Historic Terrain Modeling

ECI utilizes industry standard 3D structure-from-motion software to generate geospatial datasets derived by historic air photos. This tool allows us to analyze terrain predating the development and impact of anthropogenic structures to the landscape in a GIS environment. We utilize this technology in a variety of projects including fault investigations, paleoseimic investigations, landslide investigations, terrain change and environmental analyses.

We generate geospatial data of historic aerial imagery in a multi-step procedure using AgiSoft™ 3D structure-from-motion software.
During the modeling process, historic air photos are being corrected for scale and topography by creating an orthoimage in a first step. Unlike an uncorrected image, an orthoimage is adjusted for relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt, and can be used to measure true distances and elevation. The resulting image is geometrically corrected such that the scale is uniform.


Load individual air photos
Create Tie Points and Calculate Image Locations
Create Dense Cloud and Geocode Spatial Data

Modeling Products

Digital Elevation Models
3D Terrain Models

Hydrologic Maps

Slope Maps

Case Study 1

Historic Terrain Model of the1953 Whitewater Creek Area, Coachella Valley, Riverside County, CA
12 historic aerial photos from the 1952 Whitewater Creek area were used to create a georeferenced orthoimage and digital elevation model to be compared with modern satellite imagery and elevation models. Comparing the newly generated 1953 dataset with modern imagery and elevation data allows detailed analysis of changes in the geomorphology, fluvial systems, vegetation, and infrastructure and the possible interaction between these surface parameters over time. Discover some of the terrestrial changes by scrolling through the image below:

Banning Fault


1953 Photomosaic

Banning Fault


2019 Google Earth

Case Study 2

Historic Terrain Model of the 1938 Northern Puente Hills Area, Los Angeles County, CA
The 1938 historic terrain model of the northern Puente Hills area of Los Angeles reveals the dramatic terrain change since the development of communities and industrial complexes within the past 81 years. The three dimensional terrain model below shows a very well pronounced topographic relief of the area. Just few roads and agricultural development reveals anthropogenic impact. Discover the dramatic changes since 1938 by scrolling through the image below:

Puente Hills, CA​


1938 Historic Terrain Model

Puente Hills, CA​​


2019 Google Earth