Page 1

Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors Newsletter The

Pennsylvania Surveyor

Surveying Beyond Boundaries

Spring 2015

The Problem with

Underground Utilities In February, 2015 a Pennsylvania surveyor damaged an underground gas line

while setting an iron pin corner. Despite the belief that it was not a legal requirement to place an 811 call because he was not using power equipment, the surveyor was brought to court and fined for his actions because an 'expert' testified that it was standard business practice to do so.

The Problem

According to a report by the American Public Works Association, an underground utility is hit every 60 seconds in the United States. Statistics show only 12.5 % of the Nation’s 20 million miles of underground utilities are gas pipelines; which leaves an estimated17.5 million miles of electric, telecommunications, water, sewer and other utilities buried at varying depths throughout the US. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Gas lines are required to be buried at a minimum of 24 inches if a main (§192.327) or 12 – 18 inches for a surface line (§192.361) depending on whether the property is public or private. One electric utility company advises that underground lines are buried 30-48 inches below the surface, but notes that depths can change when additional grading is done to the property. Other public utility resources note that underground locations have a left/right tolerance of 24” from the outer surface of the utility. The tolerances also change from state to state and between different types of utilities, further complicating utility location. With more than half of the nation’s pipelines being more than 50 years old, how accurate are the locations currently being used? How accurate are the publicly recorded locations of 100 year old water lines? Over time, erosion, soil displacement, changing technology, new construction, and human error have combined to make locating older utilities a gamble.

Inside... 3

President’s Message...


NSPS News...


The Hermansen Series...


Surveying and Boy Scouts


Student Cafe...

18 Summer Conference...22 Sustaining Firms...


NSPS Student Competition...

28 Ramblings by Chuck ...31 Student Spotlight...

Continued on Page 14

Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors Officers Adam Crews, PLS, President Michael D. Kreiger, PLS, President-Elect Shaheed A. Smith, PLS, Vice President Scott R. Reeser, PLS, Secretary Mark E. Hummel, PLS, Treasurer Karl E. Kriegh, PLS, Past President Robert R. Miller, PLS, NSPS Director

2015 Board Meeting Dates July 24, Camp Hill, PA Sept - Dec dates to be decided

State Directors Allegheny Heartlands Chapter Joseph P. Hood, PLS & Bill Lehman, PLS Bucks Chapter Jonathan J. Tabas, PE, PLS & Brian Yorkiewicz, PLS Delaware Valley Chapter Bruce E. Lewis, PLS & Richard A. Shewman, PLS Harrisburg Chapter James Hartman, PLS & Thomas W. Kimmel, PLS Laurel Highlands Chapter Richard R. Bourg Jr., PLS & Charles L. Zelenak Jr., PLS Lehigh Valley Chapter Stephen D. Ombalski, PLS Mid-State Chapter Fred M. Henry, PLS North Central Chapter K. Robert Cunningham, PLS & Charles G. Lang, PLS Northeast Chapter Brent L. Birth, PLS & Glenn L. Johnson, PLS Northwest Chapter Jeffrey P. Gilmore, & Edward E. Northrop, PLS Pocono Chapter Gregg A. Davis, PLS & William F. Schoenagel, PLS Reading Chapter John G. Fuehrer II, PE, PLS & John M. Huck, PLS South Central Chapter Thomas E. Farcht Jr., PLS & L. Bradley Foltz, PLS Southwest Chapter Donald R. Housley Sr., PLS & Terry R. Siefers, PLS

The PSLS board and staff extend condolences to the families of these PSLS members who passed away. David W. Cole, PLS, of Emmaus, Pa, a life member of the Lehigh Valley Chapter passed on December 10, 2014 at the age of 83. Memorial donations can be made to the Bethel Bible Fellowship Church. Ronald A. Dolla, PLS, of Reading, Pa, a life member of the Reading Chapter passed on March 16, 2015 at the age of 79. Ron was interred at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetary. George G. Margetto, Jr., PLS, of Atglen, Pa, a member of the Reading Chapter passed on January 19, 2015 of complications from ALS. Nicholas D. Remy, PE, PLS, of Allentown, Pa, a Past President of PSLS (2003) passed on April 30, 2015 at the age of 85. Nick was more recently the Founder and President of PA PLS. Memorial contributions may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Susquehanna Chapter James Creasy, PLS & David A. Drumheller, PLS

PSLS Staff Laurie L. Troutman, Business Manager

Editor Donald E. Rife, PLS


Contact or call 717.540.6811.

Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors 801 East Park Drive, Suite 107, Harrisburg, PA 17111 P: 717.540.6811 F: 717.540.6815


PSLS Mission The Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors, a statewide professional organization, exists for the purpose of supporting, improving and enhancing the profession, its members, and the practice of land surveying. To these ends, the critical work of the Society focuses on providing education, legislative involvement, enhancing the public awareness, and the promulgation of the ethics of the profession.

The Pennsylvania Surveyor is published by the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors (PSLS). Articles or opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of PSLS, but are published as a service to its members, the general public, and for the betterment of the surveying profession. Articles may be reprinted with due credit given. We welcome submissions via e-mail in MS Word format. Please forward to or call 717.540.6811.

President’s Pen

A Look to the Future Adam D. Crews, PLS


e are nearly halfway through the year and your Board of Directors have dealt with a lot of issues and has a lot more to handle. Your Directors are your direct conduits for expressing your Chapter opinions, desires, and needs to the Society. Your Directors also are your direct conduit for learning what’s happening in the Society and elsewhere in the state. As head of the Executive Committee, it would seem like the President is in charge of running the Society. That isn’t the reality: the Board of Directors is the entity that makes strategy, decisions, and policy for the Society. The Executive Committee is charged with running the operations of the Society.

In September 2014, Swatara Township proposed a revision to its Subdivision Ordinance requiring setting of concrete markers at property corners with no provision for retaining existing record monumentation. President-Elect Mike Kreiger volunteered to address the situation and act at the point person for communication, education, and response. He authored a Monuments and Markers memo for adoption by PSLS. This has been presented to your Directors several times, most recently issued directly to you via email May 27, with a request for Chapter comment. To date there has been no response. Do PA surveyors not care about preservation of record markers (if that’s the case you should mail your license back to the Registration Board), is the document perfect, or have your Directors not engaged you in participating and providing feedback for Board discussions? Another example: Several years ago, the Society stopped budgeting for Chapter rebates in its annual budget. At the time, the savings was necessary for us to be fiscally responsible. Now, in order to increase Board participation and provide renewed support for our Chapters we’re proposing a Performance-based Chapter rebate. At the March Board meeting, I asked all Directors to talk with their Chapters and respond with ideas for performance standards that were acceptable to your Chapter. At the April Board meeting there was no response except for “we haven’t had a meeting”. In this era, is holding a physical meeting the only way we can communicate with our members? In April, I asked again for the Directors to talk about the topic with their Chapters. By the May Board meeting, only one Chapter (Susquehanna, thank you) had a written response to the request for feedback. A discussion occurred at the May meeting but seemed more like personal opinions of Directors rather than feedback from Chapter discussions. The result was that Chapter rebates are not included in the 2015-2016 approved budget. There will be a Board work session on July 24 to further discuss options. How do you feel about your Society? How do you feel about your Directors? Do you feel informed? Do you feel the Society is doing what you want it to do? The Board takes actions and makes decisions based on what they feel is in the best interest of its members. After all, the Society is nothing without its members. By the time you’re reading this, we will have filed the last of our paperwork to dissolve the Design Association Center. If you recall, the DAC is the management company that had been partially owned, then fully owned, by PSLS and last year the Board voted to dissolve it based upon a change in staffing at the DAC, several discussions at Board meetings, and the recommendation of the DAC Task Force. It’s very exciting to continue to promote our first Summer Conference this August to be held in State College. Hands-on and highly interactive this Conference is geared toward a diverse group of surveyors and hope you help make it successful by signing up your licensed and unlicensed, office and field, personnel for the variety of courses available. Do you feel that you have more questions than answers about some of the topics I’ve mentioned above? You should contact your State Director and encourage them to provide feedback to, and from, the Board of Directors so that your opinions are heard and we can make the best decisions we can to continue to mold the Society to meet the evolving needs of its members and the profession. Adam D. Crews, PLS


Director's Report A message from Robert R. Miller, PLS, NSPS Director of Pennsylvania Fellow PSLS Members: NSPS held its annual meeting in April 13-16, 2015 in conjunction with the MAPPS Geospatial Summit in Arlington, VA. As many of you know, I was elected to the position of Treasurer of NSPS during the meeting. I am happy to have the opportunity to serve the profession with this appointment. This meeting was very eventful with presentations, Lobby Day, business meeting, elections, competitions, and committee meetings. Here is a summary of the NSPS meetings as written by Rick Howard and Jon Warren. The Geospatial Summit Sessions by NGS were very enlightening with regards to the new datums proposed in 2022. Admittedly, it is a way off - but the resources provided by NGS to roll out NAD83 and NAVD88 are no longer there. NSPS and AAGS are teaming up to do our part. We're helping develop the model law for implementing the datums in state statutes, and have a committee in place to reach out to the surveying community to help them understand and implement the new datums. Now that there is a better understanding of the significant changes with these new datums, the Geodetic Certification program NSPS and AAGS have agreed to develop and implement makes even more sense to offer to our respective members. Incoming President Jon Warren represented NSPS to the 3DEP coalition which includes among others, USGS, NOAA, NGS, FEMA, NGAC, NGIC, ASPRS, MAPPS. Essentially, 3DEP is a program to create over an 8-year period of time a full digital elevation model/tin for the full nationwide coverage. This is an important coalition for NSPS to participate in, as we have the only nationwide network reach which will be critical to building local, state, and nationwide support. Now that we have nearly 16,000 members, we are being recognized. Jon pointed out to the group that is not an accident that the only statewide successful program, to be used as a nationwide example, is headed by a Surveyor, past president of NSPS, Gary Thompson of North Carolina. NSPS members can all be very proud of what Gary has accomplished at his state. A link to the 3DEP program is Talking about dedication, did you realize that 11 'past' presidents of NSPS stood at the front of the room for a picture, and all were actively participating in the four-day meeting. Thank you gentleman. We also had the opportunity to recognize some real stalwarts in the organization who are stepping down and allowing others to take the reins: John Matonich (Past President, Chair Joint Government Affairs), John Fenn (Past President, Treasurer) and Malcolm Shaw (Governor, Director of many years for NY) who have served NSPS with distinction. Several individuals also completed their terms as area directors. NSPS Executive Director Curt Sumner (at podium) installed the new NSPS officers left to right: Past President Pat Smith; Treasurer Robert Miller; Secretary Tim Burch; President Jon Warren; President-Elect Tony Cavell. Jan Fokens, NSPS Vice President, was in attendance, but missing from the photo. Continued on Page 17


Trig-Star Sponsorship Form Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors needs your help to support the Trig-Star program! Your sponsorship provides monetary awards for the top students from each participating school district in Pennsylvania. First-place winners compete at a national level. Trig-Star Contest Levels: Level 1 is given at local high schools (three winners). There is one top winner from each participating high school. Level 2 is the national test. The state winner from each participating state is eligible to compete for the National Trig-Star title. Local Awards Local and state awards are provided by the local chapter or sponsors. National Awards National awards provided by the National Society of Professional Surveyors Richard E. Lomax National Trig-Star and Teaching Excellence Awards. st 1 place winner - $2,000 nd 2 place winner - $1,000 rd 3 place winner - $500

Winners and sponsors will be recognized in The Pennsylvania Surveyor newsletter. Donations for this important competition can be sent to PSLS at the address above. Yes, I would like to donate to Trig-Star! $50  $100  $______ (other amount) Name (individual or company)


Address __________________________________________________ City, State, ZIP _____________________________________________ Make check payable to PSLS or provide credit card information below. VISA / MC / DISCOVER Card #

The Trig-Star program contest is an annual high




sponsored by the National Society of Professional Surveyors based on the practical application of trigonometry. The program recognizes the best students from high schools throughout the nation.

The purpose of the Trig-Star Program: 

To promote the study of trigonometry in high school and to promote excellence in the mastery of trigonometry by honoring the individual student who has demonstrated superior skill among classmates at the high school level.

To acquaint the high school trigonometry students with the use and practical application of trigonometry in the surveying profession.

To build an awareness of surveying as a profession among the mathematically skilled high school students, career guidance counselors and high school math teachers.

__ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __

Exp. Date ___/___ Amount $ ________ Signature__________________________________________ or Check # ______________


The Hermansen Series This is the second of five articles in a series written by Knud E. Hermansen. A new article will be published in each of the next three issues of the PA Surveyor.

Common Research Mistakes Surveyors Make (Forward Search)

by Knud E. Hermansen, P.L.S., P.E., Ph.D., Esq.

In a previous article I stated that surveyors often make five common mistakes in researching the records. In the first article I discussed mistakes made in determining senior title. The second of five common mistakes often made by surveyors when researching the records is the failure to perform a forward search. Many surveyors perform a record research back in time but fail to perform a search forward in time. As a consequence, the surveyor will often miss recorded out-conveyances from a parcel. The surveyor will also fail to find other recorded documents (e.g., boundary agreement) related to the boundary of the parcel being researched.

conveying the five-foot strip of land to the neighbor. The surveyor, with Bill as a client, would believe the fence was encroaching on Bill’s property. What this example illustrates is that a complete record search entails using the name of a previous owner and searching every grantor index from the time the property was conveyed to a predecessor in title up to the present time. This procedure is known as a forward search. Unless a forward search is performed, the surveyor will not discover some conveyances that were made, properly indexed, and are effective against the title to real estate.

Assume a research of the records has disclosed that Randy owned a residential lot from 4 June 1932 to 16 August 1974. On 13 June 1950, Randy conveyed a five-foot strip of his residential property to his neighbor, by a properly executed deed. The neighbor built a fence along the new boundary on 2 May 1954 (thereby providing notice). On 16 August 1974, Randy conveyed the residential lot to Bill. The deed from Randy to Bill used the original description and did not mention the five-foot strip conveyed to the neighbor twenty-four years previously. On 23 August 1989 the executrix (personal representative) of the neighbor’s estate discovered that the deed for the five-foot strip from Randy to the decedent had never been recorded. The executrix recorded the deed for the five-foot strip on 23 August 1989. Although the deed was executed in 1950, the deed was indexed in the indices covering the 1989 time period when the deed was finally recorded. If a surveyor fails to perform a forward search, the surveyor will not discover the recorded deed


Bringing to light a surveyor’s failure to perform a forward search will not necessarily convince surveyors to undertake the tedious and time consuming research necessary to overcome this limitation. Yet, the failure to perform this task could expose the surveyor to liability. At the very least, the surveyor should inform the client that these deficiencies in the research exist at the completion of services. Should the client want to compensate the surveyor for the time to perform a thorough search, these limitations can be overcome. Knud is a professor in the surveying engineering technology program at the University of Maine. He offers consulting services in the area of boundary litigation, title, easements, land development, and alternate dispute resolution.

Become a Donor Today! PLS Foundation

Foundation Corner


he Pennsylvania Land Surveyors’ (PLS) Foundation is your guide to helping promote, improve, and encourage the practice of land surveying to future generations. When you donate, you not only help support your profession, you: • • •

Create public awareness about land surveying career opportunities, Provide financial assistance to individuals pursuing an education in land surveying, Make grants and contributions to educational institutions to enhance a land surveying curriculum, and Offer financial assistance to individuals or educational institutions for research in land surveying.

As part of its mission, the Foundation offers annual scholarships to land surveying students who exhibit academic excellence and personal commitment to the betterment of society. Each year, the Foundation awards thousands of dollars in scholarship money to Pennsylvania residents who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in land surveying. To date, total funds dispersed exceed $215,000. Play your part in giving direction to the surveyors of tomorrow and helping to perpetuate the profession by donating to the Foundation today! The Foundation welcomes support not only from members, but from corporations and all individuals who believe in the Foundation’s mission. Visit the PSLS website at for more information. n

PLS Foundation Donation Form (or donate online) Name or Company Name





ZIP Phone

Payment Method Check enclosed (Payable to PLS Foundation)


Card No.

Name on Card


Mail payment and form to: PLS Foundation c/o PSLS 801 East Park Drive, Suite 107 Harrisburg, PA 17111 Phone: 717-540-6811 Fax: 717-540-6815




Exp. Date

CCV Code (3 digits on back of card)

Donation Categories (Select one) r Regular: $35/ year r Century: $100/ year r Sustaining: $500/ year r Lifetime: $2,000


SURVEYING AND BOY SCOUTS Surveying Merit Badge Camp Guyasuta, Pittsburgh, PA The scouts learned about deed interpretation, safety, the varied sub disciplines of surveying (cadastral, hydrographic, topographic, GIS, planimetric, geodetic, construction, etc.), the history of surveying from ancient times to now, famous surveyors, as well as mathematics and legal requirements.

The Unknown Boy Scout Statue (1937) with modern accessories

Camp Guyasuta hosted seven Boy Scouts from four different Troops for the surveying merit badge over the past weekend, learning the prestigious history, importance of accuracy, and attention to detail required for the profession.

To add to the merit badge, the scouts did real world surveying in support of the camp, to include boundary survey evidence collection, setting geodetic survey control points, and performing as-built surveys for recent construction activities. The boys had hands on training with total stations, VRS GPS, survey chains, metal detec- Travis Anderson and Corey King GPS boundtors, and compass. ary evidence the Scouts found on the 130 acre camp property

Four local surveyors volunteered their time in mentoring the scouts, with Precision Laser and Instrument giving demonstrations of the latest robotic total station and remote scanning technology, to include donating field books, scales, and a brand new set of binoculars for the Scout with the highest test score.

Todd Courinos demonstraƟng the roboƟc total staƟon

Find a Scout Troop near you: h�p://bsahos� Find a ScouƟng District Council near you: h�p://www.scou� 


Surveying and Boy Scouts I wish to extend many thanks to the volunteers who helped make the merit badge class a success, and showing the scouts to a long honored profession. Todd Courinos from Precision Laser & Instrument, Robert Wallace from Willbros, Travis Anderson from Stan Graff Surveying, and Corey King from Pennoni Associates.

Bob Wallace nding boundary evidence and GPS

2013’s “rarest” merit badges (much better than the negativesounding “Bottom 10”) were: Composite Materials, Drafting, Surveying, Stamp Collecting, American Labor, Journalism, American Business, Sustainability, Bugling and Programming. Don’t deny other Scouts their chance to learn about surveying due to lack of counselors! For those wishing to volunteer their time and experience by exTravis Anderson assisƟng in as-built locaƟons of posing the scouts to surveying, the new zip line and geodeƟc survey control with feel free to contact me for presenthe Scouts tation material and teaching methods. Jeffrey Horneman, PLS/GISP US Army Corps of Engineers, PSLS Geospatial Committee 412-592-4126 (cell)

Boy Scouts awarded the Survey MB       

Elijah Connell (T415 Ohio) - working to complete all 133 BSA merit badges, this badge was his 125th! Alexander Wallace (T65) Ben Horneman (T395) David Kish (T403) Keith Nikolaevich (T395) AJ Bischof (T395) Thomas Spinks (T395)

Todd Courinos supervising remote data collecƟon


Student Café GRAV-D

By: Kevin Katchko

Abstract GRAV-D, fully known as Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum is a project being conducted by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) to modify the vertical datum of the United States. This informative paper provides information researched on the GRAV-D project. The scope of this paper includes: an overview of the GRAV-D project and its parts, gravity’s importance in surveying, the aerogravity surveys of GRAV-D, and how


Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) is a project that seeks to re-define the vertical datum of the United States by 2022. This essentially means that the project is designed to model and observe the Earth’s geoid in order for it to act as a zero reference surface for all heights in the country. The project is headed by the NGS, and when completed, is expected to produce a gravity based vertical datum accurate at the 2 cm level for most of the country. Three major operations make up the GRAV-D project, including a “high-resolution ‘snapshot’ of gravity in the US”, a “low-resolution ‘movie’ of gravity changes”, and “Terrestrial Partnership Surveys” (GRAV-D). The need for a new vertical datum will be considered as part of this research. In addition, the aspects of GRAV-D and the three major operations that are taking place as part of it will be covered in the research. Next, the aerogravity surveys of GRAV-D will also be discussed. The affect this project has on surveyors as well as the general public will then be reviewed as part of the topic. GRAV-D’s importance will show it’s worth the price tag that comes with doing the project, and it will serve to benefit numerous parties when completed.

The GRAV-D Project

The GRAV-D project originated in 2008 when the United States National Geodetic Survey (NGS) set a goal for developing an accurate and seamless gravity field model for production of a centimeter level accurate geoid height model. The realization of this new datum will replace the current vertical height system in the U.S., the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). Partnerships with Canada, Mexico, Central American countries and the Caribbean will help to establish


this datum as a regional reference and then be able to be readily linked to a future World Height System (Roman, Li). To accomplish this goal, the NGS has broken down the GRAV-D project into three campaigns. Campaign 1 is a “High-Resolution Snapshot of Gravity” which will provide a “high-resolution, instantaneous, consistent view of the entire near-surface terrestrial gravity field for the United States and its territories in a modern epoch” (The GRAV-D Project: Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum). This part of the project will take between 7 to 10 years to complete and cost about $26 million. This campaign will first seek to fill the gaps in terrestrial gravity coverage that exist in the United States on the shores and in the southern half of Alaska. Second, the campaign will include a unified operation to collect gravity data of all the states so that the data collection from each state can be seamlessly overlapped. The process for campaign 1 will rely heavily on airborne gravity collection with on-the-ground gravity confirmation because no other method will provide accurate, efficient and cross-country consistency with data. Campaign 2 will provide a “Low-Resolution Movie of Gravity” that models the “temporal changes to gravity and the related changes to the gravimetric geoid, orthometric heights, and dynamic heights over all United States territories” (The GRAV-D Project: Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum). The time for this campaign is currently indefinite and will cost approximately $200,000 annually. The procedure for this part of the project will include determining “episodic gravity sites” around the United States, executing a schedule of absolute gravity measurements at these locations, taking this data in addition to other gravity information to set forth a map of gravity velocities on a large geographic scale,

Gravity's Importance to Surveying Since Galileo’s gravity experiments in the 16th century, gravity and its global abnormalities have played a crucial role in measurements taken along the surface of the Earth. It is also known that the gravity field is shaped by the irregular mass at the surface and within the Earth. All these elements affect surveying in some way. Using GPS, doing work that requires heights, or jobs that involve determining water flow direction has a felt influence from gravity. It has shaped the past vertical datums and will influence the National Spatial Reference Frame in the future as well

Aerogravity Surveys As part of the first campaign of GRAV-D, aerogravity surveys will serve as the main tactic for measuring gravity in the continental U.S., 150 km into Canada and Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii, and many U.S. territories. These surveys are conducted with a gravimeter from a plane, but before any takeoff, first some steps must be taken on the ground (Roman, Li).

Pre-Flight Control stations in the flight area must be recovered and new ones installed to create a reference for the gravity measurements. Terrestrial GPS observations and absolute gravity measurements are taken at the control points, which establish a reference for relative gravity measurements in the plane months before the aerogravity surveys actually take place. In addition,

Flight and Data Collection Aerogravity surveys serve as a bridge between terrestrial gravity data and satellite gravity data due to the wavelength band between the two being at opposite ends of the spectrum. Therefore, the band of reliability for the airborne gravity data must be determined so that there is a sufficient overlap into the lower and upper areas. First the higher limit of the band is established by the shortest dimensions of the survey block. In most cases the flight block is 400km x 500km in order to overlap the shortest wavebands of satellite gravity data. A typical block is flown at 20,000 ft, with data lines spaced 10 km apart. The shortest band is twice the sampling interval, or in the cross track direction is twice the data line spacing. Along track, the data resolution is decided by a mix of flight altitude and the amount of “along-track low-pass filtering used� (Roman, Li). Data is measured in 1 second intervals which results in a measurement every 113 meters at 220 knots velocity. Following the data collection, the information must now be processed (Roman, Li). Continued on Page 13

See Pages 22 & 23 for Details

The third and final campaign will be terrestrial partnership surveys. This part of the project will serve to be a check where new airborne gravity surveys disagree with existing terrestrial gravity data. These surveys will rely heavily in partnerships NGS will establish through the National Height Modernization program. In the end, the whole project will cost $38.5 million with an additional $0.2 million in annual maintenance (The GRAV-D Project: Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum). The GRAV-D project is truly dense and expensive,

the weather has to be accounted for before taking off to complete a survey. With certain conditions, the pilot having to adjust for speed and altitude would affect the sensitive units on the planes and make data collected unfit for use in some cases. There are also on board still readings taken from the planes gravimeter once the unit warms up and gravity readings calm. While the unit warms up before the flight, GPS receivers are set up on the proximate ground control to collect data for later processing with the onboard GPS data from the plane. Upon completion of the preliminary ground procedures, the flight and data collection is ready to take place (Bellis).

PSLS 2015 Summer Conference

and finally, to apply the velocities to gravimetric geoid undulation velocities, orthometric height velocities and dynamic height velocities (The GRAV-D Project: Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum).


Continued from Page 11



Once the data has been collected, the NGS Geoid Team is the recipient of the information tasked with developing the new geoid height model for production. This team sifts through the data removing systematic errors or reducing them into individual profiles. This data can then be used to assess terrestrial gravity data that is held in the NGS database. 35% of the U.S. regions have been completed and the aerogravity surveys are on track for completion before 2022. The below figure illustrates the plans for aerogravity surveys in the U.S. as of February 11, 2014 (Roman, Li)

other profession or activity on Earth. After all, surveying is the profession that is responsible for establishing points on the Earth with coordinates. Therefore, it is crucial to know how the changes GRAV-D brings are going to influence the world of surveying. The first significant change surveyors should be aware of is that heights will change. Ellipsoid heights will change from approx. -2.0m to +2.0m throughout the world. CONUS orthometric heights will also change around +0.1m in Florida, to -1.3m in Washington. Alaska will see more than 2 meters of change. There will also be new standards and specifications and forward and backward datum conversions that will be necessary. To access this new datum, geodetic quality GNSS receivers will be the primary way continuing to use the OPUS tools. The ellipsoid heights are computed, the gravimetric geoid removed and the then the orthometric height is provided in the new datum. The secondary access to the datum is by passive marks being tied into the new vertical datum. The work on the new datum is still under way and NGS plans to update an experimental gravimetric geoid with GRAV-D data annually as the project progresses, until the projects conclusion in 2022 with USGG2022 (Damiani).


GRAV-D and Surveyors

By 2022, America and the world over will see a significant change in the height system. Through the workings of GRAV-D, and its many campaigns and objectives, there will be a newly defined gravimetric geoid. This new gravity-based vertical datum will be accurate at the 2cm level where possible throughout the country, causing a significant amount of changes to surveying, and many other fields of work. This improvement will be beneficial to all who use heights of points on the Earth in some way. Through the efforts of the NGS, combined with surveyors around the country, GRAV-D will change the future of measuring.

The GRAV-D project will be an accomplishment that is going to affect numerous people, professions, government agencies, countries and the world. The realization of a new vertical datum is going to be a big change, but also a big help and improvement on the current datum. The GRAV-D project will also modernize and bring to light the power and ability of technology in today’s world. However, the mission by the NGS to create this gravity based datum is an objective that affects the profession of surveying perhaps in more ways than any

References 1. Bellis V. K. 2012. “Gravity’s Increasing Gravitas”, Professional Surveyor 2. Bellis V. K. 2012. “Gravity’s Increasing Gravitas”, Professional Surveyor 3. Roman D., Li X. 2014. “GRAV-D: Using Aerogravity to Produce a Refined Vertical Datum”, International Federation of Surveyors 4. “The GRAV-D Project: Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Geodetic Survey 5. Damiani, Theresa Dr. January 13, 2014. “GRAV-D and Its Impact on Surveying”, Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors Conference 6. “GRAV-D” National Geodetic Survey

Green: Available data and metadata Blue: Data being processed Orange: Data collection underway White: Planned for data collection


Continued from Page 1

Underground Utilities

One example recently cited in the ongoing location discussion involved a utility that was clearly marked by the utility company. The company hired people to keep the area clear for 20 feet to each side of the utility. Trees were trimmed, grass was cut, and a clear line of sight marked the placement of the utility. After 20 years or so, a company was hired to mark out the exact physical location of the utility and found it not in the center of the cleared area, but 10 feet to one side. How could this happen? Over time, trees were trimmed and grass cut farther to one side than the other, effectively moving the physical center line by inches, then feet from the center of the cleared pathway. An example of changes due to technology is one most surveyors have experienced. Any surveyor who has experience in boundary retracement knows that sometimes, the intent of the original conveyance weighs more heavily in locating the line than the last recorded measurement. “Thence 250 feet eastward...” may be an entirely different distance when measured by a new total station than it was when the original surveyor recorded it after measuring with a chain. The same is true of utility locations. Your total station may be able to measure off an area to within an inch of the actual distance, but the surveyor using his 1929 transit still marked the original line and that is where the utility will be located.

Location Services Underground Utility Line Protection Act (121) outlines the procedures to be used in protecting the health safety and welfare of the public through protection of underground utilities. The Pennsylvania One Call System is the vehicle through which the act is implemented. Act 121 states that it is the duty of the excavator to contact PA One Call so that any underground facility can be appropriately marked 3 to 10 business days before excavation. Also according to Act 121, it is the duty of the utility owner to “To mark, stake, locate or otherwise provide the position of the facility owner's underground lines at the site within eighteen inches horizontally from the outside wall of such line…” The Act goes on to state what steps the excavator should take if the utility owner does not have, or does not mark or identify the site as requested including hand digging test holes or other exploratory methods and when such additional costs may be billed back to the utility owner.


Dan Geoppinger of The Underground Detective offered some insight into locating underground utilities from the perspective of a full service utility locator. First and foremost, Geoppinger stressed that services provided by companies such as The Underground Detective are not a substitute for an 811 call, but rather an additional service provided to assure the client that all possible safety measures have been taken. Working with 811 providers in several states gives Dan a different perspective on the location services offered. The locations are often inaccurate or not clearly marked even when a ticket has been entered correctly. As previously noted, utility locations may not be exact when provided by the utility owner due to a variety of causes. The Underground Detective and other location services offer utility location to everyone from the large project owner developing a multi-million dollar project to the homeowner who wants to dig flower beds without disturbing existing utilities. As a rule of thumb, Geoppinger suggests that when deciding whether or not to pay for a utility location, the word excavate be read as “break ground” in order to err on the side of safety.

Preparation and Remediation If you routinely work in an area with a higher density of underground infrastructure, being prepared could save you time and money in the event of utility damage. For those times when the utility is marked at a depth of 36 inches, and your 9 inch pin damages it, be prepared for a lot of paperwork. Common Ground Alliance (CGA) offers a Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) program to collect and analyze damage information. The program includes a DIRT Field Form for gathering information about a damage incident. Rhino Marking and Protection Systems of Minnesota offer a variety of tips and tools to prevent utility damage, as well as a Rhino HIT kit to record damage to underground utilities. Both programs offer tips and tools to record the damage information in a format that is easy to understand and complete.


Underground Utilities

A possible solution to the problem is to legislate a requirement for underground infrastructure to be located, mapped and the information be made available to the public in order to prevent accidental damages. As part of Lobby Day 2015, members of NSPS and MAPPS presented lawmakers with a proposal that an accurate geospatial inventory of underground infrastructure be created and maintained in the interests of public safety. At this time, no such legislation has been introduced, but the possibility of a future GIS containing the information has been discussed.

The Pennsylvania Surveyor Newsletter Advertising Rate Schedule

How Does this Affect Surveyors? As most surveyors don’t employ powered equipment to excavate the ground, it would almost seem that the excavator part of the Act does not pertain to the profession. The actuality is that if you displace earth, it is considered excavation and though you may not be required to place a One Call, it can be in your best interest to do so. Section 5 of Act 121 clearly lays out the responsibilities of excavators, but the confusion lies in the definition of Excavation Work. According to Section 1 (Definitions), excavation can include anything involving the displacement of earth at a depth of more than 18 inches. Until such time that underground utility locations are clear and easy to understand, surveyors need to protect themselves and their employees from possible harm. If a surveyor plans to break the ground in any way, an 811 call is the safe thing to do when working near gas mains or other hazardous underground infrastructure. Hitting a gas or electric line with an iron pin and hammer can have fatal consequences. Even without human injury, the cost of the damage may be compounded with fees, fines, and repair costs. When dealing with underground utilities, follow the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.


PSLS PAC Membership Application Become a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors Political Action Committee (PSLS PAC) today! Your crucial donation provides the necessary funding to help PSLS cultivate political support from legislators who take interest in issues that are important to Pennsylvania surveyors. PSLS PAC is bipartisan and operates with full transparency in compliance with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Election Campaign Act and applicable laws. PSLS PAC’s strength comes from you and your commitment to the surveying profession. For a $50 PAC Membership, you will receive a polo shirt with the PSLS logo and PAC Member embroidered on it so you can proudly show your support of PSLS legislative initiatives. With your commitment, together we can make Pennsylvania a better place to practice land surveying for today’s and tomorrow’s working professionals. Thank you! Questions? Contact Mark Hummel, PLS, PSLS PAC Chairman at

PSLS PAC Membership Voluntary Contribution Form I support the work of the PSLS Political Action Committee! Make personal checks payable to PSLS PAC and remit to:

Political Action Committees cannot accept corporate checks.

PSLS PAC c/o PSLS 801 E. Park Drive Suite 107 Harrisburg, PA 17111

Enclosed is my personal donation.  $50 PSLS PAC Membership Additional Donation  $100  $500  Other __________




Address: ___________________________________ __________________________________________ City, State, ZIP: ______________________________ E-mail:_____________________________________

PAC contributions are not tax deductible.

Continued from Page 4

The NSPS Foundation recently began an intriguing fund raiser. Participants have a 1 in 300 chance to win a cruise for two to either Alaska, the Danube River, or the Mediterranean. The $100 tickets will raise funds for the Foundation to use for disaster relief and scholarships. For tickets or more information, email rmiller@

Capitol Hill Day The Capitol Hill Day (formerly Lobby Day) activities were by all accounts a big success! Teaming up with MAPPS allowed us to send over 120 people to Capitol Hill.

The ALTA/ACSM (soon to be ALTA/NSPS) Committee has considered many suggestions for revising the standards over the last few years. It appears that the standards proposed for February of 2016 will be quite a stride forward in clarity of implementation in ALTA surveys. The internal NSPS committee on this subject reviewed those suggestions during the conference. The student competition was another success, won by Puerto Rico (4 year program) and New Mexico Community College (2 year program). Their posters on Topographic Mapping Error Analysis will provide some interesting reading material when they are available in digital form for posting on the NSPS website. For information on the Pennsylvania team, see page 25 The NSPS By-laws continue to be updated to reflect initiatives generated as a result of our 100% state program. As a result of changes voted upon during the NSPS General Membership meeting on Thursday April 16, the Board of Governors has ceased to exist, and there are no longer Area Directors, due to each state society participating in the program having a Director on the NSPS Board. NSPS also now has full positions for Secretary and Treasurer, and it was confirmed that an AtLarge Director will be elected by the general membership to represent those members who are not members of state societies, or a member of a state society not yet participating in the 100% state/national membership program, and thus have no voting representation on the Board. The Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio is welcoming NSPS with open arms for its fall business meetings in October. We are looking forward to meeting our fellow surveyors in the Buckeye State.

More than 120 NSPS and MAPPS members visited the U.S. Congress on April 15 as part of the two organizations' joint national conference held in Crystal City/Arlington, VA. More than 185 members of Congress were visited by surveying and mapping professionals from 39 states, providing a team that delivered a message about geospatial issues to 78 U.S. Senators, and more than 100 House members. Thanks to the NSPS-MAPPS efforts on Capitol Hill, the Freedom from Government Competition Act was introduced April 28 with House Bill H.R. 2044 garnering 17 original cosponsors, and Senate Bill S. 1116 being offered by two U.S. Senators. The Capitol Hill Day efforts also resulted in the soon to be introduced Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act earning 7 commitments as cosponsors for the House bill, while 2 Senators are working to possibly introduce a version of the bill in that body. Visits by the surveying and mapping delegation produced feedback that 5 House members and 2 Senators will be cosponsors for legislation to accurately locate pipelines and other underground infrastructure in utility and transportation corridors. The day's activities also generated 38 commitments by members of Congress to urge the Appropriations Committees to fully fund the 3DEP program for national elevation data. See for more information.

If you have concerns or questions regarding NSPS or any of its committee’s please contact me. Thank you. Robert R. Miller, PLS | | P: 267-923-8673 ext. 117


Thank you 2015 to our

Sustaining Firm Members

Berntsen International, Inc. Attn: Tim Klaben PO Box 8670 Madison, WI 53708-8670 P: 608-249-8549 F: 608-249-9794

Keystone Aerial Surveys Attn: John Schmitt PO Box 21059 Philadelphia, PA 19114 P: 215-677-3119 F: 215-464-2889

CivilTraining, LLC/SmartDraft Attn: John Cooke 5300 Wellington Branch Drive, Suite 100 Gainesville, VA 20155 P: 732-859-8353 F: 732-377-5454

Keddal Aerial Mapping Attn: Bradley Piper 1121 Boyce Road, #3100 Pittsburgh, PA 15241-3918 P: 724-942-2881 F: 724-942-2885


Keystone Precision Instruments Attn: George Allport Jr. 1670 East Race Street Allentown, PA 18109 P: 800-833-9250 F: 610-266-3240

Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. Attn: Shelley Speelman 369 East Park Drive Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17111 P:717-564-1121 F:717-564-1158

Thank you 2015 to our

Sustaining Firm Members Precision Laser & Instrument Attn: Robert J. Barth 85 11th Street Ambridge, PA 15003 P: 724-266-1600 F: 724-266-8161

Klein Agency, LLC Attn: Mark Amirault PO Box 219 Timonium, MD 21094 P: 410-832-7600 F: 410-832-1849

Nor East Mapping, Inc. Attn: Ron Henry, CP PO Box 270 Kylertown, PA 16847-0270 P: 814-345-1167 F: 814-345-1176

Print-O-Stat, Inc. Attn: Lou Mazero 1011 West Market Street York, PA 17404 P: 717-854-7821 F: 717-846-4084

Oswald Companies Attn: Paula M. Selvaggio, RPLU 3401 Enterprise Parkway, Suite 101 Beachwood, OH 44122-7340 P: 216-839-2815 F: 216-839-2801 Trimble Corporation Attn: Kelly Liberi 10355 Westmoor Drive Westminster, CO 80021 P: 720-587-4606 F: 720-887-6101

Szalankiewicz Engineering, PC Attn: James J. Szalankiewicz Box 206 Elderton, PA 15736 P: 724-354-4852 F: 724-354-4273




PSLS 2015 Inaugural Schedule of Events

Registration Information

Thursday, August 27 7:00 AM Registration Opens 8:00 – 11:30 AM Classes 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM Lunch 1:00 -5:30 PM Classes 6:00 PM Dinner


Friday, August 28 7:00 – 8:00 AM Breakfast 8:00 – 11:30 AM Classes 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM Lunch 1:00 -5:30 PM Classes 5:30 PM – Conference Closes


Email: Phone: Choose Sessions Tracks 1 and 2 are two days sessions. Tracks 3 and 4 are a choice of 2 one day sessions Thursday & Friday  Track 1 OPUS Projects  Track 2 PA Exam Review

Class sizes are limited. Register early to ensure availability.

Track 1: OPUS Projects Thursday & Friday OPUS Projects Track 2: State Specific Exam Review Thursday & Friday PA Exam Review Track 3: Geographic Information Systems Thursday GIS Applications for Surveyors Friday Digital Close Range Photogrammetry Track 4: Specialized Topics Thursday Laser Scanning Friday Dendrology and Wetlands Delineation for Surveyors (Off-site: Transportation, box lunches and beverages will be provided)

Please note: 1. Registration is exclusive to the event and event registrant. Registration may not be shared. 2. Recording presentations is strictly forbidden. Any attendee caught wearing another person’s name badge or recording presentations may be asked to leave the event without compensation or credit.


or Thursday  Track 3 GIS Applications for Surveyors  Track 4 Laser Scanning Friday  Track 3 Digital Close Range Photogrammetry  Track 4 Dendrology and Wetlands Choose Registration Type  PSLS Member $490  Non-member $550 Registration cost includes: workshops, Thursday lunch and dinner, Friday breakfast and lunch, and morning and afternoon refreshment breaks both days. Hotel accommodations are not included in registration fees. Lodging: PSLS has arranged a room block at the Penn Stater for attendees at $109++ per night. For reservations call 1-800-233-7505 and reference PENH15B. Discount ends July 26th.

Payment Options

 Check Enclosed  Invoice Me  Credit Card (VISA / MasterCard / Discover)

____ ____ ____ ____ Expiration Date ____ / ____ Signature

Summer Conference Workshop Descriptions OPUS Projects - 16 PDH

Presented by: Scott Lokken Workshop Outline • Introduction • Step 1: Creating a Project • Step 2: Uploading Data To Your Project • Step 3: Session Processing • Step 4: Network Adjustment • Open Discussion • One-on-one What Is OPUS-Projects? A web-based access to process multiple marks and multiple occupations. • Data uploading through OPUS • Data processing using the PAGES software • Visualization and management aids • Least squares adjustment What’s In This Workshop? By attending this workshop, you should have enough information to successfully use OPUSProjects for your own projects. Once the training is completed, you’ll be given an opportunity to register your email address thereby authorizing you to create and process new OPUS-Projects. A project containing a training data set will be assigned to you. You’ll have an opportunity to work along with the presentations. In addition, time is allotted for you to explore your project individually. Note: Participants in this workshop must bring their own laptop computers to the conference Laptops must have an internet browser (Chrome or Firefox), wifi, and access to email.

Dendrology and Wetlands - 8 PDH

Dendrology: Eric P. Burkhart, PhD. Dendrology is the study of woody plants; typically trees but there are other things such as shrubs and vines that bear similarities to trees so they are studied as well. This portion of the workshop explores the basic skills of woody plant and tree species identification. Wetlands: Persented by Laurel Fisher Mueller Basic Wetlands Recognition: An introduction to plants, hydrology, and hydric soils; significance of land development; surveyor – delineator communication; jurisdictional determination plan requirements. Note: These are hands-on workshops to be presented at Shavers Creek. Transportation will be provided. Dress appropriately. Boots are suggested.

Digital Close Range Photogrammetry - 8 PDH Presented by: Datumate Driven by the rapid evolution of digital photography and personal computing in recent years, close-range photogrammetry with regular cameras and Small UAVs rapidly changes the way surveyors work worldwide. This workshop will review the principles of photogrammetry, introduce real-life case studies of surveying works, and provide practical hands-on best practices (including image capturing with a small UAV & a pole) for drafting plans and making measurements directly on images of regular cameras.

PA Exam Review

Presented by: Various Instructors This review course is intended to assist participants in preparing for the Pennsylvania State Specific Surveyor Exam. The workshop includes reviews in: • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Registration Law Professional Standards Professional Ethics Statute of Limitations & Repose State Plane Coordinates Sanitary Sewer Extensions On-Site Sewage Facilities Permits: HOP, DEP, E&S Utilities Records Research Retracement Surveys Senior Rights Rights-of-way

• • • • • • • • • •

Easements Riparian Rights Writing Boundary Descriptions Municipal Planning Code Condo Law Other Statutes Rational Method & TR-55 Hydraulics & Detention E&S Roadway Design

GIS Applications for Surveyors - 8 PDH

Presented by: Brian Naberezny, PLS, GISP This hands-on workshop will consist of a series of GIS exercises which will demonstrate how surveyors can acquire and utilize geospatial data from various sources. Data from the Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA) website with specific attention paid to LiDAR and its derivatives; specifically contours and DEMs. Data typically sourced from surveyors will be utilized including CAD drawings, coordinates from GPS and Total Station surveys, and scanned plans. We may also examine data from county and municipal sources typically used for planning purposes. In addition to acquiring and manipulating these datasets, we will learn about GIS capabilities that extend beyond the mapping aspect and perform some simple but powerful spatial analysis. Note: Participants in this workshop must bring their own laptop computers to the conference in order to perform the handson exercises. Participants will be asked to install the software and communicate with the course instructor via email prior to the conference to ensure the appropriate software is installed and licensed. Directions will be sent upon registration.

Introduction to 3D Laser Scanning and Measurement - 8 PDH

Presented by: Lukas Duruttya This course gives a basic overview of 3D laser scanning. Experience the technology first hand with a hardware and software demonstration. At the end of this course you’ll have a good understanding of the basic operating principles, 3D image data, applications and platforms, project planning, scanning procedures and digital modeling that comes with 3D laser scanning. We will have a FARO 3d Laser Scanner, FARO Freestyle Handheld Scanner and a UAV (Drone) with us to demonstrate. Class sizes are limited. Register early to ensure availability.


PSLS Young Surveyors Network

By: Chris Jackson, SIT

PSLS Young Surveyors Network Representative

At the conference in January many of you heard about the PSLS Young Surveyors Network (PSLS YSN) for the first time when we officially introduced the network to the society. We added 18 members to our contact list at the conference and since then we have grown to 34 members! This has been a great first step for us but we know there are a lot more Young Surveyors out there. We need your help to get the word out to find those Young Surveyors across PA that we don’t have direct contact with. If you have survey technicians, SITs, or recent PLSs in your company or chapter please let them know about the PSLS YSN. In particular, surveyors age 35 and under, OR students of surveying, OR surveyors in the first 10 years of their career are who we are trying to connect with. There is no additional cost to be involved, and no additional meetings to go to. We just want to connect the Young Surveyors within PA and in the near future hope to provide the opportunity for professional development and social events specifically targeted to the Young Surveyors. Anyone that is interested can find us on Facebook or LinkedIn (search “PSLS Young Surveyors Network”) or they can contact me directly at

PSLS Involvement Opportunities The Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors has opportunities for members to be active in the society and the profession by volunteering for a variety of tasks and programs. Different programs require a different level of commitment varying from short term as little as one day or long term over one or more years. Each of these activities offers members a chance to learn, network, and grow in the profession, while helping the profession to grow and flourish. One of the opportunities for member involvement is writing Professional Articles and Opinions. Articles written by society members make publications such as the PA Surveyor and the PSLS website more valuable to surveyors. Those who volunteer to submit an article in the PA Surveyor or update a webpage need not be professional authors or editors. Some of the best material published by the Society has been written by Surveyors for Surveyors. Whether you have a 2 paragraph opinion paper or a 6 page article with citations and pictures, PSLS will publish all appropriate material where it best serves the public and the profession. To get involved, contact Laurie at or by calling (717) 540-6811.

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The PA Surveyor offer several options for advertising. Did you know that you can publish a business card for only $60 per issue or $200 per year? Check out the rates on the website at www.psls. org or contact Laurie at (717) 540-6811. Anywhere Surveying Equipment John Q. Salesman Need new equipment? Call Anywhere! (800) 555-1212

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2015 NSPS Student Competition Introduction

Field Work

This year was the second year for Penn State Surveying Engineering students to participate in the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Student Competition. The team representing Penn State consisted of Christopher Albee, Aaron Severance, Tyler Shelly, and Alexander Wood and was advised by Brian Naberezny, PLS, GISP. The competition required two topographic surveys of the same two to five acre site to be performed using two different methods. A third topographic dataset of the area needed to be acquired from a third-party source. A method to assess the absolute and relative errors of and between each topographic dataset needed to be developed.


Field work was performed in November and December 2014 starting with a control survey performed using a total station and assumed coordinates. The survey consisted of four control points and seven check points. Each control point was occupied and 1DR observations were made to all visible points. A least squares adjustment was performed on the redundant observations to determine the most probable coordinates for each control and check point. It should be noted that one of the control points was an existing National Geodetic Survey (NGS) control point with known Pennsylvania State Plane Coordinates (PA-SPC) and a GPS-derived orthometric height. A second control point was an existing campus control point with known PA-SPC used for orientation. These two points would be used later to relate the 2015 Competition Topic: total station and RTK-GNSS surveys to the PASDA dataset.

In October and November 2014, the students determined a project site and methodology. A site located on the Penn Error Study of Topographic State Wilkes-Barre campus consisting of The RTK-GNSS topographic survey Mapping Methods approximately 1.5 acres of impervious required a localization to be performed surface, consisting of a parking lot and which used the four control points and tennis courts, and approximately 3.5 was verified using the check points. acres of a sloped open grass field was The RTK-GNSS topographic survey was identified. The topographic survey methodologies of performed using a 50 foot grid with each point being a total station and Real-Time Kinematic GNSS (RTK- marked with a chaining pin or keel mark. Points were GNSS) were chosen in order to determine if the accuracy observed for five epochs at a one second sampling rate. between the two methodologies was comparable for The total station topographic survey was performed by a one foot contour interval. The third-party dataset occupying two of the control points and performing selected was PA MAP two foot contours available from sideshots to each point on the 50 foot grid previously Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA) which were marked during the RTK-GNSS topographic survey. derived from airborne LiDAR. The absolute and relative errors would be assessed using a surface-based comparison. Both topographic surveys and the PA MAP contours would be used to generate a surface. In order to assess the absolute accuracy for each dataset, the horizontal coordinates for check points would be used to obtain a surface derived elevation and the difference between this value and the known check point elevation would be computed. These differences would be evaluated with regards to the U.S. National Map Accuracy Standards (NMAS) and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy (NSSDA). The relative errors between datasets would be evaluated using surface derived elevations for twenty randomly generated points, the FGDC NSSDA, and F tests to determine the statistical equivalence of each dataset.

Analysis This phase of the project proved the most educational as a few weaknesses and oversights in project planning and execution were identified. The detailed analysis is too lengthy to present here but ultimately it was determined that all three datasets satisfied the NMAS and FGDC NSSDA standards for their respective vertical accuracies of one foot or two foot contours. What proved most interesting were the results of the F tests. Using the F statistic to compare the total station survey to the PA MAP contours and the RTK-GNSS survey to the PA MAP contours indicated these datasets were not statistically equivalent. This result was expected as the total station and RTK-GNSS surveys were one foot contours and the PA MAP contours were two foot. Also, the total Continued on Page 26


Continued from Page 25

station and RTK-GNSS surveys have a similar terrestrial methodology while the PA MAP contours were derived from airborne LiDAR. The final F test compared the total station and RTK-GNSS surveys and suggested these two methodologies are equivalent for one foot contours when surveying a site with limited obstructions. This result was one of the main learning objectives for the project and settled the debate as to whether or not RTKGNSS is suitable for performing topographic surveys in favorable conditions.

Judging The student’s work was documented in a thirty page technical paper which was submitted to a panel of three judges in mid-March 2015. On April 13, 2015 students from seven surveying schools across the country gathered at the NSPS Conference in Washington D.C. to present their projects and final judging. Each school presented a twenty minute oral presentation followed by ten minutes of questions from the judges and the audience. Schools were also required to present a poster

outlining the project. Scores from all three judges on the paper, oral presentation, and poster were combined to determine the winners. Ultimately the students from Penn State took third place in the competition. While the students were hoping to place higher than they did, they walked away proud of their performance and with practical knowledge of survey planning and execution not typically acquired through typical coursework.

Acknowledgements Many individuals and organizations offered their support to the students. Participation would not be possible without financial contributions from the PSLS Education Committee and the PLS Foundation. Each contributed $425 to support student travel which was used to obtain $3,200 in matching funds from Penn State. Members of the PSLS Education Committee and Penn State Surveying Engineering Program Industrial Advisory Committee provided valuable feedback on the student’s presentations. Congratulations gentlemen! PSLS is proud to call you members.

L-R: Professor Brian Naberezy, Christopher Albee, Alexander Wood, Tyler Shelly, Aaron Severance.


New Members

Please join us in welcoming these new members

Allegheny Heartlands Jerron Atkin, PLS & CFedS James Savage Francis Joseph Lantzy, PLS James Savage

Northeast Julie G. Deemie Shawn M. Donohue, PLS Frank A. Grabowski, P.L.S. Mark M. McCullough, PLS

Bucks Patrick A. Cavanaugh, PLS

Pocono Joseph Andrew Johnson, SIT

Delaware Valley John Wesley Hardin Shaun F. Higgins, PLS Pat K. Hippo, PLS William J. Izzo, PLS David Landrecht Roderick I. Wood Robert Worthington, PLS

PCT Student Kyle T. Smithmyer

Harrisburg Preston Byers, MS, PLS Ron Lewis,PLS Laurel Highlands Daryl M. Throckmorton Member At Large Keith E. Bailey, PLS Malachi Doane Cory S. Jennings Tyler Schucker Timothy Slaven William T Sprague II, PE, PLS

Reading Brian Hockley, PLS Grant Allen Anderson, P.E., S.I.T. South Central Nicole J. Tocco Southwest Travis W. Anderson Matthew M. Flaus, SIT David Huston Kevin F. Lira, PLS Todd Lubic Adam Zweig Susquehanna Eric Henneberger Sustaining Firm Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc.

Mid-State Joab Carter, PLS

Welcome 27

Student Spotlight - Heather Nicholson This column intends to recognize outstanding students currently or formerly enrolled in a surveying program in Pennsylvania. There is no better way to kick off the first spotlight than by focusing on Heather Nicholson. Heather is a May 2015 B.S. Surveying Engineering graduate from Penn State. While at Penn State, Heather has not only excelled academically but she has worked for the betterment of her classmates and the profession. It is impossible to document all of Heather’s achievements and contributions as they are numerous and she often keeps them to herself. Here are a few highlights. Heather was active in the Penn State Surveying Society, a student chapter of PSLS, where she stepped into leadership roles on several occasions. Most notably, Heather organized over 30 student volunteers at the 2015 PSLS Surveyors’ Conference and has been instrumental in the execution of the Boy Scout Merit Badge events in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, Heather served as the President of the Wilkes-Barre Chapter of the Lambda Sigma National Surveying Engineering Honor Society. Under Heather’s leadership, Lambda Sigma implemented a mentoring program where

upperclassmen are assigned to freshman to assist them with their studies and the transition to college. Heather’s academic and leadership achievements have led to several accolades. Heather was named a 20132015 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Scholar. This scholarship includes two years of academic financial assistance and an internship. Heather’s internship was with the National Geodetic Survey and a portion of her work was documented in a paper that was awarded the National Society of Professional Surveyors Student Project of the Year. The Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus has recognized Heather with the John R. Murphy Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service and the Luzerne County Council on Adult Higher Education named her the Penn State Wilkes-Barre 2015 Outstanding Adult Learner. Heather is spending her summer working for Bercek And Smith Engineering Inc. and will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada this fall.

SAVE THE DATE PAFPM Annual Fall Meeting Flood Resilient Communities: A Capitol Challenge September 16-17, 2015 – Crowne Plaza Harrisburg

Details forthcoming by e-mail and at

PAFPM Mission: To provide education and leadership for consistent and effective floodplain management


Affiliate of the year Award Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors (PSLS) is the 2015 winner of the NSPS State Affiliate of the Year award. This is awarded based on membership, services and chapter activities. PSLS also won this award in 2014. The application was submitted in February, 2015 with information, reports and samples from the following categories: Membership and Services Chapter Activities and Annual Conference Communications and Public Relations

NSPS Affiliate of the Year Award Application Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors

President: Adam D. Crews, PLS, CPECS Business Manager: Laurie Troutman

Members: 962

Education and Professional Development Legislative Activities

Reaching New Heights

Affiliate of National Society of Professional Surveyors

Student Activities

January 30, 2015

NSPS Student Project of the Year Award

The NSPS Student Project of the Year winner for 2015 is Heather Nicholson, a student at Penn State University. This award is presented based on the following criteria: originality; creativity; uniqueness; practical application; and overall quality of the paper. Please join PSLS in congratulating Ms. Nicholson on this outstanding achievement.


Ramblings by Chuck by Charles D. Ghilani, Ph.D.

Error Ellipses Introduction The 2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA–ACSM Land Title Surveys define the relative precision as: “Relative Positional Precision” means the length of the semi-major axis, expressed in feet or meters, of the error ellipse representing the uncertainty due to random errors in measurements in the location of the monument, or witness, marking any corner of the surveyed property relative to the monument, or witness, marking any other corner of the surveyed property at the 95 percent confidence level (two standard deviations). Relative Positional Precision is estimated by the results of a correctly weighted least squares adjustment of the survey.” (ALTA/ACSM, 2011) In this article I will present the foundations for the error ellipse.

Standard Error Rectangle and Error Ellipse So what is an error ellipse? One of the advantages of a least squares adjustment over other methods is that a byproduct of the adjustment is not only the most probable values for the unknowns but also standard deviations on these values. Suppose for a moment that we are computing the coordinates of station B shown in Figure 1 using an azimuth AZAB with an uncertainty of ±4" and a distance AB with an uncertainty of ±0.03 ft. Even if we consider the coordinates of station A to be perfect, the coordinates of B will have uncertainties of Sx and Sy due to the errors in the azimuth and distance. This uncertainty in the coordinates for the position of B result in a standard error rectangle that surrounds B. This rectangle represents the area that the true coordinates of station B will be about 68% of the time. It will have dimensions of 2Sx by 2Sy. However the standard error rectangle does not depict the actual error in the coordinates. This is where an error ellipse comes in. As shown in Figure 1, the standard error ellipse is bounded by the standard error rectangle. It is the results of the bivariate (xy variables) distribution shown in Figure 2(a). If Figure 2(a) is contoured, Figure 2(b) is the results. Figure 2(b) depicts error ellipses at various levels of probability. As can be seen in Figure 1, the bivariate distribution does not completely fill the standard


Figure 1: The standard error rectangle and error elipse

error rectangle. What is does show is the bounds of the possible coordinate values that could exist at station B given the uncertainty in both the azimuth and length of line AB. The larger the error ellipse, the more likely it contains the true coordinates for station B. In essence, we know that the coordinates contain error. Given the observational errors, the error ellipses show the bounds of the region that contains the true coordinates. Thus what the 2011 ALTA-ACSM survey standards are stating is that you

Figure 2 (a) A wire diagram of a bivariate distribution and (b) the isogonic lines of a contour plot of (a). must be within 0.07 ft of the true coordinates of a station 95% of the time. This means that 95% of the time a competent surveyor can come within 0.07 ft in a subsequent resurvey. Quite honestly, the standards also allow for an additional 50 ppm for the distance between the two stations being tested. However this would add only an additional 0.004 ft for a 500 ft distance between stations or 0.016 ft for a 1000 ft distance. In essence, it does not increase significantly increase the allowable error for typical distances encountered in surveying practice in Pennsylvania where the standards are likely to be applied.

Computation of Error Ellipses The parts of the error ellipse are shown in Figure 3. The t angle is the amount of rotation that is required to make the correlation between the (n, e) pair of coordinates equal to zero. It is measured from the positive Y axis. The major axis of the ellipse is the U axis and the minor is the V axis. The length of the semimajor of the ellipse is given by Su, which corresponds to the largest error component at the station and the length of the semiminor axis of the ellipse is given by Sv, which is the smallest error at station. One of the advantages of a least squares adjustment is that it has a statistical basis. Thus at the end of the adjustment uncertainties in the coordinates can be computed, which are the standard deviations in the northing and easting coordinates. However as was previously stated,

Figure 3 Components of the standard error ellipse.


these uncertainties are not in the direction of the largest error at the station typically. They are also correlated. Correlation means that as one coordinate at a station changes the other must also. This can be seen in Figure 1, where if we change the value of the northing for station B then the easting must also change to maintain the azimuth of AB. The Pearson correlation coefficient is defined as

Equation (1)

where σn is the standard deviation in the northing, σe the standard deviation in the easting, and σne the covariance between the two unknowns. For example, assume we have the covariance matrix, Sxx, shown in Equation (2) from an adjustment of a horizontal survey involving only two stations with unknown coordinates. The survey had only two stations with unknown (n, e) coordinates. Highlighted in bold font is the variance in northing of 0.022169, covariance in the two unknowns of −0.021460, and variance in easting of 0.048736. The square roots of the variances for each of these diagonal elements, which are ±0.149 and ±0.221, would yield the northing and easting standard deviations for the station coordinates. We see that these elements are correlated since the immediate off-diagonal is not equal to zero with a value of −0.021460. This number indicates that as the northing of the station changes so must the easting.

By Equation (1) the correlation coefficient for the unknowns is

Equation (2)

Equation (3)

The correlation coefficient is always between −1 and +1. If it is negative, one unknown will decrease as the other increases. If they are positive both unknowns will increase or decrease together. The closer to zero the coefficient is, the less correlation exists between the two unknowns. As can be seen from Equation (3), the two unknowns are negatively correlated meaning that as the northing increases the easting must decrease. To obtain the maximum error at a station, the correlation between the pair of coordinate values must be removed. This can be done with using a two-dimensional rotation and error propagation. While the actual computations are not important, the resulting values used to compute the error ellipse are of importance in this discussion. To determine the maximum error


at this station, the covariance matrix elements for this station must be rotated by the amount of

Equation (4)

where Sne is the covariance at the station, which is the off-diagonal element −0.021460, See is the variance in the easting, which is 0.048736, Snn is the variance in the northing, which is 0.022169, and C equal to 180° was added to the results of the arctangent function, which was −58.243°, to obtain a positive rotation angle. Once the rotation angle is determined, the variances of the semi-major axis, Suu, and semiminor axis, Svv, can be computed as

Equation (5)

In this example Suu is 0.060691, which results in the length of the semi-major axis for the ellipse, Su, of ±0.246, and Svv is 0.010214, which results in the length of the semi-minor axis for the ellipse, Sv, of ±0.101.

Error Ellipses of Higher Probability

The previous computations yield what is known as the standard error ellipse. The probability that the true coordinates for B are in the error ellipse are relatively low. That is there is only a 35% to 39% probability that the true coordinates for station B are in the area bounded by the standard error ellipse. Typically standards want a higher confidence level on the region that contains the true coordinates. This simply means we need to select a higher probability from the bivariate distribution as shown in Figure 2. This can be achieved with a simply multiplier using a critical F distribution value, and is given as

Equation (6)

where multiplier is dependent on the number of degrees of freedom, or redundancies, that are in the adjustment. The higher the number of redundant measurements, which means the higher the number of checks on the measurements, the lower the multiplier. For example, suppose the adjustment had 4 redundant observations. To determine the size of the 95% error ellipse, we will need the critical value from the F distribution for F1−0.95,2,4 which is 6.94. This means the multiplier c will be 2(6.94) = 3.73. Thus, using Su, which was computed as ±0.246, the maximum 95% error at

the station is ±0.918 (3.73×0.246). Now assume that the state plane ne coordinates in units of feet for the two stations in this example are (391,043.29, 2,415,776.90) and (387,603.26, 2,416,892.70). The distance between these stations, which are property corners is 3,616.46 ft. This means that by ALTA-ACSM standards the maximum allowable error between these two stations is

Equation (7)


Obviously, this station did not pass the ALTA-ACSM quality standards, which only allows the maximum error at any station to be ±0.07 ft + 50 ppm between any two corners. Often the critical F values can be determined for any number of degrees of freedom for an adjustment in spreadsheets. In Microsoft Excel, the command is “=FINV(0.05,2,dof )” where dof is the number of degrees of freedom in the adjustment, which is the number of redundant observations. Table 1 Critical F value and c multiplier for various degrees of freedom. Degrees of Freedom (dof) F0.05,2,dof 3 9.55 4 6.94 5 5.79 7 4.74 10 4.10 15 3.68 20 3.49 25 3.39 50 3.09


4.371 3.727 3.402 3.078 2.865 2.714 2.643 2.602 2.523

Since a simple closed traverse only has three degrees of freedom, this means that standard practice traverses will always have multipliers of 4.371. This multiplier will make meeting the ALTA–ACSM accuracy standards extremely difficult. Since the number of degrees of freedom is critical to obtaining a low c multiplier, you can now see why I suggest that you make a habit of always obtaining the backsight distance when you are performing a traverse. This process takes very little extra time since it is typically part of the setup in your controller software. These extra distance observations should be entered into the least squares adjustment as observed and not averaged with their forward counterparts. Additionally you can always close the angular horizon at every traverse station to increase the number of redundant observations. This may seem like considerable extra work and time but even for the beginning user this is not the case when you consider this against the time it takes to get to the station, set up your backsight and foresight targets, and observe one angle, and tear down the setup. The horizon closure angle will allow your field crews to catch their mistakes before they become a problem in the office. Ask yourself how many times a crew has had to return to the fix a mistake made earlier, and compare this against the seconds it takes to measure an additional angle once everything is setup.

Conclusions Hopefully this article gives you some insight into the meaning and relevance of an error ellipse, and how to check it against the ALTA–ACSM standards. Stated again, the error ellipse provides a region around your station where the true coordinates for the station may reside. The standard error ellipse has a probability of containing the true coordinates of the station only 35% to 39% of the time. However using the F distribution, a multiplier can be determined to compute the size of the error ellipse for any percentage Ghilani, Charles D. 2012. “Sampling Statistics: The t Distribution.” The Pennsylvania Surveyor, Summer. –––––. 2013. “A Correctly Weighted Least Squares Adjustment.” The Pennsylvania Surveyor, Winter/Spring.


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