Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

James R. Wood

Committee Member 1

Ann Maclean

Committee Member 2

Alexandria Guth


The main result of this study has been to show that detailed maps of the geology and morphology of alluvial fans can be generated from high spatial resolution (1-meter) DEM’s (Digital Elevation Models) obtained from LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data. DEMs with spatial resolutions of 1-meter, 10-meters and 30-meters were all examined but it was determined that only the 1-meter LiDAR data had sufficient spatial resolution to produce satisfactory maps of the geology and morphology. A case study on an alluvial fan in the Santa Rosa mountains northeast of the Salton Sea (California) showed that 1-meter spatial resolution LiDAR data could be used by itself to generate a detailed map of an alluvial fan that not only delineated the fan but also permitted detection and accurate mapping of various components of the fan such as debris flows, channel flows and sheet flows. The maps also revealed unique signatures for recent beach shorelines and showed features that were interpreted as levees in an active channel that ran through the alluvial fan. Profiles across the fan revealed the expected concave and convex morphology. These features were detected in sufficient detail to deduce an unambiguous geologic history as well as regions where the various processes interacted.

In addition to the geology/morphology maps, a statistical analysis comparing the 1-meter, 10-meter and 30-meter DEMs using the Spearmen Rank Correlation and Pearson Correlation showed no difference among the images. This suggests that elevation range is not influencing the images but rather it is the geospatial resolution that determines the details of the DEM and the Quaternary geological map.

Included in

Geology Commons