Mt. Etna volcano high-resolution topography: airborne LiDAR modelling validated by GPS data

High-resolution digital topography is essential for land management and planning in any type of territory as well as the reproduction of the Earth surface in a geocoded digital format that allows several Digital Earth applications. In a volcanic environment, Digital Elevation Models are a valid reference for multi-temporal analyses aimed to observe frequent changes of a volcano edifice and for the relative detailed morphological and structural analyses. For the first time, a DTM (Digital Terrain Model) and a DSM (Digital Surface Model) covering the entire Mt. Etna volcano (Italy) derived from the same airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) are here presented. More than 250 million 3D LiDAR points have been processed to distinguish ground elements from natural and anthropic features. The end product is the highly accurate representation of Mt. Etna landscape (DSM) and ground topography (DTM) dated 2005. Both models have a high spatial resolution of 2 m and cover an area of 620 km2. The DTM has been validated by GPS ground control points. The vertical accuracy has been evaluated, resulting in a root-mean-square-error of ± 0.24 m. The DTM is available as electronic supplement and represents a valid support for various scientific studies.