Photogrammetric Reconstruction of Rock Outcrops using Open Source Software

Philipp Danzl, Thomas Gamper, Qian Liu*, Daniel Scott Kieffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


The purpose of this research is to examine the suitability of digital photogrammetry for mapping and processing the 3D rock structure of hard rock outcrops using consumer-grade digital cameras and open source software.
For this purpose, the camera settings for photogrammetric image acquisition were first optimized, including camera positions and light paths to achieve sufficient overlapping and to minimize shadowing. The open source software VisualSFM was then used to conduct feature detection, match images, and determine the camera positions. The dense point cloud was constructed using open source algorithms based on the approaches of Patch-based Multi-View Stereo (PMVS) and Clustering Views for Multi-View Stereo (CMVS). The open source software SfM_georef was then used to merge point clouds of different outcrops into a common coordinate system. The accuracy of different smartphone apps for determining the coordinates of Ground Control Points (GCP) using Global Position System (GPS) was tested as an alternative to high accuracy Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS.
Rock structures were extracted from the point clouds using the open source software CloudCompare. The statistical computing of the set-based geometrical parameters of discontinuities was conducted in open source software environment R. The elaborated processing methods were tested for five outcrops having different rock types and structural fabrics. Discontinuity parameters estimated using the digital models are compared with traditional contact-based measurements. The results show that photogrammetric modelling and open source computing provides enormous cost, time and safety incentives in standard engineering practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISRM International Symposium - EUROCK 2020
Subtitle of host publicationHard Rock Excavation and Support
EditorsC.C. Li, H. Odegaard, A.H. Hoien, J. Macias
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-82-8208-072-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Event2020 ISRM International Symposium: EUROCK 2020 - Clarion Hotel & Congress, Trondheim, Virtual, Norway
Duration: 14 Jun 202019 Jun 2020


Conference2020 ISRM International Symposium
CityTrondheim, Virtual
Internet address


  • 3D rock structure
  • Digital images
  • Point cloud
  • Structure from motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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