British Geological Survey Maps the World with 3D Laser Mapping

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is to use a state of the art laser scanner to map volcanoes, glaciers and other natural phenomena. The RIEGL VZ-1000 purchased from 3D Laser Mapping will be used around the world to collect data that will be used to create photorealistic fly-throughs, 3D height models and highly accurate area and volume calculations.

“When we decided to purchase a new scanner we looked at a range of manufacturers,” commented Lee Jones, MEng. FGS, Engineering Geologist at BGS. “We chose the RIEGL VZ-1000 because it is compact, lightweight, high speed, has a scan range of up to 1,400 metres and has superior measurement capabilities when compared to rival systems.”

The BGS uses terrestrial laser scanners from RIEGL across their operations because of their flexibility, range and portability. Lee Jones added, “As a tool of modern geoscience, laser scanning allows unprecedented resolution and accuracy. Remote measurement and monitoring are also essential in many of the dangerous and inhospitable environments we operate in.”

The scan data captured using the latest system supplied by 3D Laser Mapping will be used to create highly detailed 3D models in order to create a variety of products. These include digital elevation models (DEMs), virtual outcrop models (VOMs), cross sections, soil erosion maps and change models.

The BGS has been using terrestrial laser scanning for a variety of geoscientific applications for more than a decade and the technology has become an established part of their research capability. Laser scanning is used on projects around the world with applications including the monitoring of actively growing volcanic lava domes, rapidly retreating glaciers and coastal erosion and platform evolution. It is also an established tool for inland and coastal landslide modelling, mapping of geological structures and fault boundaries and rock stability and subsidence feature analysis.

The RIEGL VZ-1000 is a long range, high speed laser scanner with a wide range of view. The VZ-1000 utilises unique echo digitisation and online waveform analysis to achieve superior performance and accuracies of measurement, even under adverse weather conditions. Achieving accuracies of 5 millimetres at ranges of up to 1,400 metres the VZ-1000 can capture up to 122,000 points per second with a 100 x 360-degree field of view.


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