What is the vertical accuracy of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEMs?

The most recently published figure of absolute vertical accuracy of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEMs within the conterminous United States, in terms of the National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy (NSSDA) at 95% confidence level, is 3.04 meters. 

It is important to note that the vertical accuracy actually varies significantly across the U.S. because of differences in source quality, terrain relief, land cover, and other factors. 

Learn more: Accuracy Assessment of the U.S. Geological Survey National Elevation Dataset, and Comparison with Other Large-Area Elevation Datasets—SRTM and ASTER

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What data sources are used to produce the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) DEMs?

The USGS plans to have high-quality lidar  and  IfSAR  (for Alaska) coverage for all of the United States and its territories. As data becomes available, legacy Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are being systematically replaced with new, high-resolution DEMs produced almost entirely from the lidar and ifsar data.  Sources that were used to produce...

What is the difference between lidar data and a digital elevation model (DEM)?

Light detection and ranging (lidar ) data are collected from aircraft using sensors that detect the reflections of a pulsed laser beam. The reflections are recorded as millions of individual points, collectively called a “point cloud,” that represent the 3D positions of objects on the surface including buildings, vegetation, and the ground...

How do I report errors in 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) elevation data?

If you think you’ve found an error in USGS elevation data, please send an email to tnm_help@usgs.gov . We will add the reported information to our "Digital Elevation Model Issues" data log for further analysis and possible correction. Spikes, pits, seam-line anomalies, and other data errors are of concern to us. We are working to correct or...

How accurate are elevations generated by the Elevation Point Query Service in The National Map?

The National Map’s   Elevation Point Query Service returns elevations that are interpolated from the 1/3 arc-second  3D Elevation Program  (3DEP) DEM dataset. These interpolated point elevations are not official and do not represent precisely measured ground surveyed values.     Elevations derived for a specific location using the Elevation Point...
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Date published: October 23, 2019

USGS Digital Elevation Models (DEM) Switching to New Distribution Format

In support of ongoing efforts to provide efficient, cloud ready, open data formats, the U.S. Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is announcing plans to migrate its 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Digital Elevation Models (DEM) to a new data delivery format called Cloud Optimized Geotiff (COG) during the first half of fiscal year 2020.

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: October 30, 2018

USGS Topo Base Map Refreshed and Other Updates

The “USGS Topo Base Map” service named “USGS Topo” has been refreshed with new data and design changes. In addition, several of the “Data Availability”, or “Data Index” services have new cloud hosted URLs.

Date published: August 8, 2018

New Elevation Map Service Available From the USGS 3D Elevation Program

The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) announces the availability of a new dynamic map service.

Date published: May 23, 2018

Keeping Current with Map Services Made Easier

The National Map provides a new Simple Notification Service and has new URLs for some of its thematic cartographic map services.

Date published: September 5, 2016


It’s not a radar for liars, it’s this week’s Earthword...

Filter Total Items: 8
3DEP Map Viewer
December 31, 2018

3DEP Map Viewer

3DEP added a dynamic map service for accessing lidar data on the fly

NGTOC - 3DEP mountains
September 24, 2018

NGTOC - 3DEP mountains

NGTOC - 3DEP mountains

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.

3dep_Alaska Denali
December 31, 2012

3dep_Alaska Denali

This image is an oblique view of Denali, viewed from the northeast. The image is IFSAR data, colored by elevation, with a hillshade relief applied.

video thumbnail: Elevation
April 30, 2012


The National Elevation Dataset (NED) is the primary elevation data product produced and distributed by the USGS National 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). The NED provides seamless raster elevation data of the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the island territories. The NED is derived from diverse source data sets that are processed to a specification with a

3dep_Channel Islands Santacruz
April 1, 2011

3dep_Channel Islands Santacruz

A 1-meter DEM created from a full-waveform LiDAR point cloud. The full waveform LiDAR enabled highly accurate and detailed surface modeling within the small crevices used by nesting birds, acknowledged by the NPS as vital to their understanding of the unique habitat and ecosystem of the Channel Islands.

November 18, 2010

PubTalk 11/2010 — Silicon, Software, and Science

Monitoring the Earth's Landscape with Low-Cost High-Tech

by Rian Bogle, Remote Sensing Specialist


  • The USGS is one of the world's largest providers of remote sensing data, employing the best tools and techniques to expand our knowledge of the Earth.
  • Working with low-cost field and aerial imaging technologies,