LiDAR is an amazing tool that can reveal hidden features on the earth’s surface. In Washington State, geologists used LiDAR to create stunning surface models that vividly depict landslides, faults, floods, glaciers and erosion scars.
Scientists and engineers, such as fluvial geomorphologists, can use LiDAR to study ancient topographic features. In the image on the right, an air photo shows only the active, treeless channels of the Sauk River. In contrast, in the image on the left, a LiDAR Relative Elevation model (REM) reveals many former, meandering channels of the same river. Fluvial geomorphologists can study the information presented in the REM to decipher important characteristics of the channel including the rivers meander belt width. To learn more about LiDAR, check out this article.