The Use of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) in Dune Ecosystems: The Lessons Learned Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper presents a methodology for using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to quantify sand dune geomorphology. As an example of the use of TLS, we present methods that were used to investigate changes in sediment and vegetation volumes after Hurricane Ike. We collected TLS data within a 100 m 100 m plot on the East Matagorda Peninsula, Texas, from early September 2008 (before landfall) to early October 2009 (a year after landfall). Terrestrial laser scanning-collected laser point clouds were then interpolated into several grid sizes. From several interpolated grid sizes, 0.50 m 0.50 m grids were determined best for analysis as they were able to compromise two competing resolution-related issues: gaps caused by vegetation shadows and the natural contours of the dune. We outline several additional lessons to aid coastal researchers in strengthening their own future work: the use of reference survey stakes in an unstable environment, the development of a novel method to test for errors in point cloud registration among multiple dates, how best to interpret sediment and vegetation change analysis as derived from interpolated grids, and suggestions for incorporating mass-based sedimentary and biomass-based vegetation field studies within the volumetric context of TLS analysis. 2014 Coastal Education & Research Foundation.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Feagin, R. A., Williams, A. M., Popescu, S., Stukey, J., & Washington-Allen, R. A.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Feagin, Rusty A||Williams, Amy M||Popescu, Sorin||Stukey, Jared||Washington-Allen, Robert A

publication date

  • January 2014