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Short Course: Hydrographic Survey (Inland) Course

Hydrographic Survey (Inland) Course

Course aims & structure


  • To introduce hydrographic surveying – core values and basic principles – with the emphasis on inland waters and the Environment Agency specification
  • To equip students with an introductory understanding of the underlying concepts and theory
  • To develop an appreciation for the expected precision and accuracy of hydrographic measurements and outcomes
  • To raise awareness of the most commonly used methods and equipment
  • Develop an appreciation for the different environmental conditions encountered when surveying inland waters


  • Formal lectures augmented with PPT presentation and interjected with group discussion. All lecture notes will be provided together with handouts for private study and reference.

Hydrographic Surveys

  • Needs for Inland Water surveys
  • What is a hydrographic Survey?

Inland Waters

  1. Rivers
  • Material transport and deposition
  • Rivers above the tidal limit
  • River control and management
  • Tidal rivers and estuaries
  • River surveying
  • Law, ownership and permits
  1. Canals (narrow)
  • General form
  • Sedimentation
  • Engineering works
  • Surveying
  1. Natural lakes / reservoirs / storage ponds
  • Natural lakes
  • Reservoirs and artificial lakes
  • Industrial ponds


  • Need for Control
  • Environment Agency specification
  • Positioning solutions

Vertical Datums

  • Rivers
  • River estuaries
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Canals
  • Tides

Introduction to Acoustics

Single Beam Sounding

  • Principles, functions
  • Sounding operations
  • Wrecks and obstructions, side echoes, fluid muds

Swath Bathmetry

  • Multibeam systems – Beamformers, Backscatter, Interferometric
  • Calibration
  • Sidescan sonar

Sensors, imaging and Sampling

  • Vessel dynamics and monitoring
  • Acoustic scanning sonars / laser scanning systems
  • Cameras and sampling systems
  • Hydrology

Specifications, Standards and Error Budgets

  • Environment Agency: National Standard Technical Specifications for Surveying Services
  • Marine and Coastguard Agency: UK Civil Hydrography Program Survey Specification
  • Standards: IHO S-44, S-44 definitions
  • Navigation standards vs Engineering standards
  • Uncertainty budgets, Sources of Error, Parameter errors

Survey Platforms & Waterways Guidance

  • Survey platforms / craft
  • Radio controlled and autonomous platforms
  • Airborne hydrographic lidar
  • Remote Operated Vehicles (rovs)
  • Waterways guidance and licensing

Planning, Processing, Training

  • Planning
  • Data processing and presentation
  • Contour or feature – getting it right
  • Training

Practical Surveys [Group discussion, applying what has been learned]

Dredging surveys

Engineering & civil works’ surveys

Enviromental / hydrological

  • Permits
  • Planning / operational considerations