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Creating a topo profile and blank cross section using ArcGIS

Creating a topo profile and blank cross section using ArcGIS (Video instructions)


Creating a topo profile and blank cross section using ArcGIS (text instructions)

Get the cross section template



About Luke

I am the Geology Department's Scientific Illustrator.

22 comments on “Creating a topo profile and blank cross section using ArcGIS

  1. Hello!

    I enjoyed watching your tutorial “Topo profile (cross section) in ArcGIS: How to make one.” on YouTube and would like to thank you for running this helpful website.
    I have an additional question: How can I set up a vertical exaggeration in my profile? Is it possible to adjust this in the layout view of ArcGIS?

    Thank you


    • Hi, if you want to do vertical exaggeration you should take the profile data and just plot it in another software (e.g. excel). The main reason I use ArcGIS is specifically because there is no vertical exaggeration.


    • The cross section template is actually just an empty map centered close to the origin. I’ve adjusted the data frame and the grid so that the labels are the way I want, but apart from that I haven’t done anything to it. It needs to have projected coordinate system chosen in order for it to work. Hope this helps.


  2. Luke,

    Great video! I am getting a “Connection Refused” whenever I try to download the cross section template. Could you email the mxd? Our firewall is probably denying my request. Thank you.

    Ron Pristas
    NJ Geological Survey


  3. Dear Luke, thousand thanks, very helpful video. GOD bless you. I have a question: I wish to compare two profiles (same area), but from two DEMs. I tried to convert the polyline (shape) to 3D Features (in 3D analyst), but it hasn’t height field. Thanks.


    • Hi, glad you found the video useful. I’m not sure what tool you are talking about with convert to 3D features. What you are describing can be achieved by running through my tutorial using your first DEM, then repeat using the same profile line but choosing the other DEM in 3D analyst. Another thing you could do is use Raster Calculator to compare the DEMs over the entire area (i.e. DEM1 – DEM2).

      Good luck!


  4. Hello, just wanted to say thanks for making such a useful tutorial available. This method is a drastic improvement over our previous workflow for creating cross sections!


  5. Hello, just wanted to say thanks for making such a useful tutorial available.
    Just one thing when I import the excel data its not come the like a graph, it comes like straight line
    Second the M values does not shows the distance in meter or kilometers.
    ones again thank you


    • Umm, not sure what is wrong. The first value is ‘M’ and the second value is ‘Z’. The ‘Z’ values are based on the underlying DEM you are using. I think the ‘M’ values are based on the data frame coordinate system. They might be based on the dataset coordinate system, in which case you can project the data to get it into the right format. Good luck!


  6. Hi, Thank you for the tutorial, but I can’t download the link for the cross-section can you email it to me?


    • Hello
      The link is still working. Are you able to try using a different web browser? For example Firefox or Chrome or Edge…


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