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Height Datums on the Mississippi and Illinois River Systems: An Inconvenient Feast

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For historical reasons, numerous vertical datums are used along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in Illinois (e.g., Memphis Datum, Mean Gulf Level, and the Fourth General Adjustment of 1912). While most of these are of historical interest only, one—the Fourth General Adjustment of 1912—is still actively used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water-level measurements in the upper Mississippi. Approximate shifts between these systems and NAVD 88 were determined by identifying benchmarks with valid heights in both datums. These height differences are not small; for example, differences of nearly 8 ft are observed for the Memphis Datum, and even the Fourth4th General Adjustment of 1912 shows a maximum datum shift of nearly 0.8 ft.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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  • Surveying and Land Information Science (SaLIS) is the official publication of the American Association of Geodetic Surveying (AAGS) and the Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS).

    SaLIS is a scientific journal devoted to reporting research and new work conducted to advance geodetic surveying, land surveying, large-scale mapping, and geographic information systems designed to advance the development and management of the cadastral parcel data layer and other land information applications. SaLIS publishes research articles, technical papers, technical notes, papers on the current state of surveying education, surveying history, book reviews, and current literature reviews. Every four years, the journal publishes the U.S. Report to the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). The Proceedings of the Surveying Teachers Conference are published bi-annually.

    For information about AAGS visit www.aagsmo.org
    For information about GLIS visit www.g-lis.org

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