Extraction of three-dimensional fracture trace maps from calibrated image sequences

Thomas Seers, David Hodgetts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


The routine application of digital survey technologies such as terrestrial lidar and photogrammetry to the characterization of fault and fractures in outcrop over the past decade has resulted in major advances in terms of the efficiency of discontinuity data acquisition. However, the reliance upon meshand point-cloud-based analysis approaches means that data sets obtained from these sources commonly offer heavily abstracted views of the measured fracture network due to the limited resolution of the input model. Here, we present an alternative approach that combines conventional two-dimensional (2D) image analysis with ray-tracing techniques to extract three-dimensional (3D) fracture trace maps from photogrammetrically calibrated image sequences. These 3D trace objects may be interrogated to obtain fracture network properties (trace length, intensity, and connectivity), with probabilistic methods used to estimate fracture orientation for high collinearity traces. Our approach possesses a number of advantages over existing digital surface reconstruction-based methods, with the use of a 2D pixel-based approach allowing established image-processing routines (e.g., edge detection/ connected components analysis) to be applied to the characterization of fracture and fault properties. Moreover, the innately high resolution of the input images results in practically lossless 3D fracture trace representation, limiting truncation effects. As a result, the method is capable of resolving local variability in higher-order fracture properties such as fracture intensity, which are difficult to derive using existing approaches. We demonstrate the approach on pervasively faulted Permian age exposures of the Vale of Eden Basin, UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1340
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy

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