I have a very large raster layer and with the values for noise emission. I'd like to extract all cells which are above a certain threshold value (e.g. 50 db) and convert them to an ESRI Shapefile so that I can intersect then with a line shapefile at the next step. The files should be as small as possible. My TIF file is 600MB.

I'd prefer to solve the issue using R.

  • I have been primarily working with the raster and ```sf```` libraries in R. I am however open to work with the other two:)
    – Yves
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:22
  • Does the raster actually contain the dB values, or is there a colour code in place? It'd be easier to provide an answer if you decided which software you'll be using.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:26
  • @Erik the raster values are the dB values. My prefered method is R.
    – Yves
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:31
  • Then please edit your question accordingly, thank you.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:32
  • I think it would be much quicker to extract the values from your TIFF directly using your shapefiles and then out everything below 50db. Converting a raster to a shapefile is very slow and you are bound to get an absolutely enormous file
    – JonasV
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


As previously commented, you may accomplish all your task using R exclusively; in the following code, a raster is created and then filtered to values above the threshold, all other values will become NA, then the pixels are masked to the lines. Raster works now in recent versions with both sf and sp objects, the code uses the latter kind.


r <- raster(ncol = 36, nrow = 18, vals = runif(648, min = 0, max = 70))
cds1 <- rbind(c(-50,0), c(0,60), c(40,5), c(15,-45), c(-10,-25))
cds2 <- rbind(c(80,20), c(140,60), c(160,0), c(140,-55))
lines <- spLines(cds1, cds2)

par(mfrow = c(1,3))
plot(r, main = "Original raster")
# to filter out values < 60
r[r[] < 50 ] = NA # check the use of braces to acces values of the raster
plot(r, zlim = c(0,70), main = "Filtered raster")

# to get the values of pixels that touch the lines
extract(r, lines)

# to filter the rasters to the lines
rf = mask(r, lines) 
plot(rf, main = "Extracted to lines")
plot(lines, add = T)

enter image description here


The following solution assumes that you have a GeoTiff with raster values, which you want to filter based on a threshold (e.g. 50) and convert the resulting pixels to an ESRI Shapefile for later use.

##load libraries

#read in raster
inputimage <- raster('input_raster.tif')

##check the image in R 

enter image description here

##mask the image (two steps)
tmpfilter <- inputimage < 50
filtered_image <- mask(inputimage, tmpfilter, maskvalue=1)

##check the filtered image 

enter image description here

##convert the output to a SpatialPointsDataFrame
p <- rasterToPoints(filtered_image)

##write the output to an ESRI Shapefile (writeOGR)
writeOGR(p, 'filtered_points.shp', driver='ESRI Shapefile', layer='filtered_points')

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