Just learned vue from geek at play and messing around myself. I found the best way to create a terrain was to pull an image from google maps of the area I was wanting to recreate. I then convert this to a grayscale image and use photoshop to lessen black and white areas such as roads and buildings. I then use this image as an alpha brush in zbrush and project it onto a flat poly plane that has been subdivide a shed load. ( I will give an exact amount at a later date where I will try to go into more detail.) with the image projected onto the plane I use the layer brush on a low setting to raise the area. I can then use ref images to sculpt the look of the area inside zbrush as I now have a good template to work from. Once I am happy I can take the model into Vue and begin setting up materials and eco systems. I also try to keep roads and buildings in my alpha as I can now see faintly where they are on the model. This enables me to put the buildings and roads exactly where they should be inside Maya. This is a rough guide to my workflow on this although I will go into more detail on my other thread when I get the chance.
Below is a project I worked on some time ago. The area is in Norway and it was to promote the company's hydro power technology. Unfortunately I could not render out the full animation in time for them where the camera starts above the clouds and then goes across the landscape before moving underwater showing there technology. I am waiting on work to get a new version of vue in the next few weeks and will then hopefully render the full video as I need to be able to use vue in along with maya 2011. Also the render times on this are not terrible and are around 5 mins a frame at 720p. This is on a high end hp machine though as Vue does require a lot of processor power and ram.
Not sure if my method will work for surveying as it is not 100 percent accurate and is more of a close representation of an area but hope it may be of use to you.