Before starting your work, it is key that you assess whether you need to clean your elevation terrain or not. Stockpile calculation and cut/fill maps are instances where the answer is clearly YES, but if your final deliverable is a line survey, then the answer is definitely NO.


The first step to helping you decide when to clean the terrain is to determine what deliverable you need to produce. If that final product requires initial elevation terrain cleaning, Virtual Surveyor provides you with a complete toolset. Depending on the use case and on the type of surveyed area, you use the tools that are relevant for removing surface items. Virtual Surveyor does not work with automatic DTM extraction


DeliverableClean Terrain?
Stockpile volume
Cut/fill map
Contour map
Q-Points surface
Wooded area surface
Surface (mine survey)
Lines survey


Cleaning Tools and When to Use Them

  • Stockpile Volume

On mining or crushing sites, stockpiles may be fed by crusher arms or conveyors. Machines and equipment items should not be included in the stockpile volume calculation. Before creating the reference surface and calculating a stockpile volume, it is necessary to remove the overhanging conveyor. The easiest way to remove it is to use the Remove Object tool to erase the conveyor in one click. For more complicated surface items that the Remove Object tool cannot detect, use the Replace terrain tool, which allows you to outline the entire object for removal.



  • Cut/Fill Map

Cut/fill maps are used to manage earthwork progress. Those kinds of maps are generated between two terrain states or between a terrain state and a design surface. In both cases, machines and other non-relevant objects must be removed to deliver an accurate cut/fill calculation. The easiest way to do it is to use the Remove Object tool to erase those items in one click. Otherwise, use the Replace terrain tool to outline the objects for removal.



  • Contour Map

Contour maps are commonly used by surveyors to illustrate terrain elevation. Contours need to symbolize the terrain and should not include tractors, machines, equipment, etc. Whether using the Contours Terrain Lens or creating a surface with contours styling, the first step is to clean the elevation terrain. Depending on the area and the type of items to be removed, all the cleaning tools may be used and combined. Please keep in mind that you can only export contour lines that are created from your Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) in Virtual Surveyor.



  • Surface with Q-Points.

This workflow is usually implemented in a large open area like an earthwork construction or mining site. To turn your elevation terrain into a lightweight TIN, you can generate an intelligent points grid and triangulate it. The Q-Points algorithm places points on the terrain where the elevation exceeds the desired Elasticity. Generally, it drops more points on large slopes or hills than it will on any flat surface depending on the elasticity settings you give the tool to work with. Vehicles, buildings, and trees will often be covered with points due to the effect of the elasticity settings of Q-Points that respond to objects on the terrain. If the goal of the survey is to measure ground elevation, it would be better to first clean the terrain before running the Q-Points tool.



  • Surface with Low-pass Points

This workflow is usually implemented in a large wooded area with an open canopy. To generate a lightweight TIN of the ground elevation, you have to remove all the vegetation. In this case, it's not required to clean the elevation terrain. Instead of doing that you can use the Low-pass Points tool and triangulate the resulting points grid to generate the surface.



  • Mine Surveying

You can quickly create a survey map of a mine or a quarry site if you use a rectangular or triangular points grid to triangulate the area and create a TIN. Then, you can add breaklines and manual points to add more detail and make the TIN a more accurate portrayal of the terrain. It is always good to erase points that were dropped onto items or areas (due to the grid pattern) that you do not want to include in the TIN.