Applications of LIDAR in Geodesy, Geology, and Environmental Science
Dr. Roberto Gutierrez
Bureau of Economic Geology John A.& Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences The University of Texas at Austin

The monitoring and analysis of natural hazards requires repeated measurements of a topographic surface whose change reflects some geologic or hydrologic process. The development of scanning airborne lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) systems allows surficial mapping over areas tens to hundreds of kilometers in extent with a horizontal resolution of 1 meter or less and a vertical accuracy of 0.10-to-0.15m.

Since 1997 The Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) has mapped various portions of the Texas Gulf coast using several lidar systems. During summer 2000, BEG comprehensively mapped the Texas coast from Sabine Pass on the Texas-Louisiana border to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. These data provide a series of Gulf shorelines for estimating beach erosion rates and computing volumetric sand loss.

The BEG collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey in March 2000 to survey fifteen municipalities in Honduras as part of the USAID Hurricane Mitch Recovery program. Digital elevation models produced from these data are being used for flood and landslide hazard analysis.

During these and other projects, the BEG began implementing procedures for instrument calibration, data classification, and ground GPS surveying that enhance the repeatability of our surveys. This talk will provide a brief description of airborne lidar, an overview of past lidar projects here at the BEG, and a discussion of future developments and directions.