Archaeological Ground Point Filtering of Airborne Laser Scan Derived Point-Clouds in a Difficult Mediterranean Environment


Digital terrain models (DTM) based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) are an important source for identifying and monitoring archaeological sites and landscapes. However, a DTM is only one of many representations of a given surface. Its accuracy and quality must conform to its purpose and are a result of several considerations and decisions along the processing chain. One of the most important factors of ALS-based DTM generation is ground point filtering, i.e., the classification of the acquired point-cloud into terrain and off-terrain points. Filtering is not straightforward. The resulting DTM is usually a compromise that might show the surface below very dense vegetation while losing detail in other areas. In this paper, we show that in very complex situations (e.g., strongly varying vegetation cover), an optimal compromise is difficult to achieve, and more than one filter with different settings adapted to the varying degree of vegetation cover is necessary. For practical reasons, the results need to be combined into a single DTM. This is demonstrated using the case study of a Mediterranean landscape in Croatia, which consists of open areas (agricultural and grassland), olive plantations, as well as extremely dense and evergreen macchia vegetation. The results are the first step toward an adaptive ground point filtering strategy that might be useful far beyond the field of archaeology.

Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology
Michael Doneus
Michael Doneus
Key Researcher