An overview of the Surface toolset

With the Surface tools, you can quantify and visualize a terrain landform.

Starting with a raster elevation surface as input, with these 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.

Each surface tool provides insight into a surface that can be used as an end in itself or as input into additional analysis.




Derives aspect from a raster surface. The aspect identifies the downslope direction of the maximum rate of change in value from each cell to its neighbors.


Creates a line feature class of contours (isolines) from a raster surface.

Contour List

Creates a feature class of selected contour values from a raster surface.

Contour with Barriers

Creates contours from a raster surface. The inclusion of barrier features will allow one to independently generate contours on either side of a barrier.


Calculates the curvature of a raster surface, optionally including profile and plan curvature.

Cut Fill

Calculates the volume change between two surfaces. This is typically used for cut and fill operations.


Creates a shaded relief from a surface raster by considering the illumination source angle and shadows.

Observer Points

Identifies which observer points are visible from each raster surface location.


Identifies the slope (gradient, or rate of maximum change in z-value) from each cell of a raster surface.


Determines the raster surface locations visible to a set of observer features.

Tools of the Surface toolset

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