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Department of Earth Sciences

Established in 2006, Durham Terrestrial Laser Scanning facility (DuTLS) is an established centre of excellence for Earth Sciences applications of terrestrial laser-scanning.

Spearheaded by the Department of Earth Sciences in collaboration with University spin-out company Geospatial Research Ltd, the facility underpins fundamental research into the use and application of laser scanning technologies in the Earth Sciences. DuTLS staff members possess a high-degree of expertise founded on well-developed collaborative partnerships with laser scanning and survey companies, industrial users and other academic groups.

Currently the facility comprises 2 scanners :-

A RIEGL LMS 420i - consist of a high performance long-range pulsed 3D scanner, associated operating and processing software, and a calibrated and definitively orientated high resolution digital camera.

A LEICA C10 Scanstation - a pulsed, dual-axis compensated, very high speed laser scanner, with survey-grade accuracy, range, and field of-view; integrated camera and laser plummet. It has Onboard control an integrated hard drive for storage and an integrated high-resolution digital camera with zoom video

DuTLS has Trimble 5700 and 5800 Dual frequency GPS capable of real time kinematic acquisition, Ashtech Promark 2 & 3 survey GPS receivers and assorted GPS, handheld and tablet PCs that can be used for Digital field Mapping.


Director: Prof. Ken McCaffrey

Professor in Earth Sciences

Ken's main research interests lie the study of the architecture and evolution of mountain belts and margins with particular emphasis on the role of basement inheritance. He also investigates the geometrical complexity and temporal evolution of tectonic systems. This work is underpinned by geospatial modelling methods including GIS-based structural analysis and new Digital fieldwork technologies including high spatial resolution laser scanning and 3D visualisation methods. He is Director of the Centre for Research into Earth Energy systems and the Durham Terrestrial Laser scanning facility, which is equipped with Riegl and Leica laser scanners, Trimble dual frequency GPS receivers and assorted digital mapping gear.

Dr Richard Jones

Research Associate

Managing Director of Geospatial Research Ltd

Richard has developed Geospatial Research Ltd. (GRL) - a spin-out company within the University environment, with a mandate to commercialise innovative methods of acquisition, visualisation and analysis of geospatial data acquired by digital geological mapping and survey. GRL is a vehicle for bilateral Knowledge Transfer between academia and industry and promotes inter-disciplinary research.



Wilkinson, M., McCaffrey, K.J.W., Roberts, G.P., Cowie, P.A., Phillips, R.J., Michetti, A.M., Vittori, Guerrieri, E.L., Blumetti, A.M., Bubeck, A., Yates, A. Sileo, G. 2010. Postseismic deformation from the 6th April 2009 L'Aquila earthquake (Mw 6.3) surface rupture captured in 4D using a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS). Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L10309

Pearce, M.A, Smith, S.A.F, Jones, R.R. & McCaffrey, K.J.W. 2011. Quantification of curvature and fracturing using Terestrial Laser Scanning. AAPG Bulletin. 95, 771-794

Jones, R.R., Pringle, J.R., McCaffrey, K.J.W., Imber, J., Wightman, R.H., Guo, J. Long, J.L. 2011. Extending digital outcrop geology into the subsurface. In 'Outcrops Revitalized: Tools, Techniques and Applications' SEPM Special Publication No. 00, Copyright © 2010 LINK

McCaffrey, K.J.W., Hodgetts, D., Howell, J., Hunt, D., Imber, J., Jones, R.R., Tomasso, M. Thurmond, J., & Viseur, S. 2010. Virtual fieldtrips for petroleum geoscientists. In: Vining, B.A., Pickering, S.C. (eds) Petroleum Geology: From Mature Basins to New Frontiers - Proceedings of the 7th Petroleum Geology Conference, 19-26.

Jones, R.R., Kokkalas S, McCaffrey K.J.W. 2009. Quantitative analysis and visualization of nonplanar fault surfaces using terrestrial laser scanning (LIDAR)- The Arkitsa fault, central Greece, as a case study GEOSPHERE, 5, 465-482

Research Projects


- NERC Standard Grant NE/I026715/1 worth £888,984 (2012-2015): "Earthquake hazard from 36-Cl exposure dating of elapsed time and Coulomb stress transfer". PI: Dr. Ken McCaffrey, [Joint award with Gerald Roberts, (UCL), Richard Phillips, (Leeds) & John McCloskey (Ulster)]

When an earthquake ruptures an active fault, stress is transferred onto neighbouring active faults and may cause it to rupture in a subsequent earthquake. However, earthquakes will only trigger subsequent earthquakes if the neighbouring fault(s) are already close to failure due to long-term loading from motions in the crust or between plates. Identification of such faults by laser scanning and knowledge of the fault loading history from cosmogenic dating and Coulomb stress modelling will be developed to inform local populations and civil protection agencies in advance of a future earthquake allowing location-prioritised mitigation efforts.

- 3-D fracture systems in mixed volcanic and sedimentary sequences: Implications for petroleum potential in the West of Shetland province. PhD project funding for Bansri Raithatha. £90K awarded by OMV UK Ltd as part of Volcanic Margins Consortium.

Appleby Virtual Outcrop

Appleby Virtual Outcrop

Lecia C10 Trimble 5800 dual frequency GPS