Integration of multitemporal and multisource data using point cloud based methods to quantify landscape change at the Mill Gulch earthflow, California

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Nikita N Avdievitch1,2 and Stephen B DeLong1, (1)US Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, United States, (2)University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
As high-resolution topographic data become increasingly available, comparison of multitemporal and disparate datasets (e.g. airborne and terrestrial lidar) enable high-accuracy quantification of landscape change and detailed mapping of surface processes. However, if these data are not properly managed and aligned with maximum precision, results may be spurious. Often this is due to slight differences in coordinate systems that require complex geographic transformations and systematic error that is difficult to diagnose and correct. Here we present an analysis of four airborne and three terrestrial lidar datasets collected between 2003 and 2014 that we use to quantify change at an active earthflow in Mill Gulch, Sonoma County, California. We first identify and address systematic error internal to each dataset, such as registration offset between flight lines or scan positions. We then use a variant of an iterative closest point (ICP) algorithm to align point cloud data by maximizing use of stable portions of the landscape with minimal internal error. Using products derived from the aligned point clouds, we make our geomorphic analyses. These methods may be especially useful for change detection analyses in which accurate georeferencing is unavailable, as is often the case with some terrestrial lidar or “structure from motion” data. Our results show that the Mill Gulch earthflow has been active throughout the study period. We see continuous downslope flow, ongoing incorporation of new hillslope material into the flow, sediment loss from hillslopes, episodic fluvial erosion of the earthflow toe, and an indication of increased activity during periods of high precipitation.