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Illinois Height Modernization Program: Showcase of LiDAR Data Applications

This Showcase of LiDAR Data Applications documents real-world uses of Illinois LiDAR data. Projects address highway engineering, flood prediction, agricultural land management, mining subsidence, monitoring archaeological features, locating sinkholes, and applied geologic science.

March, 2012



Canopy Height Model of Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in central Ogle, County, Illinois

Mapping Natural and Cultural Features For Ecological Restoration  [2.5 MB pdf]


In the process of ecological restoration planning, Applied Ecological Services (AES) used both bare earth and first return LiDAR datasets to better understand the natural resources and cultural history of Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center located in central Ogle County, Illinois. Situated along the scenic bluffs of the Rock River, this property has a diverse and rich combination of karst, cultural and vegetation resources that were mapped quickly and accurately with LiDAR data.


Related resources:

Applied Ecological Services, Inc. (AES)





Image created using Ogle County 2009 LiDAR




LiDAR used at bridge crossing

Improving Illinois Highways  [1.3 MB pdf]


The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has responsibility for planning, construction and maintenance of Illinois' extensive transportation network, which encompasses, highways and bridges, airports, public transit, rail freight and rail passenger systems. IDOT has recently begun to employ LiDAR data to supplement traditional route surveys and to analyze delineations of flood easements, drainage areas, roadside ditches, and sizing of culverts.


Related resources:

Illinois Department of Transportation





Image created using Carroll County 2009 LiDAR




LiDAR image with new detailed flood prediction boundaries

Water Resource Analysis and Flood Prediction  [2.75 MB pdf]


LiDAR elevation data has been incorporated into most aspects of flood studies at Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office of Water Resources. LiDAR data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping applications have greatly improved the efficiency and accuracy of traditional water resource analyses.


Related resources:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources - Office of Water Resources





Image created using Will County 2004 LiDAR




LiDAR image Clarence Smith Farm

Agricultural Drainage Problems  [1.5 MB pdf]


The Clarence Smith farm, located in northwest Kendall County, Illinois, contains a natural depression (~5 acres) that has historically been prone to flooding. LiDAR elevation data of the area created a detailed image that can be used as an additional tool in planning future repairs to the existing field tile system.


Related resources:

LiDAR mapping for farmers





Image created from Kendall County 2010 LiDAR




LiDAR was used to create new detailed Flood Hazard Area Boundaries

Updating Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps and More  [1.2 MB pdf]


The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) has made a huge commitment, signing a Cooperating Technical Partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to perform the full spectrum of tasks necessary to "modernize" Illinois' Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). High-resoultion LiDAR elevation data is an indispensible component of that work.


Related resources:

Illinois Floodplain Maps - Map Modernization Project





Flood zones mapped using Will County 2004 LiDAR




Mine subsidence LiDAR example in Illinois

Detection of Old Longwall Coal Mine Boundaries  [1.65 MB pdf]


Newly acquired LiDAR data has been used to generate detailed surface topography maps for Grundy County. These maps show that in some cases the roughly 2 feet of ground subsidence, that was part of longwall mining operations, can still be detected over 100 years later.


Related resources:

Coal Mines in Illinois, Coal City Quadrangle Map and Report  [2.9 MB pdf]

Longwall Mining -- history on page 17  [<1 MB pdf]



Image created from Grundy County 2008 LiDAR




LiDAR used in creating Oregon 7.5-minute Quadrangle

Geologic Mapping in Ogle County  [1.6 MB pdf]


LiDAR elevation data has been acquired and used in the mapping of the Oregon 7.5-minute Quadrangle in Ogle County, Illinois.The high-resolution data allows for accurate location of field observations and results in higher quality geologic maps.


Related resources:

Oregon Quadrangle - Bedrock Geology





Image created using Ogle County 2009 LiDAR




LiDAR image of bird effigy mound in Illinois

Monitoring Illinois Prehistoric Burial Mounds  [1.8 MB pdf]


Illinois has over 58,000 reported archaeological sites containing 9000+ prehistoric earthen mounds. Many of these mounds sites were reported early in the last century and the records are missing critical data on location, size, numbers, and current condition. Since mounds are protected by state law their location and condition is important information for both the preservationist and development communities.


Related resources:

Illinois State Archaeological Survey - LiDAR





Image created from Jo Daviess County 2008 LiDAR




LiDAR image with lineaments and other karst features noted

Characterizing Karst Terrane in Illinois  [1.4 MB pdf]


Lineaments, sinkholes and some other karst features can be excellent groundwater flow paths. This can lead to potential groundwater contamination in areas with high volumes of contaminants at the ground surface. Detailed LiDAR elevation data have great value for the use in characterization of Karst Terrane which can lead to proper regulation of surface materials and waste in those areas.


Related resources:

Illinois State Geological Survey - Geobit 7: Karst Landscapes of Illinois





Image created using Jo Daviess County 2008 LiDAR




LiDAR image with sinkhole clusters

Detecting Karst Features in Forested Terrain  [1.7 MB pdf]


Illinois State Geological Survey scientists are using LiDAR elevation data to better understand the fabric and geometry of the crevice karst aquifers that constitute the groundwater resources of Jo Daviess County in northwestern Illinois.Collapse of sediment into crevices creates sinkholes that can be directly oberved in the LiDAR elevation data.


Related resources:

Illinois State Geological Survey - Geobit 7: Karst Landscapes of Illinois





Image created using Jo Daviess County 2008 LiDAR




LiDAR image of ice-walled lake plain in Illinois

Ice-walled Lake Plains in Illinois  [1.4 MB pdf]


Ice-walled lake plains are periglacial landforms that formed after glacial ice stagnates. Ranging from 30 feet to 6 miles across, there are more than 2,500 of them in Illinois, with the highest concentrations in DeKalb, Kane, and Livingston Counties. They also occur elsewhere in North America, most notably in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In Illinois, ice-walled lake plains are subtle landforms, and shaded relief maps of LiDAR data are instrumental in helping to identify and map them.


Related resources:

DeKalb Mounds of northeastern Illinois  [1.8 MB pdf]

Ice-walled lake terraces LiDAR poster  [12.2 MB pdf]

Surface Geology of Hampshire Quadrangle  [5.2 MB pdf]

Image created from Lake County 2004 LiDAR




LiDAR perspective view of two dunes

Morphology of Dune Complexes  [1.6 MB pdf]


Sand dunes are a particularly prominent landform feature within the Green River Lowland of Whiteside County. The exceptional horizontal resolution (~3 ft.) and vertical resolution (~1 ft.) of LiDAR elevation data makes it ideal for examining the morphology of these dunes, which have heretofore not been mapped in this detail.


Related resources:

Illinois State Geological Survey - May 2010 Activity Highlights

Distribution of Surficial Eolian and Outwash Sand Deposits, Lee County, Illinois  [3.8 MB pdf]

Surficial Sand Deposits, Bureau County, Illinois





Image created using Whiteside County 2009 LiDAR