I have 20 rasters that cover the same geographic extent, are in the same projection, have the same cell size etc. Instead of a stack of rasters, I want a table where the columns are the different rasters and the rows are the pixels. I have tried multiple tools in ArcGIS, such as Extract Multi Values to Points and Sample, as well as using R. The issue is my rasters are very large, about 60 million pixels each. Those tools either don't work correctly and output incorrect values (Extract Multi Values to Points) or fail after a short time (Sample). I have tested them out with much smaller sub-samples (i.e. 100 points) and they work fine in that case. My R attempts have been met with errors due to lack of memory. Any tips or other ways I can approach this problem? I am willing to try different methods! I have read similar questions here and elsewhere in the past but it appears the large size of my dataset is leading to additional issues.

The goal is to have a table like this:

    • R1 - R2 - R3 etc.
  • P1
  • P2
  • P3 etc.

That I can bring into R and work with further.

EDIT: My R code... very simple at the moment (also down to 12 rasters).

Rasters <- stack(NDVI_C, Landcover, Elevation, Slope, Aspect, TPI, TWI, Lake_50, River_250, MajRiver, FTE, Precip, Temp)
d <- values(Rasters)
test <- values(NDVI_C)

A couple issues: memory and dealing with NA values. Want final table to only include pixel stacks that have no NA values (i.e. every Raster has a value for that pixel)

  • Library raster in R can read raster object without loading them into the memory. Because your rasters are big, you create a database on disk and fill it step by step while extracting raster values by blocks that can be handled in your memory with raster::getValuesBlock Commented May 2, 2017 at 17:24
  • @StatnMap okay thanks for the idea I will try to figure that out
    – user87619
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 19:26
  • To drop row NA's just use na.omit() or complete.cases() Commented May 2, 2017 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


This is, generally, a very bad idea and defeats the point of a raster format. There is very little in the way of software that can deal with a 60M x N dataset. With 20 parameters the number of observations grows to n=1,200,000,000. In statistical terms, you would be better served taking a sub-sampling approach or just leverage raster functions for your analysis.

To directly address your question it is easy to convert a raster stack to a data.frame object (in your terms, a table) that could be exported to whatever format you would like.

Here you can coerce a raster stack to a data.frame object. To write to a readable format for other software you can use write.table with sep="," if wanting csv output.

r <- stack(system.file("external/rlogo.grd", package="raster")) 

r.df <- as.data.frame(getValues(r)) 

If you need a memory safe approach to create an ASCII file you can use read the raster stack in blocks and the use write.table with the append = TRUE argument. If set up in a for loop you can literately stream data into an ASCII file.

b <- getValuesBlock(logo, row=35, nrows=3, col=50, ncols=3, lyrs=1:3)
write.csv(b, "raster.csv", col.names = TRUE, row.names = FALSE, append = TRUE)

A sampling approach can capture the sample variation and allow for statistical analysis without having to account for the entire population. Here is an example with the above data where we draw a n=1000 random sample and display the original and sample distributions.

r.df <- as.data.frame(getValues(r))
rs <- as.data.frame(sampleRandom(r, 1000))

  plot(density(r.df[,1]), main="Original distribution band 1")
  plot(density(rs[,1]), main="Sample distribution band 1")

  • if using the for loop, you'll need to use write.table instead of write.csv because write.csv does not support append=TRUE
    – webbe
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 19:10
  • 1
    @webbe thanks, made the change. What is annoying is that write.csv will take the append=TRUE argument without throwing a warning but, just does not actually append. So, very difficult error to track down when reading incorrect advice like I had posted. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:47

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