GD4-1 - Horizontal datums

You are currently viewing an archived version of Topic Horizontal (Geometric) Datums. If updates or revisions have been published you can find them at Horizontal (Geometric) Datums.

Author and Citation Info: 

DiBiase, D., DeMers, M., Johnson, A., Kemp, K., Luck, A. T., Plewe, B., and Wentz, E. (2006). Horizontal datums. The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge. Washington, DC: Association of American Geographers. (2nd Quarter 2016, first digital).

Learning Objectives: 
  • Discuss appropriate applications of the various datum transformation options
  • Explain the difference between NAD 27 and NAD 83 in terms of ellipsoid parameters
  • Outline the historical development of horizontal datums
  • Explain the difference in coordinate specifications for the same position when referenced to NAD 27 and NAD 83
  • Explain the rationale for updating NAD 27 to NAD 83
  • Explain why all GPS data are originally referenced to the WGS 84 datum
  • Identify which datum transformation options are available and unavailable in a GIS software package
  • Define “horizontal datum” in terms of the relationship between a coordinate system and an approximation of the Earth’s surface
  • Describe the limitations of a Molodenski transformation and in what circumstances a higher parameter transformation such as Helmert may be appropriate
  • Determine the impact of a datum transformation from NAD 27 to NAD 83 for a given location using a conversion routine maintained by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey
  • Explain the methodology employed by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey to transform control points from NAD 27 to NAD 83
  • Perform a Molodenski transformation manually
  • Use GIS software to perform a datum transformation