Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM) is an emerging technology that uses laser ranging to record ground elevations. This is done using an airplane equipped with a mounted laser ranging device, a global positioning system (GPS), and a computer system. As an airplane flies over the ground the GPS locates the plane in space and assigns it appropriate coordinates in the X, Y, and Z dimension. These coordinates are then matched with a GPS base station on the ground with known coordinates and elevation. Since the coordinates of the plane and base station are known, the coordinates of the laser points on the ground can also be determined as the laser beams bounce off the earth and reflect back to the measuring instrument. The X, Y, and Z locations and intensity are saved in a file on the computer. The scope of this research is to evaluate the suitability and accuracy of ALSM for application to geotechnical engineering, with respect to landslides. This is a joint project between the University of Florida and South Dakota State University. The University of Florida will be handling acquisition and some pre-processing of all data. South Dakota State University's responsibilities include the accuracy assessment of ALSM to landslide delineation and characterization. The location chosen to test the ALSM system is an area adjacent to the Oahe Dam in Pierre, South Dakota. This area was chosen because of a well-monitored and well- defined landslide in this area. In the Fall of2000 researchers from the University of Florida obtained data from this site using the ALSM system. The accuracy of this data was assessed and compared to topographic surveys that were also conducted in the same area. Conclusions were then drawn regarding the usefulness of ALSM for the geotechnical applications of landslide monitoring.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cartography -- Laser use in Landslides



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University