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Studies of large-scale sedimentary architecture are mainly based on the interpretation of two-dimensional photomosaics. This method cannot account for the natural rugosity of outcrop exposures, introducing errors in the measurement of geobody sizes and orientations. In the past, three-dimensional outcrop studies have relied on time-intensive fieldwork, with irregular sampling and low geometric accuracy. More recently, terrestrial laser scanning, or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), has been widely applied to small-scale outcrops, but range and accessibility preclude its usage on larger-scale outcrops. Oblique helicopter-based laser scanning, however, allows the collection of tens of kilometres of outcrop sections in a relatively short time frame. In this paper, a procedure for collecting and processing such virtual outcrop data is outlined, and the application of the technique for extracting dimensions of fluvial geobodies from two large and otherwise inaccessible outcrops from Utah is presented. The results are compared to interpretations from more conventional photomosaicking of the same outcrops. Results show that the use of helicopter-based laser scanning enables geoscientists to rapidly acquire georeferenced data that can then be used for sedimentological interpretation and analysis on reservoir scales. It is concluded that helicopter-based laser scanning promotes sedimentological research and is well suited to capturing quantitative geometrical data from large outcrops.

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