Prismatic compass surveying, also known as magnetic compass surveying, is a technique used in surveying to determine the direction or bearing of a line. Here are four advantages and three disadvantages of prismatic compass surveying:

Advantages of Prismatic Compass Surveying:

  1. Simplicity: Prismatic compass surveying is relatively simple and easy to use. The equipment is portable, lightweight, and does not require complex setup or calibration procedures. It is a cost-effective method for determining basic compass bearings in the field.
  2. Quick Measurements: Prismatic compasses allow for quick measurements of magnetic bearings. Surveyors can take multiple readings in a short period, facilitating efficient data collection. This makes prismatic compass surveying suitable for rapid reconnaissance surveys or preliminary assessments.
  3. Independence from External Power: Prismatic compasses do not require external power sources such as batteries or electrical connections. They rely on magnetic principles, making them reliable and functional even in remote areas or situations where power supply may be limited or unavailable.
  4. Suitable for Rough Terrain: Prismatic compass surveying can be conducted in rough or uneven terrains where other surveying methods, such as theodolite surveying, may be challenging. It is particularly useful for traversing through dense vegetation, hills, or areas with limited visibility.

Disadvantages of Prismatic Compass Surveying:

  1. Magnetic Interference: Prismatic compasses are susceptible to magnetic interference from nearby metallic objects, electric currents, or magnetic fields. This interference can cause inaccuracies in the readings and affect the overall reliability of the survey data. Care must be taken to minimize such interferences.
  2. Limited Accuracy: Prismatic compasses have limited accuracy compared to more precise surveying instruments like theodolites or total stations. The accuracy is affected by factors such as magnetic declination, magnetic anomalies, and magnetic disturbances in the survey area. This can result in reduced precision and potential errors in the final survey measurements.
  3. Inability to Measure Inclination: Prismatic compasses are primarily designed to measure horizontal angles or bearings and cannot measure vertical angles or inclinations. This limitation makes it unsuitable for tasks that require accurate elevation measurements, such as contour mapping or detailed topographic surveys. Additional instruments or techniques are needed to capture vertical information.

It’s important to note that while prismatic compass surveying has its advantages and disadvantages, its suitability depends on the specific survey requirements, the terrain, and the desired level of accuracy. Professional surveyors often choose the most appropriate surveying method based on the project’s needs and conditions.

Published by


IAM experienced geography teacher with more than three years of teaching and creating content related to geography and other subjects for both high school and college students. hope you will find the content of this website useful to your studies and daily life

%d bloggers like this: