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Calculate Slope for a Site Suitability Model

I recently received a call from one of our Surfer users who was trying to create a site suitability model for a new manufacturing development. The user needed to find areas within the proposed site where the slope was under 10 degrees. The site suitability model required specific slope to be respected; the areas that were under the threshold criteria of 10% would be considered potential locations within the site to locate the new development.

A site suitability model can be easily developed in Surfer by creating a slope grid from a digital elevation model or DEM for the area, masking the slope grid to the site boundary, and creating a contour map that highlights the areas that meet the 10% or under criteria. Since this is such an interesting workflow, I thought it would be a great topic to blog about it so others in the Surfer community could benefit from seeing the approach.

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Create Aspect-Slope Maps in Seconds Using Surfer

My last blog article described how to create a slope map from a digital elevation model in Surfer. Moving forward on that topic, I found this blog article written for ArcMap on creating aspect-slope maps, which was improved upon for QGIS. This single map combines both the compass direction of slopes (aspect) and the steepness of the slopes (in degrees) and uses both color and saturation to display the combined results. Slopes facing different directions use different colors, and the brightness of that color shows the steepness of that slope (the brighter the color, the steeper the slope). I thought this was a really interesting map type and it made me wonder how this could be done in Surfer.

Coincidentally, at that time, a user asked me this exact question! The user wanted to come up with a way to see the very small slope variations in the soft sediments they have on the surface, using both aspect and slope. Looking at the slopes and aspect together may reveal small variations that otherwise could be overlooked.

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Creating Terrain Slope Maps from Digital Elevation Models in Surfer

Creating a map of slopes is common practice when looking at slope stability. Some examples of when you may want to create slope maps would be to identify areas with high slope to indicate avalanche or landslide danger. Another example may be to present slope maps of the seabed so that a structure with set tolerances for inclination could be located. Slope and gradient maps can be easily generated using Surfer.

Slope information can be easily computed from grid, raster or digital elevation models (DEMs) using options under the Grid | Calculus menu command in Surfer. The slope values can be expressed either in degrees or as a decimal (rise/run) which can then be computed as a percentage. For example, using Grid | Calculus you could select:

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