Terrestrial laser scanning for use in virtual outcrop geology

Simon J. Buckley*, Håvard D. Enge, Christian Carlsson, John A. Howell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses the application of laser scanning and photo-realistic modelling to aid the study of geological outcrops, using two examples from central and eastern Utah, USA, which are analogues to subsurface hydrocarbon fields. Terrestrial laser scanning point clouds were triangulated to obtain high-resolution surface representations, which were combined with semi-metric imagery to give texture-mapped photo-realistic models of the outcrops. Such models provide the basis for geological interpretation and were used to reconstruct the geometries of layers over the extent of the study area. The digitised geological layers were in turn used to build geocellular volumes that capture the properties of the geology. These models were built in subsurface reservoir modelling software and were used to simulate the flow of fluids through the reservoir analogue. In this way, the spatial information provided significantly more detailed quantitative data and greatly improved the outcrop studies compared to traditional field techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-239
Number of pages15
JournalPhotogrammetric Record
Issue number131
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Digital terrain model
  • Geology
  • Lidar
  • Photo-realistic models
  • Subsurface reservoir modelling
  • Visualisation


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