Coltop3D is a full featured software for the structural geological analyses of 3D point clouds. It is designed for the interactive analysis of geological structures from high resolution LiDAR or photogrammetric 3D point clouds and digital elevation models at local and regional scale. The software is capable of many applications and is optimized for data visualization and structural analysis in different domains:

  • Structural geology
  • Natural hazards
  • Quarries and civil engineering


Input Data

Coltop3D can import LIDAR and photogrammetry point clouds and Digital Elevation Models. The software computes for each point an estimation of its orientation.

Structural Analysis

Coltop3D is a powerful tool for extracting and highlighting structural features, thanks to its unique selection tool. Selected data can be shown on Stereonet plots and basics statistics are computed.

Stereoplot Formatting

Future versions will provide a full package for stereoplot formatting.

Data Visualization

Coltop3D provides many types of coloring schemes, notably its outstanding combination of a Stereonet plot and a computer graphics Hue-Saturation-Luminosity wheel. Hence, any Dip/Dip direction is mapped to a unique color. Structural features (joints, faults, folds) are easily detected.

Data Exporting

Coltop3D provides an easy mechanism for exporting data to third party software. Data format can be completely customized by the user.

Case Studies

Coltop3D can be used to assess structural settings in different contexts:

Structural Geology at Regional Scales

Coltop3D view of the Mount Saint Helens (USA) acquired by an aerial LiDAR: at least three main slope orientations are visible in the area (the green, red and yellow ones). Moreover, Coltop3D provides several types of point cloud representations, according to slopes dip/dip direction, elevation, and sun’s shading.

Natural Hazards

Potential unstable block above vineyards and roads (delimited by the orange lines on the photo): the suspected back sliding surface is probably due to the dip slope situation (yellow discontinuities on the Coltop3D image) that has an orientation of 186°/75°. Even measured displacement rates (here over 2 years) can be visualized in Coltop3D thanks to the new scalar field option added in the importation module.

Quarries and Civil Engineering at Local Scales

In redesigned slopes, such as in quarries, open pit, galeries, tunnel’s portals or along corridors, reliable structural models are required for slope stability assessments. Here you have a LiDAR- and Coltop3D- based case study on a Swiss portal tunnel along a mountain road endangered by frequent rockfall events: the mean orientation of the overhanging discontinuity (in cyan in the Coltop3D image), i.e. dip direction/dip, is 008°/66°.

Sample Dataset

Once logged in the "Download" area, Terranum offers to professionals a free Coltop3D dataset sample. In this way, Coltop3D end users can test the powerful utility of the software on a real example.

Railway bridge in the Swiss Alps

This selected case study relates to structural analysis identifying the main discontinuities which produce rockfalls above a railway bridge in the Swiss Alps. Four major discontinuities can be identified on this point cloud:

– The topography (in blue) 330°/43°
– The overhang (in yellow) 144°/53°
– J1 (in purple) 279°/70°
– J2 (in cyan) 028°/72°


Terranum offers special conditions for academic institutions. Program participants must agree to provide a secure environment for Coltop3D software and to only use the software for educational and research purposes.

In order to determine your eligibility for the Academic version of Coltop3D, please fill out our Information Form bellow. We will contact you with more information about pricing and registration.

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Jaboyedoff M, Metzger R, Oppikofer T, Couture R, Derron M-H, Locat J and Turmel D: New insight techniques to analyze rock-slope relief using DEM and 3D-imaging cloud points: COLTOP-3D software. In: Rock mechanics: Meeting Society’s Challenges and demands (Vol. 1). Eberhardt E., Stead D. and Morrison T. (Eds.), Taylor & Francis, 61-68, 2007, DOI:10.1201/NOE0415444019-c8

Release Notes

1.8.4 (17.06.2013)

Bug correction

Mainly display bug corrections introduced in correction mode.

1.8.3 (27.12.2012)

Scalar field

Coltop3D can now import scalar fields, such as error or displacement values assigned to each point.

Fast importation

Importation is now optimized, thanks to a much faster normal computation algorithm. Huge data sets are imported in minutes instead of hours.

1.8.2 (12.11.2012)

Bug correction

Mainly bug corrections introduced by the new file format for point clouds.

1.8.1 (09.11.2012)

Bug correction

Mainly bug corrections introduced by the new file format for point clouds.

1.8.0 (05.11.2012)

New file format

Coltop3D use a new file format for point clouds, which leads to a very efficient memory management and point access to disk. The total number of points Coltop3D can handle is virtually unlimited.

1.6.3 (15.05.2012)

Bug correction

Mainly Bug corrections.

1.6.2 (09.05.2012)


GUI Enhancement and mainly bug corrections.

1.6.0 (11.08.2011)

First release

End of beta version, first commercial release.


Rotary rockslide

3D modelling, structural, geological cross-section and pre-failure stage monitoring of the Rotary rockslide in Fribourg city

2016 | Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland

Integration of GB-InSAR and TLS in Åknes

Integration of a visualization module for terrestrial radar data wrapped on LiDAR point cloud in Coltop3D for the major Åknes rockslide

2013 | Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap, Norway

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