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An overview of the Surface tools

Release 9.3
Last modified September 7, 2011
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With the Surface tools, you can gain information by producing a new dataset that identifies a specific pattern within an original dataset. You can derive patterns that were not readily apparent in the original surface, such as contours, angle of slope, steepest downslope direction (Aspect), shaded relief (Hillshade), and Viewshed.

Learn how to create contours

Learn how to calculate slope

Learn how to determine aspect

Learn how to produce a hillshade

Learn how to perform viewshed analysis

Learn about cut/fill volumetric analysis

Each Surface tool provides insight into a surface that can be used as an end in itself or as input into additional analysis. The following table lists the available Surface tools, provides a brief description of each, and identifies if the tool works in ArcToolbox, Map Algebra, or ArcObjects.

Tool Description ArcToolbox Map Algebra ArcObjects
Aspect Identifies the direction of maximum rate of change in z-value from each cell. X X X
Contour Creates a line featureclass of contours (isolines) from a surface raster. X X X
Contour List Creates a line featureclass of selected contour values from a surface raster. X
Contour with Barriers Creates a line feature class of contours (isolines) from a raster surface, and allows the inclusion of barrier features. X

ContourAsPolyline Creates a polyline of the contour (isoline) that passes through a specified location. The contour is derived from an input surface raster.

ContoursAsPolylines Creates a GeometryCollection of contours (isolines) that pass through specified locations. The contours are derived from an input surface raster.

Curvature Calculates the curvature of a surface at each cell center. X X X
Cut/Fill Calculates the volume change between two surfaces. X
Hillshade Creates a shaded relief raster from a surface raster by considering the illumination angle and shadows. X X X
Observer Points Identifies which observer points are visible from each raster surface location. X

Slope Identifies the rate of maximum change in z-value from each cell. X X X
Viewshed Determines the raster surface locations visible to a set of observer features. X

Visibility Performs visibility analysis on a raster surface by determining how many observation points can be seen from each cell location of the input raster or which cell locations can be seen by each observation point.

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