Abstract

We examined elevation changes detected from two successive sets of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data in the northern Coast Range of Oregon. The first set of LiDAR data was acquired during leaf-on conditions and the second set during leaf-off conditions. We were able to successfully identify and map active landslides using a differential digital elevation model (DEM) created from the two LiDAR data sets, but this required the use of thresholds (0.50 and 0.75 m) to remove noise from the differential elevation data, visual pattern recognition of landslide-induced elevation changes, and supplemental QuickBird satellite imagery. After mapping, we field-verified 88 percent of the landslides that we had mapped with high confidence, but we could not detect active landslides with elevation changes of less than 0.50 m. Volumetric calculations showed that a total of about 18,100 m3 of material was missing from landslide areas, probably as a result of systematic negative elevation errors in the differential DEM and as a result of removal of material by erosion and transport. We also examined the accuracies of 285 leaf-off LiDAR elevations at four landslide sites using Global Positioning System and total station surveys. A comparison of LiDAR and survey data indicated an overall root mean square error of 0.50 m, a maximum error of 2.21 m, and a systematic error of 0.09 m. LiDAR ground-point densities were lowest in areas with young conifer forests and deciduous vegetation, which resulted in extensive interpolations of elevations in the leaf-on, bare-earth DEM. For optimal use of multi-temporal LiDAR data in forested areas, we recommend that all data sets be flown during leaf-off seasons.

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