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National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

A research and implementation partnership


Northern California LiDAR Hillshades in Google Earth

By downloading the file, 1-Meter Resolution Bare Earth Hillshades, and opening it in Google Earth, users are able to browse hillshades with two illumination angles (315 and 45 degrees) for faults in the northern San Andreas fault system.


  • The extent of the LiDAR data is shown by the cyan colored outlines.
  • The hillshades will load once the user has zoomed into an area of interest. If you are not seeing data, try zooming in a bit more.
  • Accessing the LiDAR data will require that you have a strong and consistent internet connection, and a reasonably modern computer.
  • The data will load rather slowly as it comes down from the GEON server, but once it is cached in Google Earth it will appear much faster upon returning to the same location.
  • Increasing the disk cache size in Google Earth to 2000MB is advised. This is done through: Tools > Options > Cache (tab).
  • The transparency of the LiDAR hillshades can be adjusted using the slider bar at the bottom of the PLACES menu in the left hand navigation bar.

The Google Earth file was created from the Northern California GeoEarthScope LiDAR topography dataset by J. Luke Blair, USGS Earthquake Hazards Program; and Chris Crosby, GEON Project, San Diego Supercomputer Center.

The GeoEarthScope Northern California LiDAR data were acquired as part of the EarthScope Facility project funded by NSF. In addition, the San Francisco Public Utility Commission, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and USGS Earthquake Program provided financial support for the LiDAR survey of the Hayward, San Andreas, and Calaveras Faults.

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