"The prosperity of an island nation depends greatly on the extent to which it achieves excellence in hydrography" – Commodore R. Nairn RAN, Hydrographer of Australia, 2010


The hydrographic surveyor is a specialist in precise positioning and data acquisition in marine environments, expected to work in a wide range of differing situations and applications from inland waters and rivers, to ports and the deep oceans. The effects of wind, waves, changing land and sea levels all necessitate coastal protection. The hydrographic surveyor is a key member of a team comprising planners, ecologists, civil engineers and others dedicated to the acquisition and application of data necessary for monitoring and protection of the environment.

Navigation, oil, gas and mineral resource exploration and recovery, dredging, coastal works, bridge and port construction, submarine pipeline and telephone cable construction, environmental monitoring, aquaculture and oceanographic research are all crucially dependant on the hydrographic surveyor for accurate, reliable information.

Hydrographic surveyors use state of-the-art technology ranging from sophisticated sensors to high accuracy positioning systems and were at forefront of developing and refining the use of GPS/GNSS, enabling worldwide, 24-hour, all weather, high accuracy positioning. The latest underwater acoustic techniques provide precise relative positioning of both surface and subsea vessels over large distances. Seawater temperature and salinity profiles make allowance for changing signal paths in the water layers. Sound impulses emitted at close intervals as a vessel moves ahead enable electronic stacking of reflected data from points on the rock strata. The resulting high-resolution two and three-dimensional images are essential to the successful search for oil and gas. Developments in swathe sounding technology allow coverage of large areas of the oceans from a single vessel in a fraction of the time previously taken. Airborne data gathering (Lidar) has also become more commonplace with the use of colour lasers and remote sensing of the seabed.



In conjunction with the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus), the SSSI Hydrography Commission has produced the above corporate video showcasing the importance of hydrography as a spatial science discipline, and positioning hydrographic surveying as a rewarding career opportunity to senior school leavers and those tertiary students studying surveying at university.


The video ‘Hydrography as a Career’ is available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFQ1IpkW81Y# or through the dedicated RiAus website https://riaus.org.au/articles/what-is-hydrography



Acknowledgement - International Federation of Hydrographic Societies 24/3/09


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