What Is Chain Surveying?

Chain surveying is a type of survey in which the surveyor takes measurements in the field and then completes plot calculations and other processes in the office. Chain surveying is best used for smaller planes with few details.

Chain surveys require a chain, tape, ranging rods, arrows and a time-cross staff. Main stations make up the boundaries of the survey and are located at the end of each line, called main survey lines or chain lines. Points marked along the chain lines are called subsidiary or tie stations. They locate details such as fences and buildings. The line drawn through the center of the plane is called the base line.

The surveyor begins the process by creating a preliminary sketch of the plane and inspecting the details. This first step is known as reconnaissance. Then the surveyor creates the required number of stations for the plane. Then comes the creation of the base line, followed by the stations outlining the boundaries of the plane. Once all of the points have been set and the lines have been placed, the surveyor enters the data into a field book. The rest of the process is completed in an office, usually on a computer.