Calculation of the Spacing of Discontinuities from 3D Point Clouds

Andreas Anjan Buyer, Wulf Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The influence of discontinuities on the mechanical behavior of rock masses, demands a detailed knowledge about the geometrical properties of the existing discontinuity network. Traditional measurement techniques provide a rough knowledge about a discontinuity network but are also prone to bias. To increase the reliability of discontinuity models, remote sensing techniques like Close-Range Terrestrial Digital Photogrammetry (CRDTP) are increasingly applied for rock mass characterization. This research contributes to the trend of automatic rock mass characterization and focuses on the analysis of a digital surface model. This paper proposes a method to identify discontinuity sets in a point cloud and calculate the spacing of the sets. The discontinuity sets are semi-automatically identified with the open-source software DSE (Discontinuity Set Extractor). The program analyzes the density distribution of the point normal vectors in combination with a co-planarity test. The subsequent calculations apply DBSCAN to cluster and assign the points in the point cloud to singe discontinuity sets. After identifying the different discontinuity sets, the sub-members of each discontinuity set are again searched with DBSCAN in Matlab® (The Mathworks Inc.) and exported as a structure map to calculate the normal spacing between the single members of each set with ShapeMetriX3D Analyst. The point cloud is generated with CRTDP, using the digital mapping tool ShapeMetriX3D (3GSM GmbH), which is also used to validate the results of the calculations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-278
Number of pages8
JournalProcedia Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Event2017 ISRM European Rock Mechanics Symposium: Human activity in rock masses: EUROCK 2017 - Ostrava, Czech Republic
Duration: 20 Jun 201722 Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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