Puget Sound LIDAR Consortium

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About the Puget Sound LIDAR Consortium

What we are

Contracting Through the PSLC

A selective history of LIDAR in the Puget Sound region

Status of public LIDAR surveys in western Washington

PSLC Documents

What we are

The Puget Sound LIDAR Consortium (PSLC) is an informal group of local agency staff and Federal research scientists devoted to developing public-domain high-resolution LIDAR topography and derivative products for the Puget Sound region. We came together in the fall of 1999, with initial participants from Kitsap County, Kitsap PUD, City of Seattle, Puget Sound Regional Council, NASA, and the USGS. We have since been joined by Clallam and Island counties. Although we have no rules or formal membership, we are able to work in concert. Our point of contact is Drew Hanson at the Puget Sound Regional Council.

In a legal sense, the PSLC is no more than a set of inter-agency purchase agreements that allow purchase of LIDAR surveying via a contract negotiated by Kitsap County.

The PSLC coalesced around the issue of earthquake hazards. While each jurisdiction has different reasons for funding LIDAR data acquisition, the Seattle fault affects all the original partners. The fault trends east-west across the Puget Lowland from Kitsap County through downtown Seattle to central King County. Ignorance of the history of the fault--how often it ruptures--currently contributes the most uncertainty to estimates of the earthquake hazard to the central Puget Sound region.The most direct route to reducing this uncertainty is to locate surface breaks that can be trenched for deposits that date fault activity. This focus and the ability of the USGS to work across local jurisdiction boundaries were key to building the PSLC.

We think our sucess (presuming we do succeed) largely stems from being a bunch of nice people. We also embody significant experience and skills pertinent to the task of obtaining public-domain LIDAR topography. Berghoff contracted for the Bainbridge LIDAR survey in 1996. Conradi was the surveyor for the firm that performed the Bainbridge Survey. Harding has been engaged in LIDAR research at NASA for several years, and has provided invaluable experience in contracting for LIDAR surveys. Berghoff, Conradi, and Harless are GIS (geographic information system) managers. Anderson and Haugerud are skilled GIS technicians. Mann is a marvel at public administration and contract management. Johnson's grant-writing skill and focus on the grant-funding ball are much appreciated. Weaver has much experience at nurturing coalitions to support public-service research. Haugerud, Johnson, and Harding bring geologic expertise that encourages close focus on topography. All of us are very aware of the multiple uses of these data and share a vision of regional coverage.

Our funding is from various sources. In 1999 the USGS received a 3-year, $300,000 NASA grant to acquire remote-sensing data for hazard mitigation. In 2000, 2001, and 2002 Kitsap County received USGS grants for LIDAR surveys. The City of Seattle, Puget Sound Regional Council, and Clallam and Island counties have contributed local funds. The salaries and expenses of PSLC participants have not been directly funded.

Contracting Through the PSLC

The PSLC has been acquiring lidar data for over a decade in the Pacific Northwest and therefore we are confident in providing contract administration and quality control of the data.  We have developed a set of technical specifications geared to achieve the best terrain models given our topography, vegetation and weather patterns. Our most recent vendor is Quantum Spatial Inc.  The contract went through a competitive bid process during the spring of 2012.  We carefully reviewed multiple proposals and then selected the top candidate.  All data acquired through the PSLC is placed in the public domain through this website.

Contact Andrew Norton for more information.

A selective history of Lidar in the Puget Sound region

1996 Kitsap Public Utility District contracts for a LIDAR survey of Bainbridge Island, a rapidly-developing suburb of Seattle that is entirely dependent on local ground water.
Dec. 1996 Airborne Laser Mapping, now defunct, surveys Bainbridge Island. Most work carried out after an unusual low-elevation snowfall removes last leaves from deciduous trees and flattens much of the underbrush. See paper by Harding and Berghoff for discussion of this survey.
late 1997  Greg Berghoff gives an image from the Bainbridge survey to Bob Bucknam (USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, Golden CO), who had been studying the 1,100-year-old uplifted beach on southern Bainbridge Island as evidence of recent activity on the Seattle fault.
Aug. 1998 With permission of the landowner, USGS Earthquake Hazards Program digs two backhoe trenches across the Toe Jam Hill scarp and confirms that the scarp was formed by Holocene (last 15,000 years) faulting.
Sept. 1998 Weaver and Haugerud show City of Seattle staff the Bainbridge Island LIDAR topography. City indicates desire to obtain similar data. 
Fall 1998 Weaver and UW Earth Sciences staff meet with Kitsap County elected officials. County indicates strong interest in LIDAR surveys
Oct. 1998 Eaglescan flies LIDAR survey of Snoqualmie valley for USGS National Mapping Division (NMD). Funding is in part from USGS Urban Hazards Initiative. Malfunction of inertial navigation unit renders about half of data worthless. 
Haugerud suggests to USGS-NMD that it utilize future Urban Hazards funding ($200K/yr) for LIDAR surveys in Puget Lowland. Suggestion not taken.
Haugerud approaches USGS Associate Chief Geologist for Science about LIDAR surveys.
Feb. 1999 USGS hosts small workshop of local jurisdictions along Seattle fault to discuss LIDAR data collection strategies. A short white paper is written with possible options for funding public-domain LIDAR.
Johnson, Harding, Weaver, and Wells submit proposal to NASA seeking funding to acquire LIDAR data for earthquake hazards investigations in the Puget Sound region.
April 1999 Kitsap County officials and USGS staff have separate meetings with Representative Norm Dicks. LIDAR needs are discussed and the idea of a pilot is suggested.
July 1999 Representatives from USGS, City of Seatlle, Kitsap County, PSRC, and Kitsap PUD meet with local congressional staffer to develop LIDAR pilot.
Aug. 1999 USGS Earthquake Hazards Program digs three more trenches across Toe Jam Hill scarp
NASA joins regional LIDAR discussions.
Sept. 1999 Eaglescan reflies bad part of  Snoqualmie valley survey during late summer, at request of USGS researchers who are interested in low-water exposures of Snoqualmie River channel. Survey images tops of cornfields. 
Oct. 1999  Puget Sound LIDAR Consortium coalesces, with agreement to survey to common standards and share data.
Nov. 1999 PSLC sends request for information to LIDAR contractors.
Dec. 1999 NASA grant awarded to Johnson and others. 
Jan. 2000 PSLC issues Request for Proposals for data collection in early 2000
Feb. 2000  PSLC signs contract with TerraPoint, LLC. First round of surveying (almost all of Kitsap Peninsula, most of Seattle) finished by early April.
July 2000 Aiju Ding, senior GIS analyst at TerraPoint, identifies east-west scarp near Waterman Point that may--or may not--indicate Holocene faulting.
Haugerud devises improved Virtual Deforestation (VDF) algorithm that is adopted by TerraPoint.
Sept. 2000 Harding identifies systematic errors during early 2000 TerraPoint survey flights. 
Oct. 2000 TerraPoint confirms that pulse detector malfunctioned during many of the early 2000 survey flights. TerraPoint makes plans to resurvey.
Feb. 2001 TerraPoint completes 2000 survey area (Kitsap Peninsula, Seattle, and east along I-90) and 2001 survey area: Whidbey Island, Camano Island, NE Jefferson County, and parts of lowland Clallam County. 
Haugerud submits surface map of Bainbridge Island, a geomorphic map based on Bainbridge LIDAR survey, for internal USGS review.
March 2001 Several local groups request $3M for LIDAR surveys as part of response to 28 Feb. 2001 Nisqually earthquake. Request comes to naught.
PSLC plans data acquisition for winter 2001-2002. 
April 2001 Tenix LADS Corp. acquires test patches of lidar near-shore bathymetry for PSLC. Areas surveyed are along Possession Sound, from Randall Point to Possession Point (Island County) and south of Mukilteo (Snohomish County.) 
June 2001 PSLC meets to review first bare-earth DEMs from data collected in early 2001. 
Aug. 2001 Trenching by USGS Earthquake Hazards program confirms that Waterman Point scarp is tectonic: a south-verging thrust, with bedrock overriding Holocene(?) soil.
TerraPoint delivers topography for Kitsap Peninsula, which appears to be in good shape except for one flight line. Haugerud identifies NE-trending Salmon Beach scarp south of Belfair. Again, it may--or may not--indicate Holocene faulting.
Dec. 2001 TerraPoint ships bare-earth models for parts of Clallam, Jefferson, Island counties. Island and Jefferson county data have insufficient sidelap between flight lines and TerraPoint makes plans to resurvey. 
From provisional bare-earth topography, Johnson and Haugerud identify three scarps of possible tectonic origin. 
Jan. 2002 Johnson, Harding, Haugerud, and others submit proposal to NASA to collect lidar data from selected high-relief areas in Cascade Mountains.
Feb. 2002 At the request of US Navy staff, PSLC disables Web access to lidar topography because of national-security concerns. With further discussion, it becomes clear that for these particular concerns PSLC lidar topography is not significantly more useful than other geospatial data that are widely available on the Web. PSLC agrees to institute guestbook to track downloads of geo-registered data.
March 2002
TerraPoint delivers first shipment of all LiDAR products for the winter 2001-2002 mission.  The rest of the shipments for this mission continued through November 2002.  This mission included Vashon Island, Thurston County, the lowland in Mason County, the peninsula area of Pierce County, the rest of the lowland in eastern Jefferson County, the Chehalis River in Grays Harbor County and the Dungeness River in Clallam County.  This data met contract specifications and was accepted.
Sept. 2002
TerraPoint delivers the reflown data for parts of Clallam, Jefferson, Island counties.   The data met contract specifications and was accepted.
March 2003
TerraPoint delivers data for the high-relief area West of Mt. Rainier.
May 2003
TerraPoint delivers all data products for the winter 2002-2003 mission.  This mission includes the northwest corner of Snohomish County and parts of Yakima and Lewis counties.  This data met contract specifications and was accepted.
Feb. 2004
PRISM contributes their web development expertice to activate a guestbook to track downloads of LiDAR geo-registered data.  The PSLC website is activated for data download once again.
TerraPoint delivers data products for Portland Oregon mission.  This data met contract specifications and was accepted.
TerraPoint delivers data products for the Pierce County Lowlands mission.  Data was delivered in stages through November.  This data met contract specifications and was accepted.

Data is delivered in small section for all of the 2005 projects in the North Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, Lewis County.
Data is delivered for the Lower Columbia River.
The PSLC sign a new contract with Watershed Sciences, LiDAR vendor.
Watershed Sciences delivers the first data acquired under the new contract.  The data is for Lewis County.  After this many subsequent datasets were delivered.  The data meets PSLC specs.
Nov 2006
A consortium is formed in Northwest Oregon\Portland Metro area to jointly collect and share over 1500 square miles of LiDAR data.  This project is going throughout the PSLC.  At the same time more data is collected in several river corridors in Eastern Washignton and Oregon.

Status of public lidar surveys in Washington

 To view the status of public domain data available through the PSLC log into out website and go to  PSLC Data.  To view datasets acquired by other agencies and made available through the PSLC also log in and go to Data from Other Agencies.

PSLC documents

Most Recent PSLC Contract with Quantum Spatial
Technical Specification   2012, PDF file

PSLC Contract with Quantum Spatial through June 2012
Final Contract   2006, PDF file
Contract Specification   2006, PDF file
PSLC Contract Documents for Data Collected between 2000 and 2005
Request for Proposals   January 2000, PDF file
Exhibit A, Scope of Work  January 2000, PDF file
Addendum to Request for Proposals   January 27, 2000, PDF file

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The little red icon at the top of your browser is provisional and may be replaced. It shows all of Washington because it looks better than Puget Sound. Red implies LiDAR, even though LiDAR mapping is actually done in the near infrared.

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