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LiDAR Survey and Bathymetric Mapping

Western Australia now has a complete high-resolution bathymetric and terrestrial coastal survey for more than 700 kilometres of coastline – from Cape Naturaliste in the south to Horrocks in the north. The baseline information will be used to inform decision-making on the coast and ensure better management of coastal resources.

Data for the survey was collected using LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology, which involved aircraft-borne remote sensing technology rapidly transmitting pulses of light that reflect off the underwater terrain and other marine features along the coastline.

The State Government commissioned new high-resolution bathymetric data for 400 kilometres of coastline between Hillarys and Horrocks; and around the Abrolhos Islands and five inland waterways in the southwest (Peel Inlet, Harvey Estuary, Leschenault Estuary, Hardy Inlet and Wilson Inlet). Fugro LADS Corporation undertook the imaging survey between March and May 2016.

The resulting maps show incredible three-dimensional features of the State’s underwater coastal terrain.

The LiDAR imagery has revealed new features of our underwater coastal terrain such as a ledge offshore from Quinns and a reef system offshore from Cervantes which until now have gone undetected and not shown on navigational charts. This new information will be invaluable for recreational and commercial boating and fishing safety. A natural harbour system has been discovered offshore from Dongara and ancient offshore sand dune systems have been located, such as an ancient rivermouth system near Capel, south of Bunbury.

Sample images are provided below.

The data is available online in GeoPDF format, which can be viewed in Adobe Reader, on the Department of Transport website.

Data from a similar survey undertaken in 2009 for 300 kilometres of coastline between Two Rocks and Cape Naturaliste has been widely used, including by Geoscience Australia as a baseline for storm surge and inundation modelling for Bunbury and Busselton. It also added high-resolution detail to the Federal Government’s National Coastal Risk Assessment to identify coastal environments, communities and infrastructure at risk from impacts of climate change. The 2009 survey data is available through Landgate’s SLIP portal.

The complete LiDAR data will continue to be used for a range of purposes across Western Australia, including:

  • defining the general shape of the seabed and determining the broad classification of seabed materials and benthic habitat
  • analysing the impacts of sea level rise, storm surge and inundation on coastal assets, infrastructure, public safety and the environment
  • informing the appropriate location of future development and placement of coastal infrastructure
  • providing baseline information to model coastal processes and assist in coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning as required by State Planning Policy 2.6 State Coastal Planning Policy
  • modelling flooding, groundwater, surface water, tsunamis and storm events
  • informing the development of regional and local coastal plans
  • identifying areas potentially at risk from storm surge, inundation, erosion and high winds
  • identifying areas where physical protection measures are required to protect assets and people
  • identifying areas yet to be developed where land use planning changes will be required
  • providing a basis for contingency planning and managing natural disasters
  • preparing marine plans
  • creating digital elevation models.

The bathymetric LiDAR also complements land-based LiDAR surveys commissioned by the Department of Water, which have supported digital terrain modelling to determine patterns of flooding, groundwater/surface water interaction and ecological systems. For more information on these land-based surveys visit the Department of Water website or email

Sample images

The below maps are examples of the type of bathymetric mapping that can be produced using data collected from the LiDAR survey.