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Legend of Symbols Used by Land Surveyors

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Land surveyors are responsible for looking at the land and then translating it to cartographers through symbols and colors as to what they should put on the map and how it should be represented. There are a number of different symbols surveyors use to explain the wide variety of land regions which are out there. These are important for both surveyors and cartographers to know so that maps can be as accurate as possible.

Vegetation Key

Vegetation is always symbolized with the color green on land surveyors maps. Thick vegetation of trees or foliage over six feet high is a solid green color and is usually a darker green based on how dense the forest or vegetation is. Dotted green, with the dots haphazardly spaced is signifies scrub and low brush, while organized green dots and squares signifies orchard planted vegetation, farms or vineyards. Large areas of green with branches and leaves drawn in, almost looking like wallpaper, usually signifies a tropical area or a mangrove and is usually alongside a large body of water.

Features on the Surface Key

For areas that are man-made or the result of water or large deposits of stone or sediment, there are a whole other variety of symbols. A levee is symbolized by a straight thick line or sometimes a dotted line, usually crossing a river, creek or other small body of blue water. Dotted brown areas signify sand dunes or shifting sand, while an intricate surface area that has rocks, sand and many other layers has a large number of small brown dots placed very close together or brown symbols that are synonymous with the markings on a tiger. Dashed lines contained in a circular shape often signify a tailings pond.

Rivers, Lakes and Dam Key

Rivers, lakes and canals are another one of the main things a land surveyor must know how to represent through symbols on a map. Always colored in blue, the thickness of the line on a map often signifies the size of the body of water. Small streams that come and go based on rainfall and runoff are faint, thin blue lines. The most the stream is active, the thicker the blue line. When it is a perennial river, two thick lines border a shade of blue, showing that there is always a source of flowing water there. Falls and rapids are denoted with dashes within a perennial river's blue area. Lakes are simply spots of blue with borders that mirror the coastline of the lake itself. Dams are signified by black lines which have a large amount of blue on one side of them (the lake or reservoir) and a small stream of blue on the other (the river or stream flowing into them).