3D Mapping and Visualization of Sediment Deposition at Culverts using UAV-based Photogrammetry and GIS

Authors: Haowen Xu*, , Marian Muste, The University of Iowa
Topics: Environmental Science, UAS / UAV, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: sedimentation, topographic survey, GIS, UAV-based photogrammetry, 3D terrain visualization
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Sediment deposition at multi-barrel culverts is a universal maintenance and design issue across many erosion-prone watersheds in the midwestern US, leading to the immediate impairment of the culvert capacity for conveying design flows and further damages to both the transportation infrastructure and upstream landscape during flood events. For the mitigation of culvert sedimentation through structural retrofitting and innovative self-cleaning culvert geometry, a reliable surveying technique for monitoring, mapping, and visualization of the sediment deposits (e.g., its volume and morphodynamics) at culverts is urgently needed. This paper presents a synchronized and reproducible workflow that combines UAV-based photogrammetry and topographic survey with GIS-based 3D terrain reconstruction and visualization technologies to enable high-resolution mapping and volumetric estimation of sediment deposits at multi-barrel culverts. The result of the photogrammetric survey is validated using a topographic survey conducted using Real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS. The surveyed results are later visualized as 3D objects in a web-based spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) using WebGL and Leaflet map engine. We present a case study that applies the method to monitor the sediment behaviors at three multi-barrel culverts, including two self-cleaning culverts (with upstream fillet and downstream weir, respectively), in the Willow Creek watershed near Iowa City, Iowa. We compare the positional and volumetric changes of sediment deposits at different culverts over a 2-year period based on the surveying outputs and visualization.

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