Earthquake Fault Surveys

Borah Peak in Idaho

In 1983, about 40 kilometers of the Lost River Fault zone ruptured, generating the magnitude 7.3 Borah Peak earthquake. Understanding the fault-rupture processes of the Borah Peak Earthquake (e.g., the magnitude and extent of surface deformation) is important to modeling the energy release of future earthquakes and improving seismic-hazard characterizations such as the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps.

In May 2016 a collaborative project between the USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center (GHSC) and National Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office (NUPO), utilized the Falcon fixed wing UAS to acquire high resolution aerial photography for selected areas of the Borah Peak fault rupture that already had available aerial LIDAR data. After the data was successfully acquired, structure-from-motion derived point clouds were generated to conduct a point cloud comparison and accuracy analysis against historic LiDAR data.

Comparison of these structure-from-motion derived point clouds with airborne LIDAR of the Borah Peak earthquake rupture will help facilitate workflows for vertical and lateral displacement measurements, and highlight the benefits and limitations of each technology. These products aid in the survey's understanding of the fault rupture process and are important to modeling the energy release of future earthquakes.

USGS researcher Joe Adams using the bungee method to launch the Falcon Fixed Wing UAS
Dense point cloud data, generated in PhotoScan from the acquired imagery, overlaid on the mosaicked aerial photographs to create a natural color 3D model to show the ground disruptions caused by the earthquake

Points of Contact
Christopher DuRoss
Research Geologist
USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center
Golden, Colorado
Phone: 303-273-8544

National UAS Project Office
Phone: 303-236-1308