Data import and load tools for terrain datasets

Surface data comes in many formats. ArcGIS is capable of reading a wide variety, and terrain datasets can take advantage of this. ASCII-formatted points, lines, and polygons with z-values can be read. The lidar standard, LAS, is supported as well.

The following graphic shows the location of the ASCII 3D To Feature Class and LAS To Multipoint geoprocessing tools in the 3D Analyst toolbox. For more information on implementing these tools, see Importing terrain dataset source measurements.

Geoprocessing import tools for terrains
3D Analyst geoprocessing tools for loading measurements into feature classes. Terrains are built from the feature classes.

Lidar attributes in LAS files can be loaded along with the point geometry. The attribution is handled differently than you might expect because, for efficiency, lidar points are grouped into multipoints. Each multipoint stores many points using only one database row. Since there's only one row for many points, the attribution must be grouped in a similar way. Attributes are loaded into binary large objects (BLOBs), one BLOB per attribute per shape.

lidar attributes and multipoints
Points are loaded as multipoints for efficiency. LAS lidar attributes are recorded in BLOB fields.

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