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Methods of Measuring Area


Division of the tract into simple figures( triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids)
Offset from a straight line
Double-meridian distances

Area by Division into Simple Figures

A tract can usually be divided into simple geometric figures such as triangles,
rectangles, or trapezoids. The sides and angles of these figures can be observed in
the field and their individual areas calculated and totaled. An example of a parcel
subdivided into triangle is shown in the figure below.

Fig. 1 Area determination by triangles

Formulas for computing areas of rectangles and trapezoids are well known. The area
of a triangle whose lengths of sides are known can be computed by the formula

where a, b, and c are the lengths of sides of the triangle and s = (a+b+c).
Another formula for the area of a triangle is

where C is the angle included between sides a and b.

The choice of whether to use either of this equation will depend on the triangle
parts that are most conveniently determined; a decision ordinarily dictated by the
nature of the area and the type of equipment available.
Area by Offsets from Straight Lines
Irregular tracts can reduced to a series of trapezoid by observing right-angle offsets
from points along a reference line. The reference line is usually marked by
stationing, and positions where offsets are observed are given by their stations and
pluses. The spacing between offsets may be either regular or irregular, depending
on the conditions. This two cases are discussed in the subsections that follow.
a. Regularly Spaced Offsets
Offset at regularly spaced intervals are shown in the figure below. For this
case, the area is found by the formula.

Where b is the length of a common interval between offsets, h0, h1, ,hn are
the offsets. The regular interval for the example shown on the figure below is
half a station or 50-ft.

Fig. 2 Area by Offsets

Compute the area of the tract shown in the figure 2.
Area = 50( 0 + 5.2 + 8.7 + 9.2 + 4.9 + 10.4 + 5.2 + 12.2
+2.8/2 )
= 2860 ft2
In this example, a summation of offsets (terms within parentheses) can be secured
by the paper-strip method, in which the area is plotted to scale and the mid-

ordinate of each trapezoid is successively added by placing tick marks on a long

strip of paper. The area is then obtained by making a single measurement between
the first and last tick marks, multiplying by the scale to convert it to a field distance,
and then by multiplying by width b.

b. Irregularly Spaced Offsets

For irregularly curved boundaries like that in figure below, the spacing of
offsets along the reference lines varies. Spacing should be selected so that
the curved boundary is accurately defined when adjacent offset points on it
are connected by straight lines. A formula for calculating area for this case is

Fig. 3 Area by offsets for a tract with a curved boundary

where a, b, c, are varying offset spaces, and h0, h1, h2, are the observed
Compute the area of the tract shown in the figure 3.
Area = [60(7.2 + 11.9) + 80(11.9 + 14.4) + 100(14.4 + 6.0) +
30(6.0 + 6.1)
+ 105(6.1 + 11.8) + 60(11.8 + 12.4)]
= 4490 ft2
Area by Coordinates
Computation of are within a closed polygon is most frequently done by the
coordinate method. In this procedure, coordinates of each angle point in the figure
must be known. They are normally obtained by traversing, although any method
that yields the coordinates of these points is appropriate. If traversing is used,
coordinates of the stations are computed after adjustment of the departures and
latitudes. The coordiate method is easily visualized; it reduces to one simple
equation that applies to all geometric configurations of closed polygons.

The procedure for computing areas by coordinates can be developed with reference
to figure 4. As shown in that, it is convenient toadopt a reference coordinate system
with X and Y axes passing through the most southerly and the most westerly
stations, respectively. Lines BB, CC, DD, and EE in the figure are constructed
perpendicular to the Y axis. These lines create a series of trapezoids and triangles
(shown by different color shadings). The area enclosed with traverse ABCDEA can
be expressd in terms of the areas of these individual trapezoids and triangles.


The area of each trapezoid, for example EEDDE can be expressed in terms of
lengths as
AreaEEDDE = EE + DD x ED
In terms of coordinate values, this same area EEDDE is
AreaEEDDE = XE + XD (YE - YD)

Fig. 4 Area by Coordinate Method

Each of the trapezoids and triangles of the Equation 1 can be expressed by

coordinates in a similar manner. Substituting these coordinate expressions into
Equation 1, multiplying 2 to clear fractions, and rearranging


The equation above can be reduced to an easily remembered form by listing the X
and Y coordinates of each point in succession in two columns, as shown in the
equation below, with the coordinates of the starting point repeated at the end. The
products noted by diagonal arrows are ascertained with dashed arrows considered
plus and solid ones minus. The algebraic summation of all products is computed
and its absolute value divided by 2 to get the area.

The procedure indicated in Equation (3) is applicable to calculating any size
traverse. The following formula, easily derived from Equation (2), is a variation that
can also be used.

The figure below illustrates the same traverse as Figure 4. The computations in the
table apply to this traverse. Coordinate values shown in the below, however, result
from shifting the axes so that XA = 0.00 (A is the most westerly station) and Y C =
0.00 (C is the most southerly station). This was accomplished by subtracting
10,000.00 (the value of XA) from all coordinates, and subtracting 4408.22 (the value
of YC) from all Y coordinates. Compute the traverse Area by coordinate method. All
units are in feet.

Fig. 5 Traverse for computation area by coordinates

Computation Of Area by Coordinates

Area by Double-Meridian Distance Method

The area within a closed figure can also be computed by the double-meridian
distance (DMD) method. This procedure requires balanced departures and latitudes
of the tracts boundary lines, which are normally obtained in traverse computations.
The DMD method is not as commonly used as the coordinate method because it is
not as convenient, but given the data from an adjusted traverse, it yield the same
answer. The DMD method is useful for checking answers obtained by coordinate
method when performing hand computations.
By definition, the meridian distance of a traverse course is the perpendicular
distance from the midpoint of the course to the reference meridian. To ease the
problem of signs, a reference meridian usually is placed the most westerly traverse
In the figure 6, the meridian distances of courses AB, BC, CD, DE, and EA are MM,
PP, QQ, RR, and TT, respectively. To express PP in terms of convenient distances,
MF and BG are drawn perpendicular to PP. Then

PF + FG + GP

meridian distance of AB + departure of AB +

departure of BC
Thus, the meridian distance for any course of a traverse equals the meridian
distance of the preceding course plus one half the departure of the preceding
course plus half the departure of the course itself. It is simpler to employ full
departures of courses. Therefore, DMDs equal to twice the meridian distances that
are used, and a single division by 2 is made at the end of the computation.

Fig. 6 Meridian distances and Traverse area computation by DMD Method

Based on the consideration described, the following general rue can be applied in
calculating DMDs: The DMD for any traverse course is equal to the DMD of the
preceding course, plus the departure of the preceding course, plus the departure of
the course itself. Signs of the departures must be considered. When the reference
meridian is taken through the most westerly station of a closed traverse and
calculations of the DMDs are started with a course through that station, the DMD of
the first course is its departure. Applying these rules, for the traverse in Figure 6
DMD of AB = departure of AB
DMD of BC = DMD of AB + departure of AB + departure of BC
A check on all computations is obtained if the DMD of the last course, after
computing around the traverse, is also equal to its departure but has the opposite
sign. If there isadifference, the departures were notcorrectly adjusted before
starting, or a mistake was madein the computations. With reference to Figure 12.6,
the area enclosed by taverse ABCDEA may be expressed in terms of trapezoid areas
(shown by different color shading) as
The area of each figure equals the meridian distance of a course times its balanced
latitude. For example, the area of trapezoid CCDDC = QQ x CD, where QQ and
C D are the meridian distance and latitude, respectively, of line CD. The DMD of a
course multiplied by its latitude equals double the area. Thus, the algebraic
summation of all double areas gives twice the area inside the entire traverse. Signs

of the products of DMDs and latitudes must be considered. If the reference line is
passed through the most westerly station, all the DMDs are positive. The products of
DMDs and north latitudes are therefore plus and those of DMDs and south latitudes
are minus.
Using the balanced departures and latitudes listed in the table below for the
traverse of the figure 6, compute the DMDs of all courses.

Computation of DMD

Using the DMD determined in the previous problem, calculate the area within the
Computation of Area by DMD

Computation for area by DMDs are generally arranged as in Table 12.4, although a
combined form may be substituted. Sums of positive and negative double areas are
obtained, and the absolute value of the smaller subtracted from that of the larger.
The result is divided by 2 to get the area (272,600 ft) and by 43,560 to obtain the
number of acres (6.258). note that the answer agrees with the one obtained using
the coordinate method.
If the total of minus double areas is larger than the total of plus values, it signifies
only that DMDs were computed by going around the traverse in a clockwise
The area of a tract that has a circular curve for one boundary, as in Figure 12.7, can
be found by dividing the figure into two parts: polygon ABCDEGFA and sector EGF.
The radius R = EG = FG and either central angle = EGF or

Length EF must be known or computed to permit calculation of sector area EGF. If R

and central angle are known, then the area of sector is


R (


If chord length EF is known, angle = 2sin(EF/2R), and the preceding equation is

used to calculate the sector area. To obtain the tracts total area, the sector area is
added to area ABCDEGFA found by either the coordinate or DMD method.
Another method that can be used is to compute the area of the traverse ABCDEFA,
and then add the area of the segment, which is the region between the arc and
chord EF. The area of segment is found as
Area of segment = 0.5R( sin )
Where is expressed in radian units.