Skip To Content

Create derived rasters

When creating derived elevation rasters from lidar data, two raster datasets are typically required: the bare-earth DTM and the corresponding first-return DSM.

The most efficient way to make lidar data accessible to end users is to create these rasters, which reduce data volume, can be shared as image services, have the ability to quickly render the data in different ways, and can be used for surface analysis. The rasters from multiple projects can be shared with many users as a comprehensive yet maintainable image service (Create mosaic datasets and serve the raster data). Where required, references to the lidar source data can be maintained for users with specialized applications (Share 3D point files for user download).

To create derived elevation rasters, you'll first determine the appropriate parameters to generate them from your data. Then, you'll use either a LAS dataset, a mosaic dataset, or a terrain dataset to generate the derived rasters. Which of those options you choose depends on the availability of supporting data and your organization’s requirements for managing the bare-earth DTM. Finally, you can create mosaic datasets to manage the rasters, then serve them out to end users.


These workflows presume you have received lidar data in LAS or zLAS format, but the data provider did not create the raster surfaces (DTM and DSM) prior to delivery. If the DTM and DSM already exist, skip to Create mosaic datasets and serve the raster data.