LIDAR Data Yield Stunning Visual History Of Oregon’s Willamette River

By on December 9, 2015
A cartographer created a beautiful visual history of the Willamette River. (Credit: Daniel Coe)

A cartographer created a beautiful visual history of the Willamette River. (Credit: Daniel Coe)

Making the rounds on social media lately is a stunning visual representation of the changes that Oregon’s Willamette River has experienced throughout the past 15,000 years. But how did the maps come about in the first place?

According to Colossal, Daniel Coe, a cartographer, made the maps with help from historical images and LIDAR data collected by low- and slow-flying aircraft that shot millions of tiny laser points at the ground. Putting the images and data together, Coe stripped away buildings and other structures to show elevation and land features around the river.

From there, he used varying shades of blue to display the Willamette River’s 15,000-year history. The purest white is the baseline elevation, while shades of blue indicate how high up an area is. The darkest of blues corresponds to an elevation of 50 feet.

Top image: A cartographer created a beautiful visual history of the Willamette River. (Credit: Daniel Coe)

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