Structural Analysis of the Hero Range in the Qaidam Basin, Northwestern China, Using Integrated UAV, Terrestrial LiDAR, Landsat 8, and 3-D Seismic Data

Ninghua Chen, Nina Ni, Paul Kapp, Jianyu Chen, Ancheng Xiao, Hongge Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Quantitative structural analysis is a useful approach for studying geologic structures. It is particularly important in remote and complex fold-thrust belts where outcrop data and high-quality seismic reflection images are challenging to obtain. In this study, we integrated terrestrial light detection and ranging (LiDAR), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and Landsat 8 (L8) data to extract high-resolution topographic and surface geologic information and constrain interpretations of three-dimensional (3-D) seismic reflection data in the Hero Range of the Qaidam Basin (QB) in northwestern China. UAV images were used to obtain a digital elevation model (DEM) and to measure the orientation of sedimentary bedding. Terrestrial LiDAR data were used to generate high-resolution digital outcrops and to evaluate the accuracy of the UAV-based DEM. L8 images were used to distinguish different stratigraphic units. The random sample consensus (RANSAC) algorithm was adopted to ascertain the best-fit plane of bedding. The results show that UAV images can be used to construct a DEM with {< 1m resolution and orthophotos with 0.15-m resolution. Collectively, these data improve the ability to identify and measure small exposures of bedding surfaces. The RANSAC algorithm improves the accuracy of measuring bedding orientations by removing erroneous selection points and facilitating the recognition of second-order variations in bedding orientation. The integrated analysis of remotely sensed and 3-D seismic data indicates that, of the three anticlines within the Hero Range, two are fault-propagation folds (the Shizigou and Youshashan anticlines) and one is associated with a pop-up structure (Ganchaigou anticline).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7128319
Pages (from-to)4581-4591
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2015



  • Landsat 8 (L8)
  • Qaidam Basin (QB)
  • structural analysis
  • terrestrial light detection and ranging (LiDAR)
  • unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this