Lesson 5: Mobile Mapping Fundamentals

Nicolas MalloyAuthor: Nicolas R. Malloy


5.1 Overview


Land survey is the direct application of geodesy, linking mathematical models of the earth to physical reality though precise field measurements. Land survey measures and defines positional information on the earth, which is a key component of geospatial science.  While you may not expect to achieve a surveyors level of precision, at some point it is likely that geospatial fieldwork you do will involve some form of measurement related to position, elevation, perimeter, or area. This kind of mapping data in the field is what I refer to as mobile mapping.

Lesson 5 presents a series of methods and equipment for mapping data out in the field. This lesson differs from others due to the hands on nature of field collection that is difficult to translate into an online course. The activities included in this lesson will have far less focus on software, and include some outdoor activities that you will have to perform on your own. I hope you find them both enjoyable and interesting.

Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate ways of defining direction on a map
  • Determine declination for a specific region
  • Perform conversions between different direction systems
  • Describe components of an orienteering compass
  • Practice methods for orienteering and ranging using a compass and a USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
  • Explain field methods for position and measure using triangulation, trilateration, and traverse
  • Discuss the principles behind the Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Identify sources of GPS error and inaccuracy
  • List ways of augmenting GPS Accuracy
  • Summarize the limitation of GPS technology
  • Complete a data collection plan for a project


Navigating Lesson 5 Page Sections


The table of contents menu on the right outlines individual pages for this lesson. While reading, you may also navigate through pages using the numbered pagination links at the bottom of each page.