Levels at Gaging Stations

Techniques and Methods 3-A19



Operational procedures at U.S. Geological Survey gaging stations include periodic leveling checks to ensure that gages are accurately set to the established gage datum. Differential leveling techniques are used to determine elevations for reference marks, reference points, all gages, and the water surface. The techniques presented in this manual provide guidance on instruments and methods that ensure gaging-station levels are run to both a high precision and accuracy. Levels are run at gaging stations whenever differences in gage readings are unresolved, stations may have been damaged, or according to a pre-determined frequency. Engineer’s levels, both optical levels and electronic digital levels, are commonly used for gaging-station levels. Collimation tests should be run at least once a week for any week that levels are run, and the absolute value of the collimation error cannot exceed 0.003 foot/100 feet (ft).

An acceptable set of gaging-station levels consists of a minimum of two foresights, each from a different instrument height, taken on at least two independent reference marks, all reference points, all gages, and the water surface. The initial instrument height is determined from another independent reference mark, known as the origin, or base reference mark. The absolute value of the closure error of a leveling circuit must be less than or equal to 0.003√n ft, where n is the total number of instrument setups, and may not exceed |0.015| ft regardless of the number of instrument setups. Closure error for a leveling circuit is distributed by instrument setup and adjusted elevations are determined. Side shots in a level circuit are assessed by examining the differences between the adjusted first and second elevations for each objective point in the circuit. The absolute value of these differences must be less than or equal to 0.005 ft. Final elevations for objective points are determined by averaging the valid adjusted first and second elevations. If final elevations indicate that the reference gage is off by |0.015| ft or more, it must be reset.

Suggested Citation

Kenney, T.A., 2010, Levels at gaging stations: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 3-A19, 60 p.

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Differential Leveling and Leveling Equipment
  • Establishment of Gage Datum
  • Frequency of Gaging-Station Levels
  • Preparation for Running Levels
  • Running Levels
  • Office Procedures
  • Auxiliary Data to be Obtained During Level Runs
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Glossary
  • Appendix A. Fixed-Scale Test Form
  • Appendix B. Peg Test Form
  • Appendix C. Level Notes Form
  • Appendix D. Historical Level Summary Form
  • Appendix E. Summary of Selected Requirements and Tolerances for Gaging Station Levels
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Levels at gaging stations
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 3-A19
DOI 10.3133/tm3A19
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Office of Surface Water, Utah Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 60 p.; Appendixes A-D
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Section A: Surface-Water Techniques in Book 3: Applications of Hydraulics
Public Comments This report is Chapter 19 of Section A: Surface-Water Techniques in Book 3: Applications of Hydraulics
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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