Geology describes the structure of the Earth on and beneath its surface, and the processes that have shaped that structure. To do so, geologists use a wide variety of methods. Large scale 3D measurements can be part of the field work. In such cases, the use of mobile mapping technologies is appropriate. In this article, we will describe how laser mobile scanners can be a valuable tool for geologists.

Surface geological mapping

LiDAR scanners, such as our BMS3D backpack mobile scanner, allow capturing high precision data of the surrounding environment. This data can be processed in a variety of ways to allow for very detailed geological mapping.

One way in which this 3D data can be processed is by digitally removing the vegetation to obtain all the points corresponding to the ground surface. This can be very useful to illustrate the topography of the area with high accuracy. This data can also be used to generate hillshade maps, which represent the terrain by projecting a hypothetical source of light (like the sun) over the 3D surface. This highlights the trends of topographic features in the landscape.


Another way in which laser scanners can be used for surficial mapping is to help quantify surface processes, such as those that affect erosion and deposition.

Erosion is the action in which soil, rock or dissolved material is removed by surface processes and transported from one location of the surface to another. Deposition, on the other hand, is the process in which sediments, soil, and rocks are added to a landform or land mass.

By using laser scanners, like our BMS3D, one can easily capture the same area at different moments in time, allowing to precisely and quickly determine:

  • The volume/amount of displaced material
  • The surface area with its precise location of the impacted geological structure.

Geological structure measurements

Geological structure measurements allow for the monitoring and characterization of rock bodies and structures like faults, folds, synclines, anticlines, and lineaments. These structures are the result of tectonic deformations and can provide important information regarding the presence of oil and gas reserves, but also of potential hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic activity. This is essential for land use planning because, for example, construction should be limited over potentially dangerous zones.

Structural features are very difficult to detect in areas with dense vegetation. LiDAR provides a solution to this problem by allowing geologists to filter out all the unnecessary data and extract all the necessary structural information.

In summary

Viametris Mobile Scanners can help capturing a wide variety of geological features with high precision. This not only enables geologists to study big areas at high resolution, but also to do it in a very short amount of time. Our BMS3D backpack mobile scanner is a great solution for making geological studies more efficient and accurate.



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