Aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) methodology involves taking a scan of the ground below from an aircraft-mounted laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. Using differences in the laser’s return times and reflected wavelengths, LiDAR can then be used to make 3-dimensional digital representations of the earth's surface and features.

In 2010, a Regional LiDAR Project was a cooperatively funded project of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Albuquerque District, and the MRCOG. The project acquired high resolution LiDAR data in Spring 2010 for an area of approximately 1,233 square miles in Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia Counties, New Mexico.

The data supports a variety of applications including:

  • Alternative energy suitability analyses
  • Environmental resource assessment
  • Flood hazard analyses
  • Floodplain mapping
  • Geomorphic or vegetation studies
  • Hydrologic / hydraulic modeling
  • Infrastructure development
  • Land use planning

The Project focused on acquisition of 2-foot contour equivalent elevation data suitable for input into the National Elevation Dataset (NED) at 1/9 arc second resolution. Secondly, an area approximating the 500-year floodplain of the Rio Grande was identified for acquisition and processing for 1-foot contour equivalent terrain data.


Data deliverables include:

  • Raw point-cloud (unclassified) LAS files
  • Point cloud classified, tiled LA files
  • Bare Earth Digital Terrain Model (DTM) files
  • Digital Elevation Model Mosaic files
  • 1 and 2-foot contours for select areas
  • All associated reports and metadata

See the interactive map linked below to view coverage areas and available data details: (map under development).

In 2018, MRCOG again partnered with multiple regional agencies to acquire aerial LiDAR of USGS Quality Level 2 (QL2) standards for approximately 2,349 square miles of the Albuquerque metro area to include urban, suburban, and rural landscapes in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance, and Valencia Counties.

Project deliverables include:

  • Classified point-cloud, Tiled LAS files
    • Classified to identify ground, water, buildings and vegetation heights
  • Unclassified Point-cloud Swath LAS files
  • Bare Earth Digital Elevation Model (DEM) files - All DEMs were created with a grid spacing of 2.0-feet. DEMs for this project were cut to match the tile index and its corresponding tile names and delivered in 32-bit floating point .tif format.
  • Hydro Breakline Shapefiles/Geodatabase (identifying water bodies > 2 acres, stream & rivers >100ft nominal width)
  • RGB LiDAR Fusion Dataset (essentially a 3d Ortho-image)
  • ESRI Terrain dataset of all ground points
  • Building footprints and elevations
  • Associated reports and metadata

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