Is there any way to get an accurate, high definition, color topographical map as an overlay in Google Earth? It would be somewhat similar to this image captured by NASA of the surface of the moon image captured by NASA

Except as an overlay and of the Earth of course. I am looking for a way to possibly generate that map from the 3d model of the earth that Google provides as I only need it for a small area and it needs to be high accuracy.

1 Answer 1


There are variety of ways to get your data in the Google Earth (GE). The image you have shown is actually 'byproduct' of Digital Elevation Model or DEM where changes in elevation are presented in multiple colours. Simultaneously, the hillshade effect (Shaded relief) within this image facilitates interpretation of topographic variations within the area.

In GIS environment, all you need is to get Digital Elevation Model with desired accuracy and resolution.

If you are using ArcMap, you may follow these simple steps to achieve your objective;

Step 1: Insert your DEM in ArcMap and enable 'image Analysis' window as shown below,

enter image description here

Step 2: Select your DEM and Click on 'Shaded Relief' button available within Image Analysis window; you may change the colour ramp and redefine other parameters as well; The resultant product should be automatically added into the ArcMap and look like this;

enter image description here

Step 3: Now, We are ready to export this image/layer to GE in the file format compatible with it. You need to open 'Search' window and look for 'Layer to Kml' tool;

enter image description here

You should designate output Shaded Relief layer as input in the dialogue box and set other parameters, especially, the 'Output image properties' to get better results and then define Output path/name to export it; you can Open exported file in Google Earth, thereafter.

enter image description here

I hope this works for you.

  • The thing is I only need a small area and it has to be with more or less High accuracy but I could not find any with that kind of accuracy. However, Google has High accuracy 3d Models. Do you know if there is any way to generate it from the 3d models that google provides?
    – Ben
    Aug 27, 2018 at 12:09
  • 1
    GE does not provides high level of accuracy both in terms of horizontal and vertical spacing. If you are working on small area, you have to manage high resolution DEM that can be either derived from LiDAR point cloud or can be generated from high resolution Stereo aerial imagery. However, it is nice to have a look on Wikipedia article on DEM for better understanding of underlying sources en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_elevation_model
    – Dave
    Aug 28, 2018 at 3:10

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