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An overview of terrain datasets

Release 9.3
Last modified April 28, 2009
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If you have data sources such as stereo-captured photogrammetric features and mass point collections of 3D data such as lidar, sonar, and bathymetry, chances are that using terrain datasets in the geodatabase can help you better manage this information.

There is increasing use of lidar and other sensors for collecting high-resolution and massively large point datasets of elevation observations. Geodatabases are useful for managing these critical data assets as well as for integrating these and other data sources into integrated terrain datasets.

Many users want to

A terrain dataset is a TIN-based data structure with multiple levels of resolution. Terrains include pyramids that provide the appropriate levels of detail for use at multiple scales.

A terrain dataset is built from multiple data sources such as lidar mass point collections, 3D breaklines, and 3D-based survey observations. The data sources used to create terrain datasets are managed as a set of integrated feature classes in the geodatabase.

You can use the table below to find links to key information about ArcGIS support for terrain datasets including a number of common workflows for building and using terrains in ArcGIS.

Terrain dataset tasks
Tasks Links for more information
Designing a terrain dataset See Designing a terrain dataset.
Creating a set of feature classes within a common feature dataset in a geodatabase See Working with feature datasets.
Loading 3D data into feature classes See Data import and load tools for terrains.
Building a terrain dataset using ArcCatalog See Building a terrain dataset with the Terrain wizard.
Building a terrain dataset using geoprocessing tools See Building a terrain dataset with geoprocessing tools.
Drawing and displaying terrain datasets See Displaying terrain datasets.
Using terrain datasets in ArcGlobe and ArcScene See 3D Visualizing of a terrain dataset in ArcGIS.
Managing updates to terrain datasets and their feature class data sources See Updating and editing terrain datasets.
Managing terrains in a versioned geodatabase See Multiuser editing and versioning of terrain datasets.

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