Optimization of legacy lidar data sets for measuring near-field earthquake displacements

Craig L. Glennie, Alejandro Hinojosa-Corona, Edwin Nissen, Arpan Kusari, Michael E. Oskin, Ramon Arrowsmith, Adrian Borsa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Airborne lidar (light detection and ranging) topography, acquired before and after an earthquake, can provide an estimate of the coseismic surface displacement field by differencing the preevent and postevent lidar point clouds. However, estimated displacements can be contaminated by the presence of large systematic errors in either of the point clouds. We present three-dimensional displacements obtained by differencing airborne lidar point clouds collected before and after the El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake, a M w 7.2 earthquake that occurred in 2010. The original surface displacement estimates contained large, periodic artifacts caused by systematic errors in the preevent lidar data. Reprocessing the preevent data, detailed herein, removed a majority of these systematic errors that were largely due to misalignment between the scanning mirror and the outgoing laser beam. The methodology presented can be applied to other legacy airborne laser scanning data sets in order to improve change estimates from temporally spaced lidar acquisitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3494-3501
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 28 2014


  • El Mayor-Cucapah
  • LiDAR
  • active tectonics
  • earthquakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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