Traverse, Traverse Line and How does GPS fit into all of this with GPS Traverse

open traverseIf you look the word traverse up it is used as a noun, a verb, a adverb, a adjective and the list goes on.It also  has many definitions other than the survey term .  In surveying it is in reference to a system of point who's beginning was also it's end.all the sums could be adjusted for a better fit. This is a Closed Traverse. A Traverse Line does not work like this. It's corrections or only averages of each part if this is applied to the survey.There maybe cases were only one angle and one distance is taken at each leg of this Line.This is wrong. Multiples must be taken in this system . This is also to make sure these were correct. Many times i have had to explain to someone  your traverse line is not a traverse. Traverse Lines has stations ,a Traverse does not, a traverse can be adjusted, a traverse Line can not. A compound traverse is two traverse lines that have been tied together . This does not make them a Traverse.   IN a old survey book of mine it says a traverse is a series of points that are connected by angles and distance and can be seen from one point to the next and to the next until they connect back to the first point. This allows the surveyor to make polar or rectangular adjustments to this system .

Can be seen? That's the only way you would turn the the angles and measure them fiscally . Why he said this i do not know, but that is the only way.   So how does GPS " Traverse" fit into all of this . and is it really a traverse or is it only a system of Control points. Voice your conception of what you think and how this terminology is applied. so what makes a Traverse  and a Traverse Line no matter what you use.


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I think a GPS traverse refferse to the GPS method of measuring using the frog leap method from point to point, ie. by using a base station and measuring your next control point then setting up your base on the measured control point and measuring the next traverse point and so on. All the GPS traverse contol points would be dependent on each other that;s why they would be give that name (they would all have new baseline between all the contol points). Not that you have one base station and meaurse all the points, that would not be a GPS Traverse

thanks Maciek for your reply, now lets here some more everybody.

I can not comment at this time on the discussion. I will think it over.

Maurice ,take your time ,we would like your best conception on what makes it one. Not the meaning of the word, but the method of a makes it a Traverse or Traverse Line,  are is it something else entirely, with it's own definition , in the changing world of surveying.

I´m not getting your point Billy...
A colloquial traverse is a traverse line, so I don´t know any other kind of traverse.
A traverse line can be opened (worst case) or closed (best one), can be free or boxed, can be adjusted or not adjusted... There are many cases. It is the best way (by time) to create a benchmark network when GPS observation and adjustment is not possible. It is not a good system if you need to do so maintenance, as it gives you a lot of work. Grid compensation will take more time at the first, but it will work better with less maintenance.

From my point of view, GPS can´t make any "classical survey" methodology, as it doesn´t need a connection between points, only against satellites.

Hello David,  That is my point. First a Traverse is survey system that is closed and can be adjusted. A Traverse   LINE   is something total different,it is all ways open and can not be adjusted.   Never use Traverse Line in reference to a Traverse. Traverse lines  have Stations like highways or railroads . A Traverse does not. This is well documented and recorded in survey manuals and land surveyors reference guides. Next i am not trying to compare conventional  method's to GPS. There are different type systems of (traversing)  Traverse,  Traverse Line and compound Traverse. These are conventional Types  of surveying.  GPS , no it can not make this comparison of angles and distance's ,but mathematically, it can be connect from point to point, It's points can be inverse for vectors just like any other survey system and a GPS traverse does need connection to it's other points. Now the term GPS traverse is well use in today's world this is my ? where does it fit in. In what type of GPS is this term applied.  It is not all GPS surveys, so what is it, is it only in referenced of how this controls are connected that is my ? David   GPS traverse does exist, and this is well documented.


Hello Billy, again...

Forget classical methods and GPS.

I'm not getting the difference between traverse and traverse line.

Traverse is a methodology to create control points following a "path" between some control points. You can begin in a well known point with an azimut and a single way (open traverse), can begin in a unknown point but finishing in a well known point (reverse open traverse), you can begin and end in a well known point (box traverse), you can follow the same "path" n times (compound traverse), you can begin and end in the same point (closed traverse), you can use different "paths" on going and returning ("English traverse")...

But always that you are making a traverse, it will be a traverse line. One issue will be if it is opne, closed, boxed... but always will be a line as far as you are following a "path", so I can´t imagine a traverse that it is not a traverse line.

Regarding GPS traverse, I think that it is a commercial issue in order to explain how it is working making reference to a well know methodology. But from my point of view, as GPS has its own methodologies, it should be "linked" to classical methodology.


Hello, Never in the United States all 50 of them is the term Traverse Line in reference to a Traverse. This may be in Spain and you have may have been taught this in Spain . It is not correct in my little acre of the world or the rest of the United States. This is not the ? in the first place and again i am not comparing conventional methods to GPS. And i am not going to answer this ? for then the debate would end and no one else give their conception of what they think. You need to look up what a traverse is and a traverse line is  they are not the same. I have already explain them both and what the difference is. Do not take my word ,asked someone else.there are Professors and Registered Land surveyors at this site. if you like to add this, let someone else answer this for you.


First, I am not a geodetic scientist or a GPS expert. I have been a student of the subject since I first started using S.C. State Plane Coordinates in 1983, when I was registered as a surveyor in S.C. (USA). I have taken numerous courses on the subject & just finished Mr. Jan Van Sickle's book, "GPS for Land Surveyors". I feel that I am just now scratching the surface. I am amazed at how many surveyors, engineers & professionals in supervisory positions don't understand the basics of geodetic science.

I am going to repeat a quote from Mr.Phil Stevenson of NGS,  that I previously cited in another discussion. "It is important to understand that there is not a direct connection between GPS coordinates & a tangent plane survey. Anybody that has not read the two NGS publications should do do, fundamentals of SPCS & NGS5. They are written around the SPCS & NAD83 but the principles are valid in any GPS system. Often these same officials that don't understand what they are doing sit on registration boards & in supervisory positions & relegate "Land Surveying" to an inferior position. I am pleased to say that this is not the case in S.C. & our board members understand the value of higher education for Land Surveyors & actively support the same.

Most of my current survey projects are larger boundary surveys where it is difficult to get good GPS reception or put another way, good sky. You can't beat RTK on a construction site where you have a lot of utilities to stake & wide open sky. It is a little different with a so called "forensic survey" standing in 3 ft. of water in a S.C. swamp under heavy tree cover. I usually use the method suggested by Mr. Van Sickle which is to combine GPS observations with conventional surveying. The important thing, in my humble opinion, is that the survey be tied to a geodetic data base so that the survey is perpetuated & lost corners can be reestablished as the need arises.

Methods for referencing a tangent plane survey to GPS control is well covered in the NGS publications. One might also like to look at the course called NAVSTAR, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is a little outdated but has a lot of good info.

Hi, I am still thinking about how to comment on this question. I Canada or BC where I survey we use both systems; GPS and total stations for traversing. The client will always ask a month latter for the coordinates to be in UTM with a correct scale factor. What else can I say? Our surveys are tied out to Geodetic monuments like the rest of Canada.

Charlie, thank you for your reply. and Maurice thank you for yours also.

It was never my intent to compare conventional or rectangular plane surveying to GPS. Only to the terminology of how this is used. Me and the Corps, we go way back. I like outdated anyway.


Hi billy i think a traverse is a series of lines joint together. and there are two types: </open  traverse> which starts from a known point to another known point and </close traverse> which starts from a known point to that same point and a traverse line is the distance from  any initial point to  the preceeding one in a traverse. 


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