LiDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, and Ranging) continues producing maps of hidden landscapes as never seen before. The maps are amazing. Previously, our journal discussed the power of the new laser scanning technology. The mapping uses of LiDAR are limited only by the imagination but so far include: geography, geology, archaeology, geomorphology, forestry, seismology, atmospheric science, and underwater imagery.
Researchers with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources used LiDAR to map landslides in the State's mountains. According to their announement,
"Washington is one of the most landslide-prone states in the country, with hundreds to thousands of events each year. The direct cost of landslide damage includes roads and property repairs and the loss of life. Indirect costs include loss of property value and tax revenue, and environmental effects, such as degradation of water quality, which can exceed direct costs."
LiDAR's unique power is that it can expose the land under trees and other vegetation. Part of the laser's light penetrates through the vegetation and gets back to the sensor, can be filtered from the general scanning data, and therefore providing a map of the land beneath the trees. A high school student could understand comparison maps showing what was hidden under the Washington forests.
Washington State Mountain Forests (credit: Google-Earth) LiDAR Landslide Mapping of Same Mountains (WDNR)