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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(9), 12103-12134; doi:10.3390/rs70912103

To Fill or Not to Fill: Sensitivity Analysis of the Influence of Resolution and Hole Filling on Point Cloud Surface Modeling and Individual Rockfall Event Detection

1
School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University, 101 Kearney Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 201 More Hall, Box 352700, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
3
International Artic Research Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Marc-Henri Derron, Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 31 May 2015 / Revised: 24 August 2015 / Accepted: 11 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of LiDAR and 3D point clouds in Geohazards)

Abstract

Monitoring unstable slopes with terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has been proven effective. However, end users still struggle immensely with the efficient processing, analysis, and interpretation of the massive and complex TLS datasets. Two recent advances described in this paper now improve the ability to work with TLS data acquired on steep slopes. The first is the improved processing of TLS data to model complex topography and fill holes. This processing step results in a continuous topographic surface model that seamlessly characterizes the rock and soil surface. The second is an advance in the automated interpretation of the surface model in such a way that a magnitude and frequency relationship of rockfall events can be quantified, which can be used to assess maintenance strategies and forecast costs. The approach is applied to unstable highway slopes in the state of Alaska, U.S.A. to evaluate its effectiveness. Further, the influence of the selected model resolution and degree of hole filling on the derived slope metrics were analyzed. In general, model resolution plays a pivotal role in the ability to detect smaller rockfall events when developing magnitude-frequency relationships. The total volume estimates are also influenced by model resolution, but were comparatively less sensitive. In contrast, hole filling had a noticeable effect on magnitude-frequency relationships but to a lesser extent than modeling resolution. However, hole filling yielded a modest increase in overall volumetric quantity estimates. Optimal analysis results occur when appropriately balancing high modeling resolution with an appropriate level of hole filling. View Full-Text
Keywords: point cloud; surface modeling; laser scanning; lidar; change detection; rockfalls; geohazards point cloud; surface modeling; laser scanning; lidar; change detection; rockfalls; geohazards
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Olsen, M.J.; Wartman, J.; McAlister, M.; Mahmoudabadi, H.; O’Banion, M.S.; Dunham, L.; Cunningham, K. To Fill or Not to Fill: Sensitivity Analysis of the Influence of Resolution and Hole Filling on Point Cloud Surface Modeling and Individual Rockfall Event Detection. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 12103-12134.

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