Create a LAS dataset

The LAS dataset is a stand-alone file that resides in a folder and references lidar data in the LAS format with optional surface constraint features that define surface characteristics. It can be quickly generated in ArcGIS Pro by using the Create LAS Dataset tool or using the LAS Dataset Properties pane from the Catalog pane. Using the Catalog pane will generate an empty LAS dataset. You will need use the LAS Dataset Properties dialog box to populate the LAS dataset.

Create a LAS dataset using the Create LAS Dataset geoprocessing tool

Follow these steps to generate a LAS dataset in ArcGIS Pro.

  1. On the Analysis tab, in the Geoprocessing group, click the Tools button. The Geoprocessing pane appears.
  2. Type Create LAS dataset in the search box, and press the Enter key to search for the tool.
  3. Double-click Create LAS Dataset to open the tool.
  4. Specify the Input Files.

    In the drop-down menu, choose either the File option and select one or more LAS files, or choose the Folder option and select one or more folders containing LAS files. Enable the Include Subfolders option if the specified folder contains subfolders with LAS files. You may also click and drag LAS files from the Catalog pane into the tool's parameter.

  5. Use the Output LAS Dataset option to set a location on disk where the LAS dataset will be created.
  6. Optionally, specify Surface Constraints if you want to apply feature-based surface definitions such as break lines or clip polygons.

    Surface constraints are features whose geometry capture or define the characteristics of the surface. Breaklines, water polygons, or area boundaries are all examples of surface constraints. Surface constraints can be feature classes or shapefiles. For each feature class, set properties that indicate how it is to be used to define the surface.

  7. Optionally, specify a Coordinate System for the LAS dataset.

    LAS files should contain spatial reference information. When a Coordinate System is specified in the tool's parameter, the LAS files are projected into the spatial reference designated for the LAS dataset. If a Coordinate System is not specified, the LAS dataset's spatial reference is set to the coordinate system associated with the first LAS file referenced by the LAS dataset. A LAS file that does not have a coordinate system definition displays in the LAS dataset's spatial reference. Optionally, an individual LAS file's spatial reference can be overwritten by creating a projection file (.prj) with the same name that resides in the same directory as the LAS file.

  8. Optionally, specify to Create PRJ For LAS Files for the LAS dataset.

    An individual LAS file's spatial reference can be overwritten by creating a projection file (.prj) with the same name that resides in the same directory as the LAS file.

  9. Check Compute Statistics.

    Compute Statistics create a LAS auxiliary file that contains the statistical information and spatial index for each LAS file. Creating the LAS auxiliary files (.lasx) improves the LAS dataset's overall performance. Exclude this calculation only if you need to utilize the LAS points as soon as possible. The process to generate LAS auxiliary files does not take long; however, certain situations require immediate access to the data (for example, emergency response applications). Along with improving overall performance, computing statistics for the LAS files increase the optimal file-size threshold for LAS files referenced by a LAS dataset from 200 MB to 500 MB.


    In ArcGIS Pro, statistics can be generated, but only viewed using an output text file from the LAS Dataset Statistics geoprocessing tool. The results can then be viewed in another spreadsheet or database program.

  10. Optionally, check Store Relative Paths.

    When using Store Relative Paths, you can relocate the LAS dataset and LAS files relative to one another in the file system. They must remain in the same relative directory path from one another. If relative paths are not stored, and the LAS dataset or LAS files are relocated, the LAS dataset will be broken and the LAS files will not be visible in ArcGIS.

  11. Click the Run button to execute the tool.

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