascertaining the interests obtained under the various grants, legal advice may be required.


RANDOM ERRORS- (SURVEY)- Errors that are accidental in nature and always exist in all measurements. They follow the laws of probability and and equally low or high.

RANDOM LINE – (SURVEY)- a trial line run from one monument toward the next monument so that the difference in latitude and departure between monuments may be determined and the true line may be computed. On the trial line, temporary intermediate corners are set. Offsets may then be computed from the temporary corners to the correct positions on the true line.

RANDOM AND TRUE – (SURVEY)- A survey method whereby a trail line is run to connect two monuments. With the data obtained while running the trial line, the true line is computed and rerun.

RANGE – 1) (PLSS)-A north-south tier of townships or sections. A range of townships is described by its relationship to the principle meridian. 2) In general, two points in line with the point of observation. 2a) The line defined by the side of a building or by a fence may be extended visually to its intersection with a surveyline; the point of intersection thus determined is said to be in range with the side of the building or with the fence. 2b) Boundary lines across water areas and boundary corners in water areas where permanent marks cannot be established are sometimes defined by intersection of range lines or by a range line and distance from a mark, the range lines being marked by permanent monuments on the land.

RANGE LINE – (PLSS)- A boundary of a township surveyed in a north-south direction.


RANGE POLE- (SURVEY)- A slender metal or wood rod that is used as a sighting object at the end of a line.

REACH (of a river) – (SURVEY)- A continuous unbroken portion of a river, particularly a straight stretch.

REAL ESTATE – (LEGAL)- An ownership interest in real property. In common usage it has come to mean the property itself.

REAL PROPERTY – (LEGAL)- Land and generally whatever is erected upon, growing on or affixed to the land.


REAL TIME KINEMATIC (RTK)- (GPS)- Determining relative positions between known control positions and unknown positions using carrier phase measurements while the survey is taking place.

RECESSION OF WATER – (LEGAL)- A legal expression that is applied to the gradual, natural and more or less permanent lowering of the surface elevation of a lake, or its complete disappearance, when referred to what at one time has been regarded as the normal (as at the date of an established survey).


RECIPROCAL LEVELING – (SURVEY)- Leveling across a wide river (or other barrier) by establishing a turning point at each bank of the river from one side and taking a backsight on the other to determine the height of instrument on theopposite side. By using the mean of the two HI determinations, the effects of curvature and refraction are compensated.


RECLAMATION SURVEY- (SURVEY)- A topographic survey of the restoration of land and environment both before, during and after the restoration process. It sometimes includes volume surveys to remove contaminated soils and restore topsoil. Landscape Surveys to replace native plants, grasses and ground covers are a part of the reclamation survey measurements.

RECORD – (SURVEY)- 1) The approved field notes and plat of a survey. 2) A value of area, bearing or distance from the approved field notes. 3) The act of recording a document as in a county. 4) All of the documents pertaining to title and boundaries including status, group files, county surveyor information as well as field notes and plats, when used as “to search the record.”

RECTIFICATION – (MAPPING)- The process of projecting a tilted photograph to produce the equivalent of an untilted photograph taken at the same exposure point except for effects of relief displacement.


RECTANGULAR LIMITS – (PLSS)- The amount by which a section, or its aliquot parts, may vary from the ideal section and still be considered regular. The rectangular limits are: a) For alinement, the section’s boundaries must not exceed 21’ from cardinal in any part, nor may the opposite (regular) boundaries of a section vary more than 21’. b) For measurement, the distance between regular corners must be within 25 links in 40 chains.

RECTANGULAR SYSTEM OF SURVEYS – (PLSS)- A system inaugurated by the Continental Congress on May 20, 1785,for the survey of the public lands of the United States. Its distinguishing characteristic is that in the main, and in all cases where practicable, its units are in rectangular form.


REDUCTION TO SEA LEVEL – (SURVEY)- The application of a correction to a measured horizontal length on the earth’s surface (at any elevation) to convert it in its projected or corresponding length at sea level.

REFERENCED – (SURVEY)- Bearings and distances from a monument to described or identified points to be used for future corner point determination are said to be “referenced.”


REFERENCE MARK- (CONSTRUCTION) A point or object which is measured to or from a monument for the purpose of being able to relocate the monument if it is lost.

REFERENCE MONUMENT – (SURVEY)- An iron post or rock cap accessory used where the point for a corner monument is such that, for practical purposes, a permanent corner monument cannot be established, or if monumented, a full complement of bearing trees or bearing objects are not obtainable.

REFERENCE STAKE- (CONSTRUCTION)- A stake that establishes the point from which measurements and grades are taken.


REFERENCING – (SURVEY)- The process of tying a survey monument to a supplementary mark or other natural or artificial features by distances and directions


REFRACTION- (SURVEY)- The bending of light rays as they pass through the atmosphere.

REGIMEN – (SURVEY)- The condition of a stream and its channel with respect to stability. A river or canal is “in regimen” if its channel has reached a stable form as a result of its flow characteristics.


REGISTERING (Deeds) – The main object of the registration or recording of deeds is to give constructive notice of such conveyance to purchasers and creditors. A deed may be valid between the grantor and grantee but will fail to give constructive notice to others if not so registered or recorded.

REGRESS – (LEGAL)- The right to return to land.

REGULAR CORNER – (PLSS)- Corners which are established or indicated by the survey according to the normal plan of the rectangular system.

REGULAR ORDER – (PLSS)- The prescribed procedure and method of establishing the rectangular system of surveys.

REGULAR SECTION – (PLSS)- A section whose boundaries, as returned on the original survey, are within 21’ of cardinal and with 25 links from each 40 chains in measurement

REGULAR SECTION SUBDIVISION – (PLSS)- The plan whereby a section is divided into the maximum number of aliquot parts.

REGULAR TOWNSHIP – (PLSS)- A township which is surveyed with four complete boundaries every part of which is within allowable limits and is subdivided into 36 sections according to the regular method of subdivision.

REHABILITATION – (PLSS)- The restoration of a corner monument or its accessories to original conditions but not the addition of new accessories or any altering of the record.


RELEASE OF EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- An easement may be extinguished by a release given by its owner to the owner of the servient land if both parties concur.

RELICTION – (SURVEY)- The gradual and imperceptible recession of the water resulting in an uncovering of land once submerged. Also known as dereliction.

RELICTION, ARTIFICIAL – (LEGAL)- A recession of the waters of a stream or lake uncovering riparian land where the recession was caused or induced by man’s activities.


RELIEF – (MAPPING)- Variations in the elevation of the ground surface.On a topographic maps, relief is depicted by contours elevations or other methods.

RELOCATION – (MINE)- The legal appropriation of a claim previously staked and held by either the relocator or another. The term implies that there was a former mining location which once had legal significance but has become open to forfeiture by abandonment, laches or the like. The burden of proof is on the relocator.

REMANDER – (PLSS)- To establish new meanders along a riparian boundary replacing previous meanders.

REMEASUREMENT – (SURVEY)- A term applied to a survey made for the purpose of verifying or determining distances as opposed to a retracement, which is done to verify or determine both bearings and distances. It also differs from a resurvey, which is the rerunning and remarking of lines represented in the field notes and on the plat of a previous official survey.

REMONUMENTATION – (SURVEY)- The construction of a corner monument (iron post, rock cap or concrete monument) at the position of an original monument as determined from proper measurement from its original accessories. New accessories may be added if required.

REMONUMENTATION PROGRAM – (PLSS)- A cooperative effort to remonument survey corners which are in danger of becoming lost

REMOTE SENSING – (SURVEYING)- Imaging or recording of physical phenomena at a distance by various methods.


REPRESENTATIVE FRACTION – (MAPPING)- A fraction expressing scale in which the numerator is unity and the denominator is the number that the unit distance must be multiplied by in order to obtain its distance on the ground in the same units. For example, 1/12,000. Also seen as 1:12,000 and 1-12,000.


RE-SECTION- (SURVEY)- The process of determining the location of an unknown point by measuring distances and angles to at least three known points.

RESERVATION – (PLSS)- A withdrawal, usually of a permanent nature; also, any Federal lands which have been dedicated to a specified public purpose.

RESIDUAL ERROR – (SURVEY)- 1) The total error of closure of a traverse. 2) In mathematics, the difference between as observed value of a series and its corresponding adjusted value. 3) Any remaining error after all adjustments are made.

RES JUDICATA – (LEGAL)- A matter settled by judgment. The rule of “res judicata” is that a matter once judicially decided is finally decided. The plea of “res judicata” is an “estoppel” against the losing party from again litigating matters involved in previous action, but does not have that effect in matters which occurred later and which were not at issue in the prior action.

RESTORATION – (PLSS)- 1) The purpose of a resurvey; the recovery of one or more lines or corner positions, or both, of a prior approved survey; or the replacement of one or more lost corners or obliterated monuments by approved methods, including the substantial renewal of one or more monuments, as required for the purpose of a survey. 2) A revocation of a withdrawal which also effects the opening of the public lands in the withdrawal. Also, an action which returns ceded Indian lands to tribal ownership

RESTORATION OF MEANDERS – ( PLSS)- The reestablishment of original meanders.


RESTRICTIVE COVENANT EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- Covenants that limit the manner in which one may use land, do not create true easements, but only rights in the nature of servitudes or easements.

RESURVEY – (PLSS)- A term applied to the reestablishment or restoration of land boundaries and subdivisions by the rerunning and remaking of the lines that were represented in the field note record and on the plat of the previous official survey. This includes, as in the original survey, a field note record of the retracement data, observations, measurements and monuments descriptive of the work performed, and a plat that represents such resurvey, all subject to the approval of the directing authority. The above definition is intended or implied unless modified as in an Independent Resurvey or in some other appropriate manner. The adjective “dependent” applied to the term “resurvey” is for emphasis, and specifically to suggest the recovery and restoration of the prior official survey.


RETICLE – (SURVEY)- A system of wires, hairs, threads, etched lines, or the like, placed in a telescope perpendicular to its axis and at its principal focus, to define the line of sight of the telescope, to permit specific sightings to be made on atarget.

RETRACEMENT – (PLSS)- A survey made to ascertain the direction and length of lines and to identify monuments and marks of an established prior survey. Recovered corners are rehabilitated, but lost corners are not restored and lines through timber are not reblazed.

RETURNED – (PLSS)- Areas and/or boundaries of the public lands which are described in the approved field notes and appear on the accepted plat of an official survey are said to be “returned.”

RETURNS – (PLSS)- Official reports. In cadastral survey parlance, the “returns” are the field notes, report and approved plat of a survey.

REVERSION CLAUSE – (PLSS)- A clause in an order of withdrawal providing that the lands shall revert to their former status after they have served the purpose for which they are withdrawn; also, a clause in a patent providing that title to the lands shall revert to the United States upon failure of the patentee to use the lands for the purposes stated in the patent.


REVERSION OF EASEMENT- (SURVEY)- When easements are terminated they revert back to the land from which they were taken.


REVISION – (SURVEY)- The process of updating a map, plat or survey to reflect current field status of an area or to improve accuracy.

REVOCATION – (LEGAL)- Generally, an action which cancels a previous official act; specifically, an action which cancels a withdrawal.


RHUMB LINE – (SURVEY)- A line on the surface of the earth making the same angle with all meridians; a loxodrome or loxodromic curve spiraling toward the poles in a constant true direction. Parallels and meridians, which also maintain constant true directions, may be considered special cases of the rhumb line.

RIDGE TOP – (SURVEY)- The highest part of a range of hills or mountains; an elongated crest or a linear series of peaks or crests. The highest elevations of a divide or the top of a ridge are often used for boundaries.


RIGHT ANGLE PRISM – (SURVEY)- A hand tool that defines a 90 degree line of sight by means of a pentaprism.

RIGHT BANK (River) – (SURVEY)- The bank on the right-hand side of a stream or river as one faces downstream.

RIGHT LINE – (PLSS)- An obsolete term for “True Line” or for a straight line between corners. The term is found in Manuals of Surveying Instruction as recently as 1894.

RIGHT OF WAY – (SURVEY)- The legal right to cross the lands of another. Also used to indicate the strip of land for a road, railroad or power line. In BLM, a permit or an easement which authorizes the use of public lands for certain specified purposes, commonly for pipe lines, roads, telephone lines or power lines. Also, the lands covered by such an easement or permit.


RIGHT OF WAY LINE- (SURVEY)- Is the line at the edge of an easement, defining its extent. Generally there are two, one on either side.


RIGHT OF WAY SURVEY- (SURVEY)- The boundary surveying of right of way for acquisition or for locating existing right of way.

RIPARIAN – (LEGAL)- From the Latin “ripa” meaning river bank.

RIPARIAN BOUNDARIES – (SURVEY)- Water boundaries, or boundaries formed by a river, lake or the sea. The general rule is that riparian boundaries shift with changes due to accretion or erosion but retain their original location if brought about by avulsion or by artificial causes.


RINEX (RECEIVER INDEPENDENT EXCHANGE FORMAT)- (GPS)- A GPS data format that allows interchangeable data between dissimilar receiver models.

RIPARIAN LANDS – (SURVEY)-In strict interpretation, lands bordering on a river. The term “riparian” is also used as relating to the shore of the sea or other tidal water, or of a lake or other considerable body of water not having the character of a watercourse.

RIPARIAN LAW – (LEGAL)- The branch of the law which deals with the rights in land bordering on a river, lake or sea.


RIPARIAN RIGHTS – (LEGAL)- The rights of an owner of land bordering on a river, lake, bayou, or sea which relate to the water (its use), ownership of the shore, right of ingress and egress, accretions, etc.

ROD – (SURVEY)- One rod equals 16.5 feet or 25 links. Also termed “perch” or “pole” in older surveys


ROD LEVEL – (SURVEY)- A spirit level attached to a leveling rod to indicate when the rod is vertical.

ROOD – (SURVEY)- A square measure equal to ¼ acre or 40 sq. rods. The term rood was sometimes used also for a linear measure varying locally from 5½ yd.


ROOF- (MINE)- the ceiling of a working, as the back of a drift.


ROOT MEAN SQUARE ERROR – (SURVEY)- The square root of the sum of the squares of individual errors (deviations from the mean) divided by the number of errors.


ROUNDOFF – (SURVEY)- The addition or subtraction of a small amount (one-half or less in terms of the last retained significant figure) to reduce the number of significant digits in a computed or measured quantity.


ROUTE SURVEY- (SURVEY)- The establishment of control and construction stakes for the survey of a transportation corridor.

RULE OF THALWEG – (SURVEY)- In river boundaries, the rule which holds that where a navigable river separates two nations, the middle of the main channel is the boundary between them. The rule of thalweg has also been applied to other boundaries where the boundary is described as being the “middle (or center) of the main channel” of a navigable river.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

S-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

SAG CORRECTION – (SURVEY) - The difference between the effective length of a tape when supported continuously throughout its length and when supported only at the ends.


SCALE FACTOR – (SURVEY) - In the State coordinate systems scale factors are applied to geodetic lengths to obtain grid lengths.


SCHOOL LANDS – (PLSS) - Sometimes referred to as “school sections” they are the lands included in a grant in place, or a grant in praesenti, to a State in support of common schools. Under the Ordinance of May 20, 1785, section 16 (called Lot16 in the Ordinance) in each township was set aside for the maintenance of public schools. In 1850 this was changed to sections 16 and 36. In Arizona, New Mexicoand Utah, sections 2, 16, 32 and 36 were granted.

SCREE SLOPE – (MINE) - A steep slope formed of rocky material with a marked tendency to creep or slide.

SCRIBE – (SURVEY) - A hand tool used by surveyors to inscribe the prescribed markings on bearing trees.


SCRIVENER'S ERROR - (LEGAL) - A legal principle that a map-plat-drafting or typographical error (Typo) in a written document may be corrected by oral evidence if the evidence is clear, convincing, and precise. On a map-plat-drafting redundant evidence may clarify the intended meaning.


SEAL – (SURVEY) - In law, a particular sign, made to attest in the most formal manner, the execution of a document or instrument.


SECANT – (SURVEY) - 1) A line that cuts a geometric curve or surface at two or more points. 2) A trigonometric function of an angle.

SECANT METHOD – (PLSS) - A method for laying off a parallel of latitude in Public Lands surveying.

SECTION – (PLSS) - The unit of subdivision of a township with boundaries conforming to the rectangular system of surveys, nominally one mile square, containing 640 acres.

SECTIONAL CORRECTION LINE – (PLSS)- A latitudinal section line run to rectify a defective latitudinal governing boundary. It is run on cardinal bearing to intersect the opposite controlling boundary where a closing corner is established.

SECTIONAL GUIDE MERIDIAN – (PLSS)- A meridional section line run to rectify a defective meridional governing boundary. It is run on cardinal bearing to intersect the opposite controlling boundary where a closing corner is established.

SECTION CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner at the extremity of a section boundary.

SECTION, HALF – (PLSS)- Any two quarter sections within a section which have a common boundary; usually identified as the north half, south half, east half, or west half of a particular section.

SECTION, QUARTER-QUARTER – (PLSS)- One of the alquot parts of a quarter section. Normally it is a quadrangle measuring approximately ¼ mile on each side and containing approximately 40 acres.

SELECTION – (PLSS) - In general, an application to acquire title to public lands which is submitted by an applicant who acquired the right to apply for such lands by receipt of a grant, by surrender of his own lands in an exchange, by relinquishment of his rights to other lands (lieu selection), by surrender of scrip or by similar means.

SEMITANGENT – (SURVEY) - The distance from the point of curvature or point of tangency to the point of intersection of a highway curve.

SENIOR CORNER – (SURVEY) - A point established and monumented by an approved prior survey.

SENIOR LINE – (SURVEY) - Survey lines created at different times have different standings. The “senior” line would be the line which was surveyed and approved first.


SENIOR RIGHTS – (LEGAL) - The rights which take precedence. The first patent issued usually takes precedence in a situation where a later survey is in conflict with an earlier survey. The first patent issued usually has the superior (senior) right or title regardless of the dates of the surveys.

SENIOR SURVEY – (SURVEY) - The oldest of two or more surveys which fixed the position of the line and is controlling unless officially superseded by a subsequent survey.


SERVITUDE-EASEMENT- (LEGAL)- A servitude is the term used in civil law to express the idea conveyed by the word easement, and may be defined as a right of the owner of one parcel of land to use the land of another for a special purpose .

SHAFT – (MINE)- In mining, an opening made at the surface and extending downward into the earth vertically.


SHAPEFILE- (GIS) A format for storing the location, shape, and attribute information of geographic features.


SIDESHOT- (SURVEY) - A reading to a point that is not part of the main survey.

SIGHT TREE – (PLSS) - Same as Line Tree, or on older surveys, Station Tree

SINGLE PROPORTIONATE MEASUREMENT (also called “two-way” proportion) – (PLSS)- A method of proportioning measurement in the restoration of a lost corner whose position is determined with reference to alinement in one direction. Examples of such corners are – quarter-section corners on the line between two section corners, all corners on standard parallels, and all intermediate positions on any township boundary line. The ordinary field problem consists of distributing the excess or deficiency between two existent corners in such a way that the amount given to each interval shall bear the same proportion to the whole difference as the record length of the interval bears to the whole distance. After having applied the proportionate difference to the record length of each interval, the sum of the several parts will equal the new measurement of the whole distance.

SITE – (SURVEY) - A parcel of ground set apart for a specific use. The word itself does not necessarily imply definite boundaries.

SIXTEENTH-SECTION CORNER – (PLSS)- Also termed “quarter-quarter section corner.” A corner at an extremity of a boundary of a quarter-quarter section; midpoint between or 20 chains from the controlling corners on the section or township boundaries. Written as 1/16 section corner.


SKIP- (MINE)- an ore bucket used to hoist ore and muck in a shaft


SLOPE- (CONSTRUCTION)-The inclined surface of the ground, excavation or embankment.

SLOPE CHAINED – In some of the older surveys the chaining (measuring) was done on the slope but the distances measured were not always reduced to the horizontal equivalent and the slope distance was entered in the field note record. When this systematic error is detected during a retracement cadastral surveyors refer to the line as having been “sloped chained.”

SLOPE CHAINING – The process of direct measurement of an inclined distance and vertical angle for reduction to its horizontal equivalent.


SLOPE STAKE- A stake set at the point where the design slope meets the original ground.

SMALL-HOLDING CLAIM ENTRY – (PLSS)- An entry in connection with which the entryman and his predecessors-ininterest maintained continuous, adverse, actual, bona fide possession of public lands in the Southwest for at least 20 years prior to cadastral survey of the lands involved (acts of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 861; and June 15, 1922, 42 Stat.650).


SMELTING- (MINE)- the reduction of metals from the ore in a furnace.

SNOW BLAZE – (SURVEY) - In regions subject to heavy snowfall it is desirable survey practices to make a small additional blaze at a height of 6 or 8 feet above the ground on tree monuments and bearing trees to attract attention to them during the winter.

SOLAR ATTACHMENT – (SURVEY) - An auxiliary device mounted on a surveyor’s instrument which mechanically solves the pole-zenith-sun spherical triangle. When the sun’s declination, the latitude of the station and hour angle of the sun are correctly set off on the solar attachment, the instrument on which it is mounted may readily be oriented to the astronomic meridian.

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS – (PLSS)- The written statement containing the detailed specifications for every cadastral survey assignment.

SPECIAL MEANDER CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner established at: 1) The intersection of a surveyed subdivision-of-section line and a meander line; 2) The intersection of a computed center line of a section and a meander line. In the latter case the center line of the section is calculated and surveyed on a theoretical bearing to an intersection with the meander line of a lake (over 50 acres in area) which is located entirely within a section.

SPECIAL SURVEY – (PLSS)- A cadastral survey that involves unusual application of, or departure from, the rectangular system. They often carry out the provisions of a special legislative act and include such work as small tract surveys; townsite survey; island and omitted land surveys; homestead, homesite, trade and manufacturing site surveys; alsothe survey and resurvey of portions of sections.


SPHERICAL COORDINATES - (sURVEY) - Pairs of angular values such as latitude and longitude or right ascension and declination which locates points on a sphere in reference to fixed, or defined, great circles.

SPHEROID – (SURVEY) - Any figure differing but little from a sphere. In geodesy, a mathematical figure closely approaching the geoid in form and size.

SPIRIT LEVELING – (SURVEY) - The determination of elevations by use of a leveling rod and an instrument incorporating a spirit level to establish a horizontal line of sight; the term has now been broadened to include leveling by means ofother types of precise levels, such as an automatic level.


SPOT ELEVATION (USGS) – (SURVEY) - An elevation shown on a topographic map to supplement the information shown by contour lines and bench marks.


SQUATTER’S RIGHTS – (PLSS) - An asserted right to occupy public lands by virtue of occupancy.


STADIA- (SURVEY) - A method of measurement using the optics of an instrument. The intercept between the stadia wires on an instrument that is calculated and used to determine distance.


STAKED SURVEY - (SURVEY)- A term for Boundary Survey that is a re-monumentation of corners of a tract, shown on a recorded plat, where some of the existing corners of the tract are recovered, whose measured dimensions on the ground are reasonably close to the record dimensions.

STANDARD – (SURVEY) - In cadastral survey slang, an ordinary steel pocket tape marked in chains or feet. In earlier surveyor usage, “standard” referred to a standard length against which the old-style survey chain was checked for accuracy.

STANDARD CORNER – (PLSS) - A senior corner on a standard parallel or base line.


STANDARD DEVIATION- (SURVEY) - The indication of dispersion of random errors in measurements of the dame quantity. The less dispersion then the smaller the standard deviation.


STANDARD ERROR – (SURVEY) - Also standard deviation. The root-mean-square value based on the differences between the average error and the individual errors of a set. It is a measure of the precision of a single observation.


STANDARD PARALLEL – (PLSS)- Also called “correction line.” A line extended east or west from the principal meridian, usually at intervals of 24 miles north and south of the base line, along a parallel of latitude. Standard parallels are established to correct for the convergence of range lines and to maintain a workable adherence to the requirement that each township be 6 miles square. They are surveyed in the manner prescribed for the survey of the base line.

STANDARD PARALLEL, AUXILIARY – (PLSS)- Where standard parallels have been placed at intervals exceeding 24 miles (under practice permissible prior to the issuance of the 1881 Manual of Surveying Instructions which specified 24 mile tracts), and conditions require additional standard lines


STANDARD POSITIONING SERVICE (SPS)- (GPS)- positioning accuracy using pseudorange measurements from a single frequency C/A code receiver for the civilian users.

STARE DECISIS – (LEGAL) - To abide by, or adhere to, decided cases. It is under the policy of “stare decisis” that courts stand by precedent and do not disturb a settled point. It is the doctrine which states that when the court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases where facts are substantially the same.

STATE COORDINATE SYSTEMS – (SURVEY) - The plane-rectangular coordinate systems established by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, one or more for each state in the United states, used for defining positions in terms of plane-rectangular (x and y) coordinates.

STATE PLANE COORDINATE SYSTEMS – (SURVEY) -The plane-rectangular coordinate systems established by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, one for each State in the Union, certain territories and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, used for defining positions of geodetic stations in terms of plane-rectangular (x and y) coordinates. The two principal systems in use in the United States are the Lambert Conformal Conic map projection and the Transverse Mercator map projection. See OBLIQUE MERCATOR PROJECTION.


STATIC SURVEY- (GPS)- A method where at least two stationary receivers simultaneously collect data from the same constellation for a long period of time.


STATION- (CONSTRUCTION) - A point whose location is route surveying is described by its total distance from the start of the project. Generally stated in terms of 100-foot intervals. Also, a definite point on the surface whose location has been determined by survey measurements.


STEREOSCOPE – (MAPPING) - An optical instrument used for viewing two properly related photographs simultaneously to obtain the mental impression of a three-dimensional model.


STEREOTRIANGULATION – (MAPPING) - A triangulation procedure that uses a stereoscopic plotting instrument to obtain the successive orientations of the stereoscopic pairs of photographs into a continuous strip.

STICK – (PLSS) - A measurement term used in some field notes and deeds in the early 1800’s, a stick is ½ chain or 2 poles (rods). It is the point where, in the use under Tiffin’s 1815 instructions of “a two poles chain of 50 links,” a chain man called out “stick” to be replied with “stuck.”

STONE BOUND – (SURVEY) - A substantial stone post set into the ground with its top end approximately flush with the ground surface. Used to mark accurately and permanently the important corners of a land survey.

STOPE – (MINE)- An underground excavation in which ore is mined, usually by working from below.

STRADDLE STAKES – (SURVEY) - In determining the point of intersection of two lines, stakes are usually lined in on both sides of the point of intersection. Since they straddle the point, surveyors call them “straddle stakes.”

STREET – (SURVEY) - Any public thoroughfare (street, avenue, boulevard, or park) or space more than 20 ft wide which has been dedicated or deeded to the public for public use.


STRIKE- (MINE)- the horizontal direction of a vein.


STRING LINE- (CONSTRUCTION)- A nylon line, strung tightly between supports, used to indicate both direction and elevation for checking grades or deviations in slopes or rises.

STRONG BEARING – (SURVEY) - A survey slang term for a bearing which departs markedly from cardinal. A bearing of 2 or more degrees from cardinal may be considered a “strong” bearing. “Heavy bearing” is used synonymously.


STULL- (MINE) a timber in a mine, usually a post.


SUBBASE- (CONSTRUCTION)- A layer of material between the subgrade and the base. It is usually a larger aggregate.


SUBGRADE- (CONSTRUCTION)- That part of the dirt roadbed on which subbase, base, pavement or any other material is places.

SUBDIVISION – (PLSS)- (verb) 1) Subdivision of a township into sections. 2) Subdivision of a section into half-sections, quarter-sections, sixteenth-sections or sixty-fourth-sections, or into lots, according to the Manual of Surveying Instructions. 3) The process of surveying such subdivisions. 4) In the private practice of land survey, subdivision is the division of an area into lots, streets, rights-of-way, easements and accessories, usually according to State law and local regulations – (noun) A particular aliquot part, lot, or parcel of land described according to the official plat of its cadastral survey.

SUBDIVISION-OF-SECTION SURVEY – (PLSS)- A survey which subdivides a previously surveyed section into the required aliquot parts or lots, using methods which are legally prescribed

SUBDIVISION, SMALLEST LEGAL – (PLSS)- For general purposes under the public-land laws, a quarter-quarter section or one lot. Under certain of these laws and under special conditions, applicants, claimants, etc., can select subdivisions smaller than a quarter-quarter section or lot.


SUMMIT- (CONSTRUCTION)- The highest point of any area or grade.


SUPER- (CONSTRUCTION)- A continuous slope in one direction on a road with no crown.

SUPPLEMENTAL PLAT – (PLSS)- A plat prepared entirely from office records designed to show a revised subdivision of one or more sections without change in the section boundaries and without other modification of the record Supplemental plats are required where the plat fails to provide units suitable for administration or disposal, or where a modification of its showing is necessary. They are also required to show the segregation of alienated lands from public lands, where the former are included in irregular surveys of patented mineral or other private claims made subsequent to the plat of the subsisting survey, or where the segregation of the claims was overlooked at the time of its approval

SURFACE RIGHTS – (LEGAL) - All rights in the land excepting the oil, gas and mineral rights to underground deposits.


SURFACE- (CONSTRUCTION)- The uppermost layer of material placed on the traveled way or shoulder of a road. Also pavement.

SURVEY – 1) The plat and the field-note record of the observations, measurements, and monuments descriptive of the work performed. Occasionally used as implying that the official plat is “The Survey.” Commonly, any survey but, specifically, an original survey. 2) The process of recording observations, making measurements, and marking the boundaries of tracts of lands.


SURVEYING- The art and science of determining the relative position of points on, above, or beneath the surface by measurement of angles distances and elevations.


SWALE- (CONSTRUCTION)- A shallow dip in a surface, such as a parking lot, made to allow for the passage of water.

SWAMP – (SURVEY) - 1) Low lying land saturated with moisture and overgrown with vegetation but not covered with water. 2)Land at elevations below the upland such as would be wet and unfit for agriculture without construction of artificial drainage.


SWEDES- (CONSTRUCTION)- A method of setting grades at a center point by sighting across the tops of three lath. Two lath are placed at a known correct elevation and the third is adjusted until it is at the correct location.


SYSTEMATIC ERROR- Those errors that occur in the same magnitude and the same sign for each measurement of a distance, angle, or elevation. The error can be eliminated by mechanical operation of the instrument or by mathematical equations.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

T-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

TACHYMETRY, TACHEOMETRY – (SURVEY) - Surveying method used to denote the procedures for obtaining horizontal distances and differences in elevation by indirect methods, which are based on the optical geometry of theinstruments employed. Sometimes referred to an optical distance measurement, telemetry, or stadia.


TACK LINE – (SURVEY) -A straight line projected from point (tack) to point as opposed to a solar line run along an astronomic bearing with a solar attachment.

TAILINGS- (MINE)- the waste rock from a mine or mill.


TALLY – (SURVEY) -1) Five chains as measured with a two pole chain. 2) A method of keeping track of count.

TALLY PIN – (SURVEY) - A chaining pin.


TALUS – (MINE) - A slope. Especially a steep slope formed by an accumulation of rock debris.

TANGENT – (SURVEY) - 1) A straight line that touches a given curve at only one point and does not intersect it. 2) In the public lands surveys, a straight line, tangent to a parallel of latitude, usually at a township corner. 3) That part of a traverse of alinement included between the point of tangency (P.T.) of one curve and the point of curvature (P.C.) of the next curve. 4) A trigonometric function of an angle.


TAPING- (SURVEY) - The process of using a tape to measure a distance, also called chaining.


T.B.M. – (SURVEY) - Temporary bench mark

TENEMENT – (LEGAL) - In its original, proper and legal sense, “tenement” signifies everything that may be held, if it is a permanent nature, whether it is corporeal or incorporeal. Though often applied to houses and other buildings or to lands, it is also applicable to offices, rents, franchises and so forth.

TESTIMONY – (LEGAL) - Evidence given by a competent witness, under oath or affirmation; as distinguished from evidence derived from writings and other sources. The words “testimony” and “evidence” are not synonymous.

THALWEG - (SURVEY) - The “downway,” meaning the course taken by boats going downstream in a river. The line following the lowest part of a valley, whether under water or not. The intricacy of detail in ordinary relief often makes difficult a practical location of a thalweg; in a survey of a political boundary line this difficulty may assume considerable weight. A thalweg may also be defined as the line down the center of the main channel of a stream or as the line of greatest slope, cutting all contours at right angles.

THENCE – (SURVEY) - In surveying and in metes and bounds descriptions, the term designates that the course and distance given thereafter is a continuation from the course and distance given before.


THEODOLITE – (SURVEY) - A precision surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles. The graduated circles are usually read by means of optical microscopes and are more precisely graduated than are the circles on a transit.


THIRD ORDER WORK – (SURVEY) - The lowest order of control survey for which monumentation is authorized.

THREAD OF THE STREAM – (LEGAL) - Though the courts do not always agree on definitions, the great weight of authority is to the effect that the thread of the stream is the center of the main channel thereof. If there are two prominent channels, the thread of the stream is the center of the channel used for navigation.

THROW – (MINE) - The vertical distance between the parts of a vein which have been separated by a fault, measured at right angles to the strike of the fault. A horizontal fault can have no throw, and a vertical fault can have no heave.


TIE OUT- (CONSTRUCTION)- The process of determining the location of existing objects (manholes, meter boxes, etc.) during the excavation by tying their location to fixed objects or coordinates. So that they may be recovered and raised after the paving is complete.


TIE – (SURVEY) - A survey connection to an existing station or corner of the Public Lands from a point whose position is desired to be referenced.


TIE IN – (SURVEY)- 1) To make a connection to a previously determined point. 2) To connect corner accessories, topographic and cultural features to the survey.

TIE POINT – (SURVEY) - The point to which a survey connection is made.

TIER - (PLSS) – Any series of contiguous townships situated east and west of each other.


TIME DILATION - (GPS)- Caused by the variation in time's rate on moving satellites relative to time rate on the earth surface. Based on the theory of relativity presented by Einstein.


TITLE – (LEGAL) - In real property law, title is a means whereby the owner of lands has the just possession of his property.


TOE OF SLOPE- (CONSTRUCTION)- The bottom or base of incline.


TOLERANCE – (SURVEY) - The allowable variation from a standard or from specified conditions.

TOPOGRAPHY – (SURVEY) - Collective or individual features both natural and cultural, improvements, significant changes in character of land and relief which are tied to a point on the survey line or are intersected by it.


TOPOGRAPHIC SURVEYING - Measurement taken for locating objects and elevations of points on the ground surface.

TORRENS REGISTRATION SYSTEM – (LEGAL) -The basic principle of the system is the registration of the title to the land, instead of recording the evidence of such title.

TOWNSHIP – (PLSS)- The unit of survey of the public lands; normally a quadrangle approximately 6 miles on a side with boundaries conforming to meridians and parallels within established limits, containing thirty-six sections, some of which are designed to correct for the convergence of meridians or range lines.

TOWNSHIP CORNER – (PLSS)- A corner of a township.

TOWNSHIP LINES – (PLSS)- The township boundaries that run north and south are termed “range lines;” with few exceptions the range lines are run on cardinal and have been intended to be on cardinal. The boundaries running east and west are termed “township lines.” By law, they were intended to be on true parallels of latitude.

TOWNSITE – (PLSS)- An area of public lands which has been segregated for disposal as an urban development, often subdivided into blocks, which are further subdivided into town lots.

TRACT – (SURVEY, PLSS) - Generally, a metes and bounds survey of an area at large within a township. In modern public land surveys the term is used specifically to mean a parcel of land that lies in more than one section or that cannot be identified completely as a part of a particular section. Tract numbers begin with the next higher number of the numerical designation within a township, for example: if there is an old numbers are sequential and no number is repeated within a township, for example; if there is an old Mineral Lot No. 37, the tract would be Tract No. 38. If a tract falls across a township line it is given a separate number in each township.


TRACT OR LOT- (SURVEY)- In NM, a parcel of land in separate ownership or a leasehold or set off for separate ownership or a leasehold.


TRANSFORMATION – (SURVEY) -The process of projecting points from theirplane onto another plane by translation, rotation, and/or scale change.

TRANSIT – (SURVEY) - A repeating surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles. The graduated circles are usually not graduated as precisely as are those on a theodolite.


TRANSIT-STADIA SURVEY – (SURVEY) - A survey in which horizontal and vertical directions or angles are observed with a transit and distances are measured by stadia.

TRANSVERSE MERCATOR MAP PROJECTION – (MAPPING) - A conformal map plotting system in which points on the ellipsoid are mathematically projected onto a cylinder whose axis is oriented 90o (transverse) to the axis of the ellipsoid. The cylinder surface may meet the ellipsoid at the map center or it may cut below the surface (secant) creating two parallels where the scale is exact. The secant form of this projection is the basis of State Plane Coordinate Systems where the zone extends north-south more than east-west.

TRAVERSE – (SURVEY) - In surveying, a sequence of lengths and directions of lines between points on the earth, obtained by field measurements and used to determine the positions of the points through use of trigonometric computations.


TRAVERSE, CLOSED- (SURVEY) - A method of surveying measurement in which the directions and distances of the lines between a series of points is determined and used to calculate the positions of the points.


TRAVERSE, LOOP- (SURVEY) - A traverse that starts and closes on the same point, point of beginning, POB.


TRAVERSE, OPEN- (SURVEY) - A traverse that originates at a known position and ends at an unknown position.


TRAVERSING- (SURVEY) - The process of measuring distances and angles between traverse points.

TRESPASS – (LEGAL) - An unlawful act causing injury to rights or property of another. As used in BLM, an unauthorized use of federal lands or resources. In New Mexico, and many states, surveyors are granted the right to trespass bylegislation to perform a survey.


TRIANGULATION- (SURVEY) - The method of surveying measurement where a baseline is established and the angles between stations are determined to calculate distance.

TRIANGULATION STATION – (SURVEY) - A marked and/or described point whose position has been determined by triangulation. The usage has broadened to include any precise control station.

TRIBRACH – (SURVEY) - The three-arm base of a surveying instrument which carries the foot-screws used in leveling the instrument.


TRILATERATION – (SURVEY) - A method of determining horizontal positions by measuring the lengths of triangle sides, usually with the use of electronic instruments.


TRIPLE DIFFERENCE- (GPS)- A method to solve equations using two satellites, two receivers and timing that produces ease in detecting cycle slips.


TRIGONOMETRIC LEVELING - (SURVEY) - The process of measuring vertical angles and slope distances to determine the difference in elevation between points.

TRUE – (SURVEY) - 1) The correct value, as distinguished from an assumed value or approximate value. 2) An adjective applied to bearings indicating astronomic or geodetic values.

TRUE LINE – (SURVEY) - A line of constant bearing (Rhumb Line) between two corners of a survey.

TUNNEL – (MINE) - A lateral or horizontal passage underground intended to reach the vein or mineral deposit, where a drift may begin.

TUNNEL LOCATIONS – (MINE) - Tunnel sites are acquired in accordance with local rules and customs, but may not exceed 3000 feet as imposed by Federal law. When a lode is discovered within a tunnel, the owner is called upon to make a surface location of the vein or lode as required by law. Discontinuing operations for 6 months constitutes abandonment of all right to the veins along the line of the tunnel.

TURNING POINT – (SURVEY) - In meandering, or in any irregular survey, “turning point” is synonymous with “angle point.” In leveling, however, “turning point” refers to an intermediate point of known elevation in a level circuit.




U-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net


UNDERGROUND MARK – (SURVEY) - A surveying mark set and plumbed below the center of a surface mark and separated therefrom so as to preserve the station in case of accident to the surface mark

UNIVERSAL TRANSVERSE MERCATOR PROJECTION – (MAPPING) - A special case of the transverse Mercator projection.

UNORGANIZED MINING DISTRICT – (MINE) - Where land office forms, or other forms, have a space to indicate “Mining District” and there is, in fact, no organized mining district, the form is completed by writing the words, “unorganized mining district.”

UNRECORDED DEED – (LEGAL) - A conveyance of title not registered or recorded according to state statutes.

URBAN SUBDIVISION – (SURVEY) - A division of property into two or more parcels, usually with street dedications, performed and recorded by a surveyor according to state law and local regulations.

USQUE AD FILUM AQUAE (OR VIAE) – (LEGAL) - Up to the middle of the stream (or road).


USCG- (GPS)- United States Coast Guard


US MINERAL SURVEYOR- (SURVEY)- A U.S. Mineral Surveyor is a special government employee who, after receiving an order from the state office which administers the public land surveys where the claim is located, has the authority to survey the legal boundaries of the mineral deposits on the public domain.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.


V-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

VACANT AND UNAPPROPRIATED PUBLIC DOMAIN LANDS – (PLSS) - Public domain lands which have never left Federal ownership and have not been reserved, withdrawn, dedicated or set aside for a specific purpose.

VARA – (SURVEY) - A Spanish unit of measurement of various lengths.

VEIN – (MINE) - A continuous body of mineral or mineralized rock, filling a seam or fissure in the earth’s crust, within defined boundaries in the general mass of the mountain (boundaries which clearly separate it from the neighboring rock), and having a general character of continuity in the direction of its length. A requirement that a miner shall locate his claim “along the vein” means along the out-crop or course of the apex and not along the strike. “Lode,” “ledge” and “vein” are synonymous in mining law as well as in common usage.

VEIN, DISCOVERY – (MINE)- In mining law, that vein which served as a basis of the discovery and location of a mining claim.

VERSUS – (LEGAL) - A Latin word meaning against. In the title of a cause of action, the name of the plaintiff is put first, followed by the word “versus,” then the defendant’s name. The word is commonly abbreviated “vs.” or “v.”


VERTICAL - (SURVEY) - The direction that gravity acts.


VERTICAL ANGLE - (SURVEY) - The angle measured up or down from the horizon.


VERTICAL CURVE – (MINE) - 1) A parabolic curve used as transition between different grades or slopes.


(VLBI) VERY LONG BASELINE INTERFEROMETRY - (GPS)- When measuring the arrival time of waves emitted by distant quasars at widely separated antenna the relative position of the antennas is determined.




W-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

WARRANTY – (LEGAL) - A promise that a statement is true. In conveyancing, a warranty deed conveys fee title (to the land described) to the grantee and in addition guarantees the grantor will make good the title if it is found wanting


WATER RIGHT - (WATER RIGHTS) - Legal rights to use a specific quantity of water, on a specific time schedule, at a specific place, and for a specific purpose.


WAVELENGTH - (GPS)- Along the sine wave the distance between adjacent points of equal phase is the wavelength., one complete cycle.


WAVING THE ROD – (SURVEY) -Slowly pivoting a leveling rod back and forth so the instrument operator can observe the smallest reading.


WAY – (SURVEY) - A road, street or other passage. Technically, a right of passage over land.


WAYPOINT - (GPS)- A two dimensional coordinate destination to be reached by GPS navigation.

WAYLEAVE – (LEGAL) - A right of way over or through land for the carriage of minerals from a mine or quarry. It is an easement of the class called “rights of way,” and is generally created by express grant or reservation.


WEIGHTED MEAN – (LEGAL) - The value obtained by dividing the product of individual observations and their weights by the sum of all the weights.


WGS84- (GPS)- It is the reference frame used by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and is defined by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagry and Mapping Agency) (formerly the Defense Mapping Agency). WGS 84 is used by DoD for all its mapping, charting, surveying, and navigation needs, including its GPS "broadcast" and "precise" orbits. WGS 84 was defined in January 1987 using Doppler satellite surveying techniques. It was used as the reference frame for broadcast GPS Ephemerides (orbits) beginning January 23, 1987. At 0000 GMT January 2, 1994, WGS 84 was upgraded in accuracy using GPS measurements.

WIDE AREA AUGMENTATION SYSTEM (WASS)- (GPS)- The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) uses this to augment GPS accuracy, availability and integrity.


WINDROW - (CONSTRUCTION)- The spill off from the ends of a dozer or grader blade which forms a ridge of loose material.


WING- (CONSTRUCTION)- A steel plate attached to the end of a grader blade to keep material from rolling off the end of the blade.

WINZE – (MINE)- In mining, a vertical or steeply inclined passageway driven to connect a mine working with another.

WITHDRAWAL  (PLSS) - An action which restricts the disposition of public lands and which holds them for specific public purposes; also, public lands which have been dedicated to public purposes.

WITNESS – (LEGAL) - A person who testifies as to what he has observed.

WITNESS CORNER – (SURVEY) - A monumented survey point usually on the line of survey near a corner established as a reference when the corner is so situated as to render its monumentation or ready use impracticable.

WITNESS POINT – (SURVEY) - A monumented station on a line of the survey, employed to perpetuate an important location without special relation to any regular corner, except that the bearing or distance may be known.


WORLD GEODETIC SYSTEM 1984 (WGS84) - (GPS)- This is a world geodetic earth-centered and earth fixed reference system. The origin is the center of mass of the earth. GPS positions are referenced to this datum.

WRIT OF ERROR – (LEGAL) - A process of common law origin, it is a precept issued in writing by an appellate court to a lower court for supposed error in law apparent on record. A writ of error removes nothing to the higher court for reexamination except the law.


Y-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net


Y-CODE - (GPS)- If antispoofing is turned back on then the P code is encrypete into the Y code and transmitted on L1 and L2.


Elliott Surveying cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. If you need specific advice (for example, legal, financial, or survey) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. These terms and definitions have not been verified. Please do not download this dictionary. It is the property of Elliott Surveying.

Z-Survey, Mining, Mapping Terms and Definitions Elliott Surveying- New Mexico- 505-280-6729 - rusty@elliottsurveying.net

ZENITH - (SURVEY) - The point directly above a point on the surface.


ZENITH ANGLE - (SURVEY) - The angle measured downward from the zenith.


ZONE – (MAPPING, SURVEY) - The unit of division in State Plane Coordinate Systems created where state boundaries extend beyond limits imposed in the design of the projection system. Where the scale error between a geodetic distance and its grid representation exceeds 1 in 10,000 a state was usually divided into two or more zones. A new origin is used for each zone.


ZERO BASELINE TEST - (GPS)- Two receivers are set to one antenna. Most biases are identical between receivers and only random errors remain.


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