[Proj] Datum shift for Dutch maps 1850-2000

Clifford J Mugnier cjmce at lsu.edu
Tue Nov 25 12:18:46 EST 2008

For that difference in dates, a mostly northerly shift is entirely due to something else other than different datums.  Timekeeping back then was far from today's accuracy, and therefore the major shift is ALWAYS East-West with some difference in Northings.  Furthermore, church towers are intersection stations and were not occupied.  Those points normally have the least accuracy even though they generally are the longest-lasting.
I have no idea what you have there, but it is certainly not a classical datum shift.
Check out my February 2003 column on the Netherlands at www.ASPRS.org/resources/grids .
C. Mugnier
Louisiana State University


From: proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org on behalf of Jan Hartmann
Sent: Tue 25-Nov-08 10:42
To: PROJ.4 and general Projections Discussions
Subject: [Proj] Datum shift for Dutch maps 1850-2000

  This is not a question about the program PROJ, but perhaps there are
people on this list that can help me. I am georeferencing the first
topographical map of the Netherlands from about 1850. That map is in a
Bonne projection centered at  51.5N / 4.8838828E,  and uses  its own
ellipsoid, computed by the Dutch engineer Ackermans (semi-major axis
6376950.4m, inverse flattening 309.65m). Its PROJ-string is:

+proj=bonne +lat_1=51.5 +lon_0=4.8838828  +a=6376950.4 +rf=309.65
+units=m +no_defs

The present Dutch topograpical maps use a stereographic projection on
the Bessel ellipsoid, defined (without the WGS84 datum shift) as:

+proj=sterea +lat_0=52.15616055555555 +lon_0=5.38763888888889
+k=0.999908 +x_0=155000 +y_0=463000 +ellps=bessel +units=m +no_defs

We have the complete lists of triangulation points used for both  maps,
1000  in 1850 and  5000  in 2006.  Quite a few points are identical,
mostly church towers, so for these we have coordinates in both
projections. The  lists  also contain  the lat-lon values for these
points.  When I use  cs2cs to  reproject  the old points  into the
present system, I get a difference of about 650 meter, almost
exclusively in the Y-direction: the reprojected 1850 map lies about 650
meter to the north of the present map. This different is exactly the
same over the whole country, give or take a few meters that look random
to me (could be measurement errors, plus I am not sure they used the
same spot on the church towers in 1850 and the present).

This means I can get a reasonably accurate historical map by just doing
a linear shift of -10/-650 meters, but I am curious what happens here.
Of course the center of projection in 1850 could be actually 650m away
from its recorded position, but I am wondering if there are other
possibilities for such a shift. Am I doing something slightly wrong? Any
help would be appreciated.


Dr. J. Hartmann
Department of Geography
University of Amsterdam
Proj mailing list
Proj at lists.maptools.org

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