Remote Sensing Research Group

Southern Earth Observatory

Mapping fuel hazard in Chile


A group of academics and HDR students from Geospatial science recently returned from field work in Southern Chile, exploring the use of Fuels 3D techniques in Chilean forests.

This, RMIT – University of Chile, collaboration extends the Bushfire and Natural hazards CRC project Fuels 3D, led by Professor Jones and Dr. Reinke, into the international realm. The Fuels 3D project has mapped and characterized fire landscapes in S

Pre-fire point cloud

E Australia, with these techniques being actively trialed by several state fire authorities and land management agencies in Australia. Chile faces similar wildfire threats to Australia and these techniques are of great interest to Chilean forestry managers and fire authorities as they develop risk assessment and management plans for large fires.

Post-fire point cloud









The group used terrestrial and UAV (RPAS / drone) based photography to capture 3D point clouds of plantations and native forests in Southern Chile. These techniques, developed by research fellow Dr. Luke Wallace, allow the reconstruction of 3D point clouds that can be used to extract fuel and vegetation structural information. As part of the research, the integrity and completeness of the point clouds is validated through intensive and extensive physical measurements of the forest structure using laser scanners and sample transects.

The field team: Franco Magni (U-Chile), Sam Hillman (RMIT), Liliana Guzmán (U-Chile), Chris Bellman – Simon Jones – Bryan Hally – Daisy San Martin (all RMIT), Jaime Hernandez (U-Chile)

Whilst in Chile the group presented at an international seminar “Percepción remota en manejo de bosques, conservación biológica e incendios forestales” at the University of Chile.


Drone view from Estación Experimental Justo Pastor León, mega fire February 2017 destroying the town of Santa Olga


Field site Pa-1, pine plantation burnt in recent fires

Site Pa-3 (unburnt pine plantation)










Native forest site Fr-1. Up to 100 overlapping downward looking images captured from a drone, such as this over a Chilean Native forest, can be processed to generate key fuel hazard metrics such as canopy base height, canopy cover and tree height.



Vulcan Osorno lava field site (Os-2)



Vulcan Osorno with details to the field location




Vulcan Osorno lava field site (Os-2)
The lava flows can be accurately dated to 1835 as observed by Charles Darwin on the 2nd voyage of the Beagle


Further information:

Text by: Simon Jones

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