Rapid, semi-automatic fracture and contact mapping for point clouds, images and geophysical data
Abstract. The advent of large digital datasets from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and satellite platforms now challenges our ability to extract information across multiple scales in a timely manner, often meaning that the full value of the data is not realised. Here we adapt a least-cost-path solver and specially tailored cost functions to rapidly interpolate structural features between manually defined control points in point cloud and raster datasets. We implement the method in the geographic information system QGIS and the point cloud and mesh processing software CloudCompare. Using these implementations, the method can be applied to a variety of three-dimensional (3-D) and two-dimensional (2-D) datasets, including high-resolution aerial imagery, digital outcrop models, digital elevation models (DEMs) and geophysical grids.
We demonstrate the algorithm with four diverse applications in which we extract (1) joint and contact patterns in high-resolution orthophotographs, (2) fracture patterns in a dense 3-D point cloud, (3) earthquake surface ruptures of the Greendale Fault associated with the Mw7.1 Darfield earthquake (New Zealand) from high-resolution light detection and ranging (lidar) data, and (4) oceanic fracture zones from bathymetric data of the North Atlantic. The approach improves the consistency of the interpretation process while retaining expert guidance and achieves significant improvements (35–65 %) in digitisation time compared to traditional methods. Furthermore, it opens up new possibilities for data synthesis and can quantify the agreement between datasets and an interpretation.