I am upgrading from ArcView 3.1 to ArcMap 10.1. I have multiple LIDAR (bare earth) .txt files (x,y,z) that I would like to use to create a "TIN" (or is it Terrain Dataset in 10.1) and then contours?

I am unable to figure out how to do this in 10.1 and I have googled and read just about everything.

It was easy in ArcView 3.1 even though it had limitations (just a few steps). I have the full licensed 10.1 with all the 3D Analyst and variable extensions.

Can anyone point me in the right direction as I am currently working on a project?

  • For LiDAR you will need to use a terrain dataset which is designed to hold a very large amount of data. Once you've created a terrain dataset, convert XYZ files to points and load them into the dataset. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 20:13

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If you are open to installing a fairly standard, free, standalone set of LiDAR tools, look into FUSION (software here, manual here). XYZ2DTM tool will convert the .xyz to PLANS DTM format, then DTM2ASCII tool will convert the dtm to an ArcGIS-readable format. Then convert to TIN or contour as you choose.

edit: it looks like ArcGIS' ASCII 3D To Feature Class (3D Analyst) may also give you the result you're after.

  • I can't say with any certainty. If it is a .txt file in .xyz format, I expect you can simply change the file extension to .xyz, but it will depend on the file.
    – phloem
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 19:16

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