The ability of laser scanners to rapidly provide structural data in
high inaccessible rock slopes has been frequently and correctly documented
as an important advantage of the technique. Researchers have also
shown the potential for characterizing varied rock mass characteristics
including discontinuity orientation, spacing, persistence and roughness.
In this paper, the authors, using laser scans of several rock slopes,
illustrate the limitations and bias in structural data collection
that must be allowed for. Orientation bias can occur both horizontally
(laser plan angle bias) and vertically (laser elevation bias). It
is suggested that the elevation angle of the laser scanner may produce
point clouds that, when processed to derive structural data, may
at best underestimate or even completely miss critical joint sets.
Censoring can result in underestimating discontinuity size. Limitations
related to rock mass reflectivity and textures are also highlighted.
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