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This contribution reviews the use of modern 3D photo-based surface reconstruction techniques for high fidelity surveys of trenches, rock exposures and hand specimens to highlight their potential for paleoseismology and structural geology.... more
This contribution reviews the use of modern 3D photo-based surface reconstruction techniques for high fidelity surveys of trenches, rock exposures and hand specimens to highlight their potential for paleoseismology and structural geology. We outline the general approach to data acquisition and processing using ground-based photographs acquired from standard DSLR cameras, and illustrate the use of similar processing approaches on imagery from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). It is shown that digital map and trench data can be acquired at ultra-high resolution and in much shorter time intervals than would be normally achievable through conventional grid mapping. The resulting point clouds and textured models are inherently multidimensional (x, y, z, point orientation, colour, texture), archival and easily transformed into orthorectified photomosaics or digital elevation models (DEMs). We provide some examples for the use of such techniques in structural geology and paleoseismology while pointing the interested reader to free and commercial software packages for data processing, visualization and 3D interpretation. Photogrammetric models serve to act as an ideal electronic repository for critical outcrops and observations, similar to the electronic lab book approach employed in the biosciences. This paper also highlights future possibilities for rapid semi-automatic to automatic interpretation of the data and advances in technology.
We describe a framework for deriving sequences of digital elevation models (DEMs) for the analysis of active lava flows using oblique stereo-pair time-lapse imagery. A photo-based technique was favoured over laser-based alternatives due... more
We describe a framework for deriving sequences of digital elevation models (DEMs) for the analysis of active lava flows using oblique stereo-pair time-lapse imagery. A photo-based technique was favoured over laser-based alternatives due to low equipment cost, high portability and capability for network expansion, with images of advancing flows captured by digital SLR cameras over durations of up to several hours. However, under typical field scale scenarios, relative camera orientations cannot be rigidly maintained (e.g. through the use of a stereo bar), preventing the use of standard stereo time-lapse processing software. Thus, we trial semi-automated DEM-sequence workflows capable of handling the small camera motions, variable image quality and restricted photogrammetric control that result from the practicalities of data collection at remote and hazardous sites. The image processing workflows implemented either link separate close-range photogrammetry and traditional stereo-matching software, or are integrated in a single software package based on structure-from-motion (SfM). We apply these techniques in contrasting case studies from Kilauea volcano, Hawaii and Mount Etna, Sicily, which differ in scale, duration and image texture. On Kilauea, the advance direction of thin fluid lava lobes was difficult to forecast, preventing good distribution of control. Consequently, volume changes calculated through the different workflows differed by ∼10% for DEMs (over ∼30 m2) that were captured once a minute for 37 min. On Mt. Etna, more predictable advance (∼3 m h−1 for ∼3 h) of a thicker, more viscous lava allowed robust control to be deployed and volumetric change results were generally within 5% (over ∼500 m2). Overall, the integrated SfM software was more straightforward to use and, under favourable conditions, produced results comparable to those from the close-range photogrammetry pipeline. However, under conditions with limited options for photogrammetric control, error in SfM-based surfaces may be difficult to detect.
High resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) are increasingly produced from photographs acquired with consumer cameras, both from the ground and from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, although such DEMs may achieve centimetric... more
High resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) are increasingly produced from photographs acquired with consumer cameras, both from the ground and from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, although such DEMs may achieve centimetric detail, they can also display systematic broad-scale error that restricts their wider use. Such errors which, in typical UAV data are expressed as a vertical ‘doming’ of the surface, result from a combination of near-parallel imaging directions and inaccurate correction of radial lens distortion. Using simulations of multi-image networks with near-parallel viewing directions, we show that enabling camera self-calibration as part of the bundle adjustment process inherently leads to erroneous radial distortion estimates and associated DEM error. This effect is relevant whether a traditional photogrammetric or newer structure-from-motion (SfM) approach is used, but errors are expected to be more pronounced in SfM-based DEMs, for which use of control and check point measurements are typically more limited. Systematic DEM error can be significantly reduced by the additional capture and inclusion of oblique images in the image network; we provide practical flight plan solutions for fixed wing or rotor-based UAVs that, in the absence of control points, can reduce DEM error by up to two orders of magnitude. The magnitude of doming error shows a linear relationship with radial distortion and we show how characterisation of this relationship allows an improved distortion estimate and, hence, existing datasets to be optimally reprocessed. Although focussed on UAV surveying, our results are also relevant to ground-based image capture. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Terrestrial laser scanning is the current technique of choice for acquiring high resolution topographic data at the site scale (i.e. over tens to hundreds of metres), for accurate volume measurements or process modelling. However, in... more
Terrestrial laser scanning is the current technique of choice for acquiring high resolution topographic data at the site scale (i.e. over tens to hundreds of metres), for accurate volume measurements or process modelling. However, in regions of complex topography with multiple local horizons, restricted lines of sight significantly hinder use of such tripod-based instruments by requiring multiple setups to achieve full coverage of the area. We demonstrate a novel hand-held mobile laser scanning technique that offers particular promise for site-scale topographic surveys of complex environments. To carry out a survey, the hand-held mobile laser scanner (HMLS) is walked across a site, mapping around the surveyor continuously en route. We assess the accuracy of HMLS data by comparing survey results from an eroding coastal cliff site with those acquired by a state-of-the-art terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) and also with the results of a photo-survey, processed by structure from motion and multi-view stereo (SfM-MVS) algorithms. HMLS data are shown to have a root mean square (RMS) difference to the benchmark TLS data of 20 mm, not dissimilar to that of the SfM-MVS survey (18 mm). The efficiency of the HMLS system in complex terrain is demonstrated by acquiring topographic data covering ~780 m2 of salt-marsh gullies, with a mean point spacing of 4.4 cm, in approximately six minutes. We estimate that HMLS surveying of gullies is approximately 40 times faster than using a TLS and six times faster than using SfM-MVS. © 2013 The Authors. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Monitoring the topography of active lava domes is critical for detecting changes that may trigger or influence collapse or explosive activity. Internal dome structure and conditions are more difficult to elucidate, but also play vital... more
Monitoring the topography of active lava domes is critical for detecting changes that may trigger or influence collapse or explosive activity. Internal dome structure and conditions are more difficult to elucidate, but also play vital roles. Here, we describe the exposure (following an explosion) of significant scarps in the active dome at Volcán de Colima, Mexico, that are interpreted as evidence of brittle failure planes and a complex internal dome morphology. In the first use of automated 3D computer vision reconstruction techniques (structure-from-motion and multi-view stereo, SfM-MVS) on an active volcanic dome, we derive high resolution surface models from oblique and archive photographs taken with a consumer camera. The resulting 3D models were geo-referenced using features identified in a web-sourced orthoimage; no ground-based measurements were required. In December 2010, the dome (2.14 × 106 m3) had a flat upper surface, reflecting an overall ductile emplacement regime. Between then and May 2011, a period of low explosivity was accompanied by a small volume loss (0.4 × 105 m3) and arcuate steps appeared in the dome surface, suggesting the presence of localized planes of weakness. The complex array of summit scarps was exposed following a significant explosion in June 2011, and is interpreted to be the surface expression of fault planes in the dome. The 1-m resolution DEMs indicated that the region of greatest volume loss was not coincident with the assumed location of the conduit, and that heterogeneity within the dome may have been important during the June explosion.
Topographic measurements for detailed studies of processes such as erosion or mass movement are usually acquired by expensive laser scanners or rigorous photogrammetry. Here, we test and use an alternative technique based on freely... more
Topographic measurements for detailed studies of processes such as erosion or mass movement are usually acquired by expensive laser scanners or rigorous photogrammetry. Here, we test and use an alternative technique based on freely available computer vision software which allows general geoscientists to easily create accurate 3D models from field photographs taken with a consumer-grade camera. The approach integrates structure-from-motion (SfM) and multiview-stereo (MVS) algorithms and, in contrast to traditional photogrammetry techniques, it requires little expertise and few control measurements, and processing is automated. To assess the precision of the results, we compare SfM-MVS models spanning spatial scales of centimeters (a hand sample) to kilometers (the summit craters of Piton de la Fournaise volcano) with data acquired from laser scanning and formal close-range photogrammetry. The relative precision ratio achieved by SfM-MVS (measurement precision: observation distance) is limited by the straightforward camera calibration model used in the software, but generally exceeds 1:1000 (i.e., centimeter-level precision over measurement distances of 10 s of meters). We apply SfM-MVS at an intermediate scale, to determine erosion rates along a ∼50-m-long coastal cliff. Seven surveys carried out over a year indicate an average retreat rate of 0.70 ± 0.05 m a−1. Sequential erosion maps (at ∼0.05 m grid resolution) highlight the spatiotemporal variability in the retreat, with semivariogram analysis indicating a correlation between volume loss and length scale. Compared with a laser scanner survey of the same site, SfM-MVS produced comparable data and reduced data collection time by ∼80%.
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During long-lived basaltic eruptions, overflows from lava channels and breaching of channel levées are important processes in the development of extensive 'a'ā lava flow-fields. Short-lived breaches result in inundation of areas adjacent... more
During long-lived basaltic eruptions, overflows from lava channels and breaching of channel levées are important processes in the development of extensive 'a'ā lava flow-fields. Short-lived breaches result in inundation of areas adjacent to the main channel. However, if a breach remains open, lava supply to the original flow front is significantly reduced, and flow-field widening is favoured over lengthening. The development of channel breaches and overflows can therefore exert strong control over the overall flow-field development, but the processes that determine their location and frequency are currently poorly understood. During the final month of the 2008–2009 eruption of Mt. Etna, Sicily, a remote time-lapse camera was deployed to monitor events in a proximal region of a small ephemeral lava flow. For over a period of ~10 h, the flow underwent changes in surface elevation and velocity, repeated overflows of varying vigour and the construction of a channel roof (a required prelude to lava tube formation). Quantitative interpretation of the image sequence was facilitated by a 3D model of the scene constructed using structure-from-motion computer vision techniques. As surface activity waned during the roofing process, overflow sites retreated up the flow towards the vent, and eventually, a new flow was initiated. Our observations and measurements indicate that flow surface stagnation and flow inflation propagated up-flow at an effective rate of ~6 m h−1, and that these processes, rather than effusion rate variations, were ultimately responsible for the most vigorous overflow events. We discuss evidence for similar controls during levée breaching and channel switching events on much larger flows on Etna, such as during the 2001 eruption.
During long-lived basaltic eruptions, overflows from lava channels and breaching of channel levées are important processes in the development of extensive 'a'ā lava flow-fields. Short-lived breaches result in inundation of areas adjacent... more
During long-lived basaltic eruptions, overflows from lava channels and breaching of channel levées are important processes in the development of extensive 'a'ā lava flow-fields. Short-lived breaches result in inundation of areas adjacent to the main channel. However, if a breach remains open, lava supply to the original flow front is significantly reduced, and flow-field widening is favoured over lengthening. The development of channel breaches and overflows can therefore exert strong control over the overall flow-field development, but the processes that determine their location and frequency are currently poorly understood. During the final month of the 2008–2009 eruption of Mt. Etna, Sicily, a remote time-lapse camera was deployed to monitor events in a proximal region of a small ephemeral lava flow. For over a period of ~10 h, the flow underwent changes in surface elevation and velocity, repeated overflows of varying vigour and the construction of a channel roof (a required prelude to lava tube formation). Quantitative interpretation of the image sequence was facilitated by a 3D model of the scene constructed using structure-from-motion computer vision techniques. As surface activity waned during the roofing process, overflow sites retreated up the flow towards the vent, and eventually, a new flow was initiated. Our observations and measurements indicate that flow surface stagnation and flow inflation propagated up-flow at an effective rate of ~6 m h−1, and that these processes, rather than effusion rate variations, were ultimately responsible for the most vigorous overflow events. We discuss evidence for similar controls during levée breaching and channel switching events on much larger flows on Etna, such as during the 2001 eruption.
A rigorous analysis of the timing and location of flank eruptions of Mount Etna on Sicily is important for the creation of hazard maps of the densely populated area surrounding the volcano. In this paper, we analyse the temporal,... more
A rigorous analysis of the timing and location of flank eruptions of Mount Etna on Sicily is important for the creation of hazard maps of the densely populated area surrounding the volcano. In this paper, we analyse the temporal, volumetric and spatial data on eruptive activity on Etna. Our analyses are based on the two most recent and robust historical data catalogues of flank eruption activity on Etna, with one from 1669 to 2008 and the other from 1610 to 2008. We use standard statistical methodology and modelling techniques, though a number of features are new to the analysis of eruption data. Our temporal analysis reveals that flank eruptions on Mount Etna between 1610 and 2008 follow an inhomogeneous Poisson process, with intensity of eruptions increasing nearly linearly since the mid-1900s. Our temporal analysis reveals no evidence of cyclicity over this period. An analysis of volumetric lava flow rates shows a marked increase in activity since 1971. This increase, which coincides with the formation of the Southeast Crater (SEC), appears to be related to increased activity on and around the SEC. This has significant implications for hazard analysis on Etna.
Abstract[1] Regular topographic surveys of active lava flows could provide significant insight into the development of flow fields, but data of sufficient accuracy, spatial extent and repeat frequency to quantify the processes involved... more
Abstract[1] Regular topographic surveys of active lava flows could provide significant insight into the development of flow fields, but data of sufficient accuracy, spatial extent and repeat frequency to quantify the processes involved have yet to be acquired. Here, we report results from the use of a new very-long-range terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) on active lavas at Mount Etna, Sicily. The scanner proved capable of providing useful topographic data from volcanic terrain at ranges up to ∼3500 m, with laser returns from ash-covered slopes as well as from lava. Despite very low effusion rates (<1 m3s−1), topographic changes associated with the emplacement and inflation of new flows and the inflation of a tumulus were detected. Irregular data spacing resulting from oblique views makes the interpretation of laser-derived digital elevation models alone difficult, but fusing topographic data with thermal images allows active flow features to be clearly visualized.
Abstract[1] Understanding the processes involved with the advance of lava flows is critical for improving hazard assessments at many volcanoes. Here, we describe the application of computer vision and oblique photogrammetric techniques to... more
Abstract[1] Understanding the processes involved with the advance of lava flows is critical for improving hazard assessments at many volcanoes. Here, we describe the application of computer vision and oblique photogrammetric techniques to visible and thermal images of active 'a'ā flows in order to investigate distal flow processes at Mount Etna, Sicily. Photogrammetric surveys were carried out to produce repeated topographic data sets for calculation of volumetric lava flux at the flow-fronts. Velocity profiles from a distal channel were obtained by rectification of a thermal image sequence and are used to investigate the rheological properties of the lava. Significant variations of the magma flux were observed, and pulses of increased flux arrived within the flow-front region on timescales of several hours. The pulses are believed to be the distal result of more frequent flux changes observed in the vent region. Hence they reflect the importance of flow processes which are believed to cause the coalescence of flux pulses along the channel system as well as short-period variations in effusion rate. In considering advance processes for the individual flow-fronts, it must be assumed that they were fed by a highly unsteady flux, which was volumetrically at least an order of magnitude lower than that observed near the vent.
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Digital images from hand-held cameras are increasingly being acquired for scientific purposes, particularly where non-contact measurement is required. However, they frequently consist of oblique views with significant camera-to-object... more
Digital images from hand-held cameras are increasingly being acquired for scientific purposes, particularly where non-contact measurement is required. However, they frequently consist of oblique views with significant camera-to-object depth variations and occlusions that complicate quantitative analyses. Here, we report the use of oblique photogrammetric techniques to determine ground-based thermal camera orientations (position and pointing direction), and to generate scene information for lava flows at Mount Etna, Sicily. Multiple images from a consumer grade digital SLR camera are used to construct a topographic model and reference associated ground-based thermal imagery. We present data collected during the 2004–2005 eruption and use the derived surface model to apply viewing distance corrections (to account for atmospheric attenuation) to the thermal images on a pixel-by-pixel basis. For viewing distances of ~100 to 400 m, the corrections result in systematic changes in emissive power of up to ±3% with respect to values calculated assuming a uniform average viewing distance across an image.
This research provides an overview of the large-scale physical model experiments conducted at the Canal d'Investigaciò i Esperimentaciò Mar‘ıtima, Laboratori d'Enginyeria Mar‘ıtima, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, within... more
This research provides an overview of the large-scale physical model experiments conducted at the Canal d'Investigaciò i Esperimentaciò Mar‘ıtima, Laboratori d'Enginyeria Mar‘ıtima, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, within the EU-Hydralab III Integrated Infrastructure Initiative. The model tests have been carried out in a flume with a sandy dune exposed to a combination of water levels and wave conditions. Different regimes of wave attacks on the sandy beach/dune system were investigated. In particular, the study provides a unique set of large-scale physical data concerning the wave-induced dune overwash. Measurements of velocities, sediment concentrations and beach–dune profile evolutions were considered. The profile measurements have been used to calibrate and validate a numerical model predicting the beach–dune profile modifications over the near-shore region. The numerical model compares well with the experimental data.

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