The terrain profile can be determined by direct measurements in the terrain, from topographical maps or from digital terrain models . During the measurement, the position and height of the terrain point are determined. In the simplest case, the height is recorded with a leveling device and the distance is measured with a tape measure . The faster method for recording and evaluating is to use a total station . The measurement of profiles under water can e.g. B. be done with echo sounders. In the construction based altitude based on the illustrated are of topographic maps contour lines and Koten determined. But objects that indicate the relative elevation, such as embankments, roads and bodies of water, should also be taken into account.
As a rule, a terrain profile is shown exaggerated because the terrain shapes would hardly be visible at the same scale in height and length. The superelevation is the ratio of the height scale to the length scale. In road and rail construction plans, the superelevation factor is generally 10, i.e. with a length scale of 1: 500, the height scale is 1:50.
Profiles are used for the analysis of visibility, the planning and documentation of road and railway lines as well as of bodies of water. In road construction, one speaks of the cross section for the transverse profile and the height plan for the longitudinal profile. Nowadays, the calculation of volumes is carried out more easily using digital terrain models. A geological profile also shows the rock layers below the earth's surface.