I am using ArcMap 10.8.

What makes for a better cross-section a Digital elevation model or a hillshade?

I am using the cross-section to identify and analyze faults and fractures.so far I have tried creating a profile using a DEM with 3D analyst. In 3D analyst- I use interpolate lines to create lines and then create a graph.


1 Answer 1


If I understand you correctly, the DEM contains the values (elevation) that you want to use to create your cross sectional visualizations to show faults or fractures in the terrain. You may want to look into getting your hands on some LiDAR point clouds of the area, which can be used to extract the bare earth only and create a digital terrain model (DTM, excluding above-ground structures).

The hillshade layer doesn't show elevation, but rather uses the elevation data from the DEM and an assumed position of the sun to infer which areas will be shaded under some given circumstances. Unless you are concerned with the illumination of your fault lines by the sun, it is unlikely this will be useful to you.

  • Thank you for your advice! The DEM i am using was created from done data using structure from motion. It has a resolution of 4 inch/pixel. Is this good enough in your opinion? Jan 3, 2022 at 21:01
  • The resolution and accuracy you need are dependent on what the goals of your project are, so its hard to say. However, maintaining the balance between resolution and data volume is one of the classic conflicts in GIS, so its a good thing to think about!
    – Kartograaf
    Jan 3, 2022 at 23:27

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