How do I decompress USGS lidar data in LAZ 1.4 format?

USGS lidar data in LAZ 1.4 format has been compressed using a recently updated tool from LAStools.  Until the commercial software industry implements direct support for this new compressed format, the user will need to decompress the LAZ 1.4 data to LAS 1.4 format before importing into common GIS software.  USGS recommends using the following procedures:

  1. Download the open-source LASzip tool, available at:

  2. Extract the tool into a new folder on your hard drive.

  3. Under that folder, browse to the ”\LAStools\bin” folder.

  4. Run the executable file “laszip.exe”.  This will bring up the laszip user interface window.

  5. Click on the “browse…” button.

  6. In the “directory” field, enter the Drive Letter of the LAZ file(s) location (ex: D:\), then click “go”.

  7. Browse to the folder where your .LAZ files are located.

  8. In the “wildcard” field, only turn on the “.laz” choice.

  9. Double-click on one or more .laz file(s) to load into the upper left window.  If you want to decompress all the .laz files in the folder, just click the “add” button.  The footprint of each file will appear in the center graphical window.

  10. When all desired .laz files are loaded, click the “DECOMPRESS” button, after ensuring that the “LAS” option is checked on.

  11. Click “START” on the ensuing RUN window to run the laszip command.  The output .las file(s) having the same prefix(es) will be placed into the same folder as the input file(s).

  12. Click on the “README” button for details on how to run the command-line version of laszip.

Example of laszip user interface:

Example: laszip user interface