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Lidar Collection and Mapping

Oregon Lidar Consortium logo


Jacob Edwards, Lidar Project and Database Coordinator
(971) 673-1557

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon St., Suite 965
Portland, OR 97232

Oregon Lidar Consortium (OLC)

DOGAMI Lidar Data Distribution Policy

OLC Lidar Reports

GSA 2009 Short Course 515 materials

DOGAMI Lidar Viewer - view lidar and locate and order Lidar Data Quadrangles from the same interface.

Lidar Publications

Minimum Lidar Data Density Considerations for the Pacific Northwest (PDF), courtesy of Watershed Sciences, Inc., 01/22/2010

Lidar Landscapes posters and postcards

What is lidar?
FAQs about lidar data
What is the current status of mapping?
How do I get my area included in an upcoming survey?
What can I do with lidar?
What kind of data will I get?
    Sample data
Whom do I contact?
Additional Resources

What is lidar?
Lidar (light detection and ranging) is a new tool that can provide very precise, accurate, and high-resolution images of the surface of the earth, vegetation, and the built environment.

Airborne lidar uses a laser range finder mounted in a precisely navigated aircraft to scan the earth's surface at very high rates and collect very dense clouds of X-Y-Z coordinates. Lidar data that define the ground, vegetation and man-made structures are useful for anyone wanting to know the shape of the land surface or of the vegetation and buildings on the land. (Learn more in the "Seeing Landslides with LidarCascadia issue [6 MB PDF] or or view a presentation [Powerpoint file (12 MB) or Flash Player movie] that explains lidar and the OLC in detail.)

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) has been involved in pilot efforts to collect high-resolution lidar in Oregon since 2003. In 2006-2007 we were successful in forming the Portland Lidar Consortium, which brought together 17 agencies ranging from the USGS to the City of Silverton to acquire 2200 square miles of seamless, high-quality public domain lidar data (current PLC status - May 27, 2009 [461 KB PDF]). Among the many benefits of the consortium approach are that large swaths of lidar data can be collected seamlessly, costs per unit area to collect the data are greatly reduced, expert quality assurance and quality control are uniformly applied to the data, statewide standardization of data can be assured, and small jurisdictions can benefit from the acquisition of lidar data at a greatly reduced cost when compared to the cost if jurisdictions acted independently.

LIDAR-based digital elevation model (DEM) image conventional orthophoto
Comparison of lidar-based digital elevation model (DEM) map on the left with conventional orthophoto on the right. Browse available Portland-area imagery here.

In 2007 the Oregon 74th Legislative Assembly directed DOGAMI to extend lidar collection efforts throughout the state. Legislators approved the consortium model for data collection and data sharing, and provided modest seed money. The ultimate goal is to provide high-quality lidar coverage for the entire state. To achieve this goal DOGAMI has formed the Oregon Lidar Consortium (OLC), which will develop cooperative agreements for the collection of high-quality lidar that benefits the public at large, the business community, and agencies at all levels of government.

In winter 2007 and spring 2008 DOGAMI developed data specifications and selected a vendor (Watershed Sciences Inc., Corvallis, Oregon) through a national competitive bidding process. During this time we also developed several funding partnerships for data collection blocks. Initially, we identified our area of primary interest as the inhabited portions of western Oregon (see map), but we welcome partners with funding for interests anywhere in the state. The cost for data acquisition depends on the size of the area and includes contract management and quality control by DOGAMI.

The basic OLC strategy (outlined in detail in the OLC Business Plan) for developing data acquisition areas is to start with a local funding partner and work to enlarge that area by finding additional partners and adding OLC funds to link areas together into large contiguous blocks.

Oregon Lidar Consortium Business Plan

FAQs about lidar data back to top

  1. Where can I download lidar data?
    Use the DOGAMI Lidar Data Viewer or filter on "Lidar Data Quadrangles" with the DOGAMI publications search.

  2. What software do I need to use lidar data?
    For rasters, users need GIS software that can read georeferenced rasters in .adf format (Esri grid) such as ArcGIS, IMAGINE, GeoMedia, etc. QGIS is an open source GIS software option that will support rasters. If the data are downloaded from a third party such as OpenTopography the data come in a variety of formats such as TIF, JPEG, IMAGINE, or Esri grid.

  3. What ways are there to view lidar data?
    Lidar can be viewed as either mass points or a raster. The best method to view mass points (i.e., LAS files) is through a 3D point viewer, for example, the free U.S. Forest Service visualization system Fusion. Raster formatted data can be viewed as a digital elevation model (DEM) using a color ramp to expose variations in elevation. Many users create hillshades or slope rasters from the DEMs using GIS software. These derivative products allow for better visualization of surface features.

  4. Can I view lidar data in CAD software?
    Yes, both AutoCAD Civil 3D and Bentley Microstation support import of raster and LAS point data. It should be noted that LAS point datasets are typically very large and might operate slowly. Additionally, raster imports typically require changing settings. For instance, AutoCAD Civil 3D requires the user to specify ".adf" file format before the file can be viewed.

  5. Can contours be created from lidar data?
    Yes. Contours can be derived from lidar rasters using GIS software.

  6. What is the finest contour I can create?
    The appropriate contour interval for lidar is dependent on the size of the lidar ground footprint (diameter of the laser beam on the ground) and the accuracy of the lidar dataset being used. All OLC data support a 2-ft contour using American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) standards for accuracy.

What is the current status of mapping? back to top

Find project status by turning on the "Project Areas" layer on the DOGAMI Lidar Viewer

PowerPoint presentation:

How do I get my area included in an upcoming survey? back to top

The first step for interested parties is to contact DOGAMI and provide a map of your area of interest along with an estimate of your available funding.

What can I do with lidar? back to top

You can quickly, cheaply, and accurately:

  • Find landslides, old cuts and grades
  • Measure and estimate fills and cuts
  • Find stream channels, measure gradients
  • Measure the size and height of buildings, bridges
  • Locate and measure every tree in the forest
  • Characterize land cover
  • Model floods, fire behavior
  • Locate power lines and power poles
  • Support archeological investigations
  • Map wetlands and impervious surfaces
  • Define watersheds and viewsheds
  • Model insolation and shading
  • Map road center and sidelines
  • Find law enforcement targets
  • Map landforms and soils
  • Assess property remotely
  • Inventory carbon
  • Monitor quarries, find abandoned mines
  • Enhance any project that requires a detailed and accurate 2-D or 3-D map

What kind of data will I get? back to top

Products include:

  • Point cloud, LAS format 1/100 quad tiles
  • 3 ft pixel bare earth DEM ESRI format (quad tiles)
  • 3 ft pixel first-return DEM ESRI format (quad tiles)
  • 1 ft pixel intensity images (1/4 quad tiles)
  • Ground points in LAS format (1/100 quad tiles)
  • Aircraft trajectories
  • Report and metadata

Get a sample 1/100 quadrangle dataset (113 MB; compressed .rar file format) of this area (.jpg image). Sample dataset includes:

  • bare earth
  • highest hit
  • hillshades
  • intensity
  • ground LAS
  • full LAS
  • data report

Data hosted on other sites:

Whom do I contact? back to top

Jacob Edwards
Lidar Project and Database Coordinator
Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon St. #28 Suite 965
Portland, OR 97232
(971) 673-1557

Additional resources back to top

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State of Oregon website

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 965, Portland, OR 97232-2162
(971) 673-1555, FAX (971) 673-1562
email us at DOGAMI