I created a stream network from an existing DEM. My ultimate project goal is to be able to select a river from my stream network and use the 3D analyst to generate stream profile (Elevation by Distance).

The polylines I've created so far don't have M or Z values and I'm not sure how to add these. I have a DEM and I know I can add surface information which would add a z-max, z-min, and z-mean to the attribute table but that doesn't actually make it a polyline Z.

As of now to create a stream profile I only know how to use the 3D analyst by manually picking points/lines along the DEM. For my area this is very tedious and time consuming.

Any ideas?


1 Answer 1


you can create a M-aware route with create route in the linear referencing toolbox.

then you can build points along your line using a route event layer.

Finally, use the extract multi-value to point tools to have your elevations from the DEM. You can now build your profiles.

Also note that there is a tool in 3D analyst to build profile graph based on a line digitized i-on the screen (available in 3D analyst toolbar)

  • I'll try this ASAP and see how it goes. I have been using the 3D analyst tool bar to build profiles but I don't have time to digitize manually all of the streams I'd like profiled. Hopefully this will help with that! Question: Using create routes it asks for a coordinate priority, if my stream polylines are flowing from different directions is it possible to use this?
    – dcm630
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 20:55
  • if you don't use coordinate_priority, the digitising direction will prevail. note that you could use "two fields" to correct the direction if necessary (based on the height of the from and two points), but this is not necessary in your case (you can reorder after extracting the profile, much easier to)
    – radouxju
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 7:31

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