Is there a difference between 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEM data and lidar data?

Yes, lidar data are represented as a cloud of variably spaced point locations (x,y,z) of any terrestrial target reflecting the laser pulse. In addition to bare-earth, the point cloud will typically include buildings, trees, towers, and powerlines.

3DEP DEMs are raster surfaces of bare-earth elevation values sampled at uniform horizontal increments. 3DEP DEMs interpolated from bare-earth lidar points are considered a derived lidar product rather than actual lidar data.

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What types of elevation datasets are available, what formats do they come in, and where can I download?

Digital elevation data are available through The National Map Download Client . Click the “How To” link at the top of the viewer for detailed instructions on how to find and download data. The 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) products and services available through The National Map consist of standard digital elevation models (DEMs) at various...

What is Lidar data and where can I download it?

Lidar data are available through The National Map Download Client . Click the “How To” link at the top of the viewer for detailed instructions on how to find and download data. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is a technology similar to RADAR that can be used to create high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) with vertical accuracy as...

How can a user get 3DEP product updates?

Graphics showing 3DEP product availability and recent updates can be found on the 3DEP Product Availability Web page. Areas containing recent updates are refreshed monthly. Spatial metadata shapefiles showing the updated areas for each product are also available for download from the 3DEP Product Metadata Web page. Product updates can be acquired...

What are digital elevation models (DEMs)?

USGS Digital elevation models (DEMs) are arrays of regularly spaced elevation values referenced horizontally either to a Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection or to a geographic coordinate system. The grid cells are spaced at regular intervals along south to north profiles that are ordered from west to east. The USGS acquires bare-earth...
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Date published: February 7, 2019

USGS 3DEP Lidar Point Cloud Now Available as Amazon Public Dataset

The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is excited to announce the availability of a new way to access and process lidar point cloud data from the 3DEP repository.

Date published: January 23, 2017

Maps Made With Light Show the Way

The topic, officially, was water. But during a scientific conference in Butte, Montana, in 2013, earthquake expert Michael Stickney glimpsed something unexpected in a three-dimensional lidar image of the Bitterroot Valley in nearby Missoula.

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Automated GNIS Summit Core Generation
July 26, 2018

Automated GNIS Summit Core Generation

A few summit cores delineated by the National Terrain Mapping program in the Blue Ridge province, North Carolina. While many summits are mapped via the Geographic Names Information System points, boundaries for these features don't exist. This program is automating procedures to do so for the whole nation.

May 11, 2018

New 3D Model of the Drained Crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō

During an overflight on May 11, we collected thermal images of the crater at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and created an updated 3D model of the crater geometry. The collapse on April 30 produced a large cavity, with the deepest point roughly 350 m (1150 feet) below the crater rim.

November 18, 2004

PubTalk 11/2004 — From Plane Tables to Pixels

The Revolution in Mapping at the U.S. Geological Survey

by Susan P. Benjamin, Research Geographer

  • Mapping the United States in the 19th century was arduous, dangerous work; flash floods, bears, and bandits were just a few hazards
  • By the mid-20th century, aerial photography, photogrammetry, and stereophoto pairs, allowed
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