Vertical Differencing [ Video Tutorial ]

Southern San Andreas Fault from Painted Canyon to Bombay Beach, CA
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This high-resolution topography dataset of the Southern San Andreas Fault (SSAF) includes a point cloud, digital surface model (DSM), and orthomosaic that span ~40 km strike-length of the fault from Painted Canyon south to Bombay Beach, California, USA. The survey width is ~0.5 - 0.7 km, resulting in over 30 km2 area. The point cloud contains 8.2 x 109 points, and the DSM and orthomosaic resolutions are 10 cm and 4 cm, respectively. Field work was completed over 3 days in February, 2020 when 15773 photographs were acquired with small uncrewed aerial system (sUAS). The final dataset was produced using structure-from-motion (SfM) processing of derived aerial photographs with georeferencing primarily from dGNSS onboard the sUAS. Vertical root-mean-square-error (RMSe) of the DSM is 0.040 m based on 155 checkpoints measured with dGNSS and horizontal RMSe is estimated to be 0.023 m based on 28 checkpoints that incorporated markers visible in aerial photographs.

Motivations to produce this open dataset include: the high earthquake hazard posed by the SSAF, the broad scientific interest in the area, the excellent ability to resolve the ground surface with SfM techniques due to the very sparse vegetation, and the complement to the existing B4 lidar data collected in 2005. This work also serves as a test-run for rapid response to a future surface-rupturing event, including the potential for repeat surveys to capture afterslip.

Use of the dataset should be acknowledged with authorship information and the DOI (see citation section below). For additional information, please contact Michael Bunds (

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