LiDAR drone surveys used to monitor SD coastal cliff slides

San Diego’s famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography is taking the lead in researching destructive and at times deadly coastal bluff slides in the area by upping its use of LiDAR-equipped drone surveys.

UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution described the program as an acceleration of existing research seeking to better understand coast cliff failures, and find ways to predict them. The extension of a previous project using drone- and truck- mounted LiDAR sensors to create 3D surveys was made possible by $2.5 million in funding passed earlier this month in San Diego’s AB 66 bill, which supports studies on bluff failures. The measure was largely motivated by the 2019 tragedy of three people being killed by a 30-by-25-foot sandstone chunk falling on them when a section of Encinitas cliff slid.

Largely, but not only. In addition to potential injuries or loss of life in future coastal collapses, the threat of cliff failures threatens buildings and vital…