What do we do?
As Surveyors we are responsible for measuring and mapping the earths' surface. Traditionally, surveyors establish official land, airspace, and water boundaries. We write descriptions of land for deeds, leases, and other legal documents; we define airspace for airports; and take measurements of construction and mineral sites.
We also provide data relevant to the shape, contour, location, elevation, or dimension of land or land features. We measure distances, directions, and angles between points and elevations of points, lines, and contours on, above, and below the earths surface. In the field we select known survey reference points, and determine the precise location of important features in the survey area.
We always research legal records, look for evidence of previous boundaries, and analyze the data to determine the location of boundary lines. We record the results of our surveys, verify the accuracy of data, and prepare plats, maps, and reports. We are sometimes called to provide expert testimony in court cases concerning matters pertaining to surveying or a survey we have prepared..
How do we know what to do?
The practice of finding boundaries is neither a purely legal process, nor a purely scientific process. It is something in between with a twist. As boundary surveyors we must be cognizant of the legal description of the land and any conflicts which may affect it. This involves not only knowledge but skills in research and investigation. Then we must be part archeologist to find physical evidence of previous surveys and occupation on the ground. Throughout this process we must understand the concepts of good measurements to find and describe what is found, and be able to interpret it's relationship to the record.
In the end it can be rewarding and fun, sort of mathematical detective work, with archeology, dendrology, geology and paralegal aspects thrown in. So we sometimes use the old saying "Land surveying is both an art and a science".