We present a new method for reconstructing flood basalt lava flows from outcrop data, using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to generate three-dimensional (3D) models. Case studies are presented from the Faroe Islands and the Isle of Skye (UK), both part of the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP). These were analyzed to pick out lava flow tops and bases, as well as dykes, lava tubes, and sedimentary layers. Three-dimensional surfaces were then generated using modeling software, and 3D geological models constructed. Finally, the models were interrogated to give data on flow thickness and crust-to-core ratio.
The aim of this research is to obtain quantitative data on the internal heterogeneity of a sequence of flood basalt lava flows, and to provide high-resolution information about flow geometries and volcanic facies variations in 3D. Lava flow sequences display complex stacking patterns, and these are difficult to understand from photos or outcrop observations. Laser scanning allows us to study inaccessible outcrops, while avoiding the perspective distortion in conventional photography. The data from this study will form parts of larger models of flood basalt provinces, which will be used to improve seismic imaging in areas of basalt cover, and aid our understanding of facies architecture in flood basalts.