Imaging and Analyzing Active Faults Using High Resolution Topography


An OpenTopography short course
California Geological Survey, Sacramento, California

May 2-3, 2016  

Supported by: OpenTopography and the California Geological Survey

Christopher Crosby, UNAVCO, Boulder, CO
Ramón ArrowsmithArizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Tim Dawson, California Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA

Christopher CrosbyUNAVCO
Ramón Arrowsmith, Arizona State University


High resolution topographic data has become an important tool for earthquake scientists to make detailed observations and model surface evolution. Within the last decade, several efforts have been made to collect high resolution topographic (HRT) data for active faults (e.g. The B4 project, EarthScope, and numerous NCALM and USGS projects). These datasets are freely available online through OpenTopography, an NSF funded data distribution portal. The active faulting and broader community has taken great interest in these exciting datasets, using them to generate new and important insights into earthquake and earth surface processes. OpenTopography will host a short course in Sacremento, California on May 2-3, 2016. This 2-day course will highlight recent research results and provide beginner to intermediate training on airborne and terrestrial lidar, and Structure from Motion technology, point cloud and raster-based data processing, and active fault-oriented analysis. We will emphasize fault trace and geomorphic mapping, topographic differencing, integration with other geospatial data, and data visualization and analysis approaches. 

Software we will use includes:

We have put together a reading list that contains a number of relevant papers that you may find helpful to review prior to the course (highest priority is shown in italics).

DRAFT SCHEDULE (subject to change)

Monday, May 2nd 2016



Instructor, Affiliation (Location)

8:30 am Welcome, group introductions  
9:00 am

Introductory lectures:

Ramón Arrowsmith
10:00 am Break  
10:15 am

Introductory lectures, cont.:

Christopher Crosby 
11:15 am

Introduction to point visualization and processing using LAStools:

12:15 pm Lunch  
1:00 pm

Point clouds and DEM generation using LAStools (continued from pre-lunch session)

2:45 pm


3:00 pm

Raster-based HRT analysis in ArcGIS: Data visualization, mapping, simple topographic differencing, hydrologic analysis

Older resources:

Arrowsmith & Crosby
5:00 pm End  

Tuesday, May 3rd 2016



Instructor, Affiliation

8:30 am

LaDicaoz: Lidar data handling and lateral displacement measurement

9:30 am

Lecture: Topographic Change Detection, ICP using CloudCompare, registering multiple topographic datasets, and topographic change detection

Older supporting resources:

Arrowsmith & Crosby
10:45 am Break   
11:00 am

Lecture: Structure from Motion (SfM)


12:00 pm Lunch (collect SfM photos)  
1:00 pm

Structure from Motion (SfM) processing demo

Arrowsmith & Crosby

Exploratory Small Projects:

Individually or in groups, identify a small area of interest to perform a simple change detection or other geomorphic analysis. Use what you learned in yesterday afternoon and this morning's exercises, starting with an LAS file to explore and analyze the dataset of your choosing. A few example datasets for change detection are below, or use OpenTopography to find a dataset of interest and to download a point cloud file. By 4pm, make 3 (max) slides, that summarize: 1) Problem/question, 2) workflow/analysis, 3) result.

Sample data & supporting info:

  • White Sands dunes sample data
  • Iwate-Miyagi 2008 EQ differential data (DEM as points)
  • Other ideas: Parkfield, CA (B4 overlaps EarthScope); northern Bay Area; Wasatch front; Boulder, CO; southern Sonoma County, CA (earthflow); South Fork Eel River, CA (Mendocino/Humbolt Counties, CA); Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM; Salton Sea, CA; coastal central CA.
Crosby & Arrowsmith 

Project Discussion

4:30pm Final discussion, Q&A All