Laser ranging is extremely accurate and efficient. Terrestrial scanning lidar (light detection and ranging) applied to outcrop stratigraphic mapping enables researchers to capture laser range data at a rate of thousands of individual X, Y, Z and laser-intensity points per second. These data, in conjunction with complementary remotely and directly sampled data, are used to conduct high-precision facies characterization and to construct 3D geological computer models. Outcrop data are presented here to explain our workflow and to discuss the construction of rock-based 3D Digital Outcrop Models (DOMs). Reproducibility and quantification are the drivers of this methodology. High-resolution terrestrial lidar acquisition, processing, interpretation, and visualization are discussed and applied to mapping of geological surfaces in three dimensions. Laser-generated models offer scientists an unprecedented visualization medium in a quantitative 3D arena. Applications of this technology include constructing and visualizing complex 3D Earth models from outcrops for improved reservoir modeling, flow simulation in hydrocarbon and aquifer systems, and property modeling to constrain forward seismic modeling.

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