Laser Terrain Mapping, Lidar Research

Roberto Gutierrez, principal investigator; James C. Gibeaut, Rebecca C. Smyth, Tiffany L. Hepner, John R. Andrews, and Jerome A. Bellian

The Bureau is one of only two university research organizations in the country to own and operate a lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) system, making us a leader in remote sensing research and technology. We use the airborne laser mapping technology of lidar to generate 3-D electronic representations of diverse terrains,employing just one of many specialized types of lidar known as ALTM (Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping). This lidar type allows repeated, precise measurements of a topographic surface whose change reflects a geologic, hydrologic, or human-caused process. Current uses of ALTM include archaeological investigations, land-use planning, flood-hazard mapping, landslide studies, shoreline-change analysis, and water-resource development. Bureau researchers are developing new, nonstandard ALTM data collection and processing procedures to generate state-of-the-art, high-precision terrain maps. These new procedures include flight-calibration procedures and algorithms and vegetation-removal algorithms. Detailed information regarding Bureau lidar research is posted on the Bureau's Website at

For more infomation, please contact Jeff Paine. Telephone 512-471-1260; e-mail
February 2003