OpenTopography Blog

Information and discussion related to high-resolution LiDAR topography for the Earth sciences

Category: TLS

2013 Geological Society of America Meeting Short Courses

Posted on Wed, September 11, 2013 by Chris Crosby in EducationMeetingsNewsTLS

UNAVCO is running a pair of short courses at the 2013 Geological Society of America meeting in Denver next month (October 27-30th) that may be of interest to the OpenTopography community. Details are below. The early registration deadline is September 23rd.

For Researchers (faculty, graduate students and geoscience professionals):
Introduction to Terrestrial Laser Scanning (Ground-Based LiDAR) for Earth Science Research (GSA course 501)
Friday, October 25, 2013 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Held at UNAVCO, Boulder, CO
US$54; includes lunch. Limit: 20. CEU: 0.8.
Cosponsor: UNAVCO
Instructors: Christopher Crosby, UNAVCO; Marianne Okal, UNAVCO; David Phillips, UNAVCO; Carlos Aiken, The University of Texas at Dallas

This one-day short course will provide earth science faculty, students and professionals with an introduction to the principles of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS - a.k.a., ground-based lidar). TLS enables the capture of very high-resolution three-dimensional images of geologic features, and has emerged as a powerful tool for applications ranging from outcrop mapping to documentation and analysis of active earth surface processes. The course will focus on TLS technology, data collection, processing and analysis workflows, and examples of science applications. The course will consist of a combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations of TLS equipment and data processing.

For College Faculty:
Integrating GPS, LiDAR, InSAR, and Other Geodesy Data into Undergraduate Courses (GSA course 526)
Saturday, October 26, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.. Held at Auraria Campus, Senate Chambers
US$20 ; Limit: 30. CEU: 0.4.
Cosponsor: UNAVCO
Instructors: Beth Pratt-Sitaula, UNAVCO; Vince Cronin, Baylor University; Gareth Funning, University of California at Riverside

Despite its growing importance to research in societally critical fields such as hazard mitigation and climate change, geodetic techniques and data are seldom found in undergraduate geoscience courses. In this UNAVCO-sponsored short course participants will learn about a suite of activities, relevant to both majorís (structures, geophysics, tectonics, geomorphology, volcanology, and more) and introductory courses, that feature geodetic data investigations. A primary focus will be use of GPS data to understand regional strain and earthquake hazards but resources for teaching with airborne and terrestrial LiDAR and InSAR will also be included. Presenters include material authors and instructors as well as technical experts.

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UNAVCO Terrestrial Laser Scanning Internship

Posted on Mon, April 01, 2013 by Chris Crosby in JobsNewsTLS

UNAVCO is offering a paid internship for summer 2013 to focus on the development of community support resources for the UNAVCO Geodetic Imaging (Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) - a.k.a., ground-based LiDAR) program. Specifically, the intern will work with the UNAVCO Education and Community Engagement (ECE) and TLS groups to develop online resources such as documentation, written and video tutorials, short course training modules, and other content focused on the collection and processing of TLS data.  The framework and presentation of the new TLS content will be used as a model for other UNAVCO curriculum materials and outreach information.

Skills developed will include familiarity in TLS data products, metadata, and software. The intern will also learn about developing, publishing and maintaining web-based content and other instructional media. The intern will work in a multi-disciplinary team consisting of UNAVCO field engineers, data engineers, software developers, and educational and community engagement specialists. There may also be the opportunity to collect and process TLS data in the field, and to interact with UNAVCO’s diverse TLS scientific community.

Additional information and application for the TLS ECE position can be found here: The application closes 5:00 p.m. (MDT) on Friday. April 12, 2013

This Education and Community Engagement Internship at UNAVCO is one of several positions currently listed that include Field Engineering, HR, and accounting- details via UNAVCO’s career portal:

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The Balloon and the Lidar

Posted on Wed, March 28, 2012 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLSVideo

At last month’s UNAVCO Science Workshop they introduced an evening of Ignite talks presented by members of the UNAVCO community.  The event was well attended and quite fun.  The full set of videos are now available here:

Of particular interest to the lidar community is Ben Brook’s (UH Manoa) talk, ”The Balloon and Lidar” about his work with Craig Glennie (University of Houston) to build a balloon (or backpack) based lidar system. The system has the potential to bridge the gap between terrestrial and airborne lidar, providing detailed scans of features such as fault scarps and landslides from the air.

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Charting the Future of Terrestrial Laser Scanning Workshop Report Available

Posted on Sat, January 07, 2012 by Chris Crosby in TLSWorkshops

Before the holidays, UNAVCO announced the release of the preliminary report from the Community Workshop: Charting the Future of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in the Earth Sciences and Related Fields.  Also available on the UNAVCO site are all presentations and breakout materials from the workshop. 

OpenTopography was an active part of this workshop and we are very interested in data product, format, and metadata standards for TLS data.  We plan to work closely with UNAVCO to facilitate access to TLS datasets via OpenTopography, and will use this report in part to guide our development activities.  As a reminder, OT already hosts several TLS datasets which can be accessed at the bottom of the list on our Point Cloud and Custom DEM page.

Comments and feedback on the report are welcome and encouraged.  Please send them to David Phillips: 

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Knowledge Exchange Workshop on Terrestrial Laser Scanning

Posted on Fri, January 06, 2012 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLSWorkshops

Via the Geomorphlist, an announcement about a terrestrial laser scanning workshop being held April 2012 at the University of Leicester, UK.  The “Knowledge exchange workshop on terrestrial laser scanning” is being organized by the Earth Observation Technology Cluster at the University of Nottingham.

Knowledge exchange workshop on terrestrial laser scanning
April 2-3 2012

As part of the NERC EO Technology Cluster Lidarnet project we are planning a 2 day workshop at the University of Leicester, UK.  The workshop aims to attract a cross section of people from researchers, through applications specialists, instrument developers and vendors. We plan to have a mix of activities including key-note talks, an applications poster session, hands-on demonstrations, and interactive discussions.

For further information see:

or email

Dr Nick Tate
Department of Geography
University of Leicester.

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Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in Geomorphology Session at EGU 2012

Posted on Mon, December 19, 2011 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLS

Via email, a call for abstracts for an EGU 2012 session on terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) in geomorphology:

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in Geomorphology- EGU 2012 (Vienna, 22-27 April 2012)

Dear Colleague,
We would like to invite abstracts on the subject of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in Geomorphology for a session at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2012 (Vienna, 22-27 April 2012).  This is part of a larger session on ’High definition topography - data acquisition, modelling, interpretation‘ (GM2.1) convened by Dirk Rieke-Zapp (University of Bern), Alexander Reiterer (Technical University of Munich), Jim Chandler (Loughborough University), James Brasington (University of Canterbury), Mark Powell and Nick Tate (University of Leicester) and Damia Vericat (University of Lleida and Forestry and Technology Centre of Catalonia).

We welcome abstracts which:
1.  Showcase recent applications of TLS in geomorphic contexts
2.  Provide examples and good practice guidance on the collection and processing of TLS data in geomorphic contexts, and
3.  Identify both the possibilities and constraints in using this technology for geomorphic research.
The session is supported by the ISPRS Commission V Working Group V/6 - “Close range morphological measurements for the Earth Sciences” and LiDARnet.
The papers presented at the EGU session will be considered for a special edition of an international journal that would be co-edited by James Brasington, Mark Powell, Nicholas Tate, and Damia Vericat. Information on abstract submission can be found at The deadline for abstracts is January 17.

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Close Range Morphological Measurement for the Earth Sciences - ISPRS V6 Sessions in 2012

Posted on Wed, August 24, 2011 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLS

Via the GEOMORPHLIST comes this announcement about upcoming sessions on the topic of “close range morphological measurement for the Earth sciences” organized by Working Group V6 of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS).  The stated goal of ISPRS Working Group V6 is to promote and coordinate activities involving the spatial measurement of natural objects at close range using a variety of modern geomatics technologies, including: digital photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning. Activities are of interest to those involved in: 3D reconstruction for: geomorphology, earth science, hydrology, agriculture, forestry, glaciology, geology, surface roughness and climate change studies.

These look like very relevant sessions for the Earth science terrestrial lidar community.  Abstract deadlines are fast approaching.  Full announcement:

ISPRS V6- “close range morphological measurement for the Earth sciences” abstracts required for V6 sessions in 2012!?

Working group V6 of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) is coordinating two events in 2012 which we are hoping you may wish to contribute to, in New York and Melbourne. ISPRS Working Group V/6 aims to promote and coordinate activities involving the spatial measurement of natural objects at close range using a variety of modern geomatics technologies, including: digital photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning. Activities are of interest to those involved in: 3D reconstruction for: geomorphology, earth science, hydrology, agriculture, forestry, glaciology, geology, surface roughness and climate change studies. Further details:

Melbourne Congress- 28th of August- 1 September 2012

V6 has managed to secure a Themed Session through collaboration with Working Group IV/8, which should provide a mixed audience. To this we should also add at least one poster and one other oral session dedicated to our activities. Key dates include:

deadline for abstract submission: 24th of October 2011

status of acceptance: 28th of February 2012

submission for papers: 30th of April 2012

Further details included in the second announcement: ( or please examine the Congress website:

The Association of American Geographers, New York- 24th to 28 February, 2012

James Dietrich is coordinating the AAG session of ISPRS V6 and draw your attention to the deadline abstract submission of the 28th September 2011! Further details:

Jim Chandler

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Charting the Future of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in the Earth Sciences and Related Fields

Posted on Sun, August 07, 2011 by Chris Crosby in TLSWorkshops

Community Workshop Announcement:


This workshop will be held at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel in Boulder, Colorado on October 17-19, 2011.

Workshop registration is now open. To register and apply for support please visit:

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), a.k.a. terrestrial LiDAR, is part of a suite of new geodetic imaging technologies that are becoming increasingly important to the Earth science and related communities for use in myriad research applications. The overarching goals for this workshop are community oriented and include:

  • Engage TLS users across Earth science subdisciplines and related fields such as engineering, ecology, and anthropology.
  • Seed planning that is inspired by recent innovative science applications.
  • Identify future TLS research directions and the appropriate structures, resources and collaborations to support them.
  • Define user requirements to guide community members, facilities and sponsors in planning and seeking resources to provide research-grade data products as efficiently and effectively as possible.

To advance these goals, the following thematic workshop sessions are planned:

  • TLS science applications.
  • TLS data processing and analysis.
  • TLS data and metadata formats and standards.
  • Best structures and practices for community-oriented facilities providing TLS hardware, software, and data.
  • Comprehensive outlook and plan to support future TLS developments and community requirements.

We particularly seek to draw upon the experience and expertise of researchers who are familiar with the current capabilities and challenges of TLS technologies and methodologies and who are interested in advancing these goals. To help represent a broader target audience and to enrich and diversify the workshop’s planning, content and deliverables, the Organizing Committee is recruiting community representatives to serve as additional organizing committee members and/or session chairs.

This workshop is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and organized by UNAVCO. Workshop deliverables are meant to be relevant to TLS users at all levels, from individual investigators to large scale initiatives, and will be particularly useful as strategic aids to help NSF supported facilities such as UNAVCO, INTERFACE, OpenTopography and NCALM best meet the needs of the research community now and in the future.

The registration deadline is September 2, 2011.

On behalf of the workshop Organizing Committee, thank you for your interest and we hope to see you in Boulder in October!

David Phillips


David Phillips, UNAVCO
John Oldow, University of Texas at Dallas
Doug Walker, University of Kansas
Ramon Arrowsmith, Arizona State University
Chuck Meertens, UNAVCO

David A. Phillips, Ph.D.
Geodetic Imaging Project Manager
6350 Nautilus Drive, Boulder, CO 80301
Tel: 303-381-7471, Fax: 303-381-7451

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EGU 2011 sessions on high-resolution topography and LiDAR

Posted on Tue, December 21, 2010 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLS

Now that the 2010 AGU meeting is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2011 European Geoscience Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, April 3-8, 2011.  The EGU abstract submission deadline is January 10th, 2011.

In addition to the Digital Landscapes: Quantitative Interrogation & Use session highlighted on the OpenTopography blog previously, there are two other sessions that appear to be directly applicable to OpenTopography users:

GM2.3 High definition topography - close range data acquisition and analysis:

Recent advances in surveying technology and better availability of high precision surveying tools made it easy for geomorphologists to benefit from data with higher spatial resolution as well as data with much better precision than just a couple years ago. In this session we want to

(i) increase the awareness of modern surveying techniques and their application to geomorphology,

(ii) provide a platform for researchers to present their experiences with laser scanners, range cameras, close range photogrammetry, terrestrial RADAR as well as other new surveying tools and

(iii) provide a platform for innovative solutions capable of generating input data for current and future models in geomorphology.

The main focus of this session will be towards the applications of close range measurements in small to medium size applications.
The proposed session has an overlap with ISPRS Commission V Working Group V/6 - “Close range morphological measurements for the earth sciences”. While the ISPRS commission meetings are typically visited by professionals of geodesy a similar session at EGU allows better communication between professional surveyors and geomorphologists.

GM2.2 Airborne and Terrestrial Laser Scanning and geomorphology: possibilities, problems, and solutions:

In the recent years laser scanning (also called LiDAR) became a very effective tool for high-resolution data acquisition of geomorphic surfaces. Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) is a straightforward and very precise tool for creating digital surface models (DSM) up to sub-meter resolution. In order to derive Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) from DSMs at this resolution sophisticated data processing techniques are required to filter out the effects of man-made structures and the canopy cover, therefore their direct application in geomorphology often requires specific geomophological knowledge to avoid creation of artefacts.
Furthermore, due to budgetary reasons, the repetition cycle of ALS surveys typically is not short enough to enable detection of the effects of surface forming of certain geomorphic processes.
In order to cope with that Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) is also increasingly applied for fast data capture of the surface on local scale, e.g., in detection and monitoring of mass movements, glacial, erosional and sedimentary deposition studies requiring high accuracy and frequent repetition.
The resolution and accuracy provided by LiDAR DTMs are especially valuable in low-relief areas like floodplains. The application possibilities of such DTMs, for instance, in flood control are widespread. Repeated LiDAR surveys may also contribute to the understanding and monitoring of the floodplain sedimentation processes, river dynamics, and quantification of erosion and sedimentation.
Likewise, for high-relief areas, e.g., in Alpine environment the ALS surveys may also contribute to the monitoring of mass movements, erosional processes, transport of debris and incipient motion of slopes.
The wealth of laser scanning-derived DTMs can be used for geomorphic analyses in various forms (point cloud, TIN, grid) for analysis in flood-endangered regions, for natural hazard analyses and are almost unbeatable in surface modelling of mountainous and karstic areas. They are also highly applicable in environmental change studies concerning the change in snow and ice coverage, soil creep, etc.

The application of both laser scanning techniques results in data sets characterised by enormous data sizes, extremely high accuracy (up to cm-scale) and very high resolution. These properties compensate for the efforts invested in the data processing, however it means new challenges for the geomorphic evaluation. Especially in case of multitemporal studies the fusion of data from various data acquisition techniques, varying resolution and differing data acquisition conditions (e.g., seasonal variation of canopy) requires special attention. In geomorphology the informative value of these data can be used only if geomorphologists, data acquisition specialists and data processing experts closely co-operate to extract the geomorphological information contained in the data.
This session has been successful in strengthening the connection between the geomorphological research and LiDAR acquisition technology. The session is intended to facilitate the cooperation of specialists working in this field with the potential users in geomorphology in the widest sense.

Contributions concerning processing techniques as well as geomorphic application examples are welcome. Beside of that studies on applicability of laser scanning-derived DSMs and DTMs in various environments and at various scales, data fusion examples of ALS and TLS data with other data sources, case studies of problematic data sets, untypical applications like LiDAR geomorphic studies in urban areas, are also covered by the session.

In order to facilitate the communication within the community applying LiDAR in geomorphology, similarly to the previous years, we intend to use the full range of presentation options newly introduced to EGU General Assembly. We also encourage early stage researchers to present their studies.

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“Close range morphological measurement for the Earth sciences” session at AAG

Posted on Mon, September 20, 2010 by Chris Crosby in MeetingsTLS

The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Working Group V6 is promoting a session at the April, 2011 Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual meeting in Seattle on ”Close range morphological measurement for the Earth sciences”.  This session emphasizes digital photgrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) applications in the Earth sciences:

Geomorphologist and Earth Scientists are making increased used of digital photogrammetry and laser scanning to quantify morphological change. The International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Working Group V/6 ( aims to promote, coordinate and develop expertise in this area. This session provides an opportunity for scientists to share experiences and develop their expertise using these rapidly evolving and increasingly cost effective technologies. Activities are of interest to those involved in 3D reconstruction for: geomorphology, earth science, hydrology, agriculture, forestry, glaciology, geology, surface roughness and climate change studies.

The AAG abstract deadline is October 20, 2010.

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