Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Dissertation in 300 Words

This is my last year of the surveying degree. I'm doing the honours programme so on top of the normal course papers I'm carrying out a year-long research project. Because I have so many people asking me what it’s all about, I thought I'd put a brief summary of it here.

The title is A Stake in the Shifting Sands: Toward a Unified Approach to Surveying Areas Experiencing Gradual Land Movement. When I stumbled on this name I felt like most of the work was done, given that it combines both alliteration AND a pun, and hopefully enough humour to make the most pale-skinned, square-eyed academic grin.

Anyway, as the name suggests, my project is looking at the effect land movement has on legal property boundaries. Land movement comes in many forms, from tectonic plate movement, to earthquakes, vertical subsidence and landslides. Landslides can further be broken into two groups; the sudden, discrete events that everyone knows about and see on the news, and slow gradual movement that often people are unaware of. I’m looking at the unique characteristics of this latter form of movement.

The current situation in New Zealand is not ideal, as there is no guiding legislation or legal precedent to help surveyors figure out where the original boundary is when all the control marks around the place have moved. There is even confusion over whether the boundary stays fixed (meaning your house and fences are effectively sliding off the property) or whether the boundary moves with the land.

All going well, I hope to produce a document that effectively summarises the issues involved, critically looks at the current and potential approaches to the problem, and make recommendations to resolve the problem and help ease the frustration facing surveyors in the future.

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