Measuring Surface Roughness through the Use of Digital Photography and Image Processing

DOI: 10.4236/ijg.2014.55050   PDF   HTML     5,280 Downloads   7,109 Views   Citations


This paper aims to provide a quantitative method that employs image processing in the assessment of surface roughness based on digital photograph field surveys, as in previous studies employing the outdoor integrated digital photography and image processing (O-IDIP) method. Digital photographs were taken on two different days under contrasting outdoor lighting conditions (overcast versus clear sky). Images were captured mounted on a tripod close up to the surface of a 380-year-old wall located at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in the City of Oxford, UK. Sampling points were established at regular intervals along the border wall and encompassed sections facing west, north, and east, respectively along the survey. Two photographs were taken with a digital camera at each sampling point, one containing a color chart used to calibrate outdoor lighting conditions across images, which was excluded from the other photographic pair. Histogram-based quantification was performed based on images converted to Lab Color mode. The 10-step calibration procedure presented in this paper required more adjustments of contrast. However, more adjustments were not required under a clear sky. Std Dev L measurements were used to establish categories in a simple 3-point roughness index, namely the surface roughness index (SRI). The results denote that pitting did not affect surface roughness measurements. The study shows that it is possible to use Std Dev L measurements to quantify surface roughness on a comparative basis.

Share and Cite:

Thornbush, M. (2014) Measuring Surface Roughness through the Use of Digital Photography and Image Processing. International Journal of Geosciences, 5, 540-554. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2014.55050.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Stephenson, W.J. and Finlayson, B.L. (2009) Measuring Erosion with the Micro-Erosion Meter—Contributions to Understanding Landform Evolution. Earth-Science Reviews, 95, 53-62.
[2] Sharp, D., Trudgill, S.T., Crooke, R.U., Price, C.A., Crabtree, R.W., Pickles, A.M. and Smith, D. (1982) Weathering of the Balustrade on St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 7, 387-390.
[3] Trudgill, S.T., Gosling, W., Yates, T., Collier, P., Smith, D.I., Cooke, R.U., Viles, H.A., Inkpen, R. and Moses, C. (2001) Twenty-Year Weathering Remeasurements at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26, 1129-1142.
[4] Kamh, G.M.E. and Hanna, H. (2002) Measuring Rock Surface Roughness by Micro-Erosion Meter as Indication of Weathering Intensity of St. John Medieval Church, Chester City, UK. Egyptian Journal of Geology, 46, 461-469.
[5] Lopez-Arce, P., Varas-Muriel, M.J., FernAndez-Revuelta, B., Alvarez de Buergo, M., Fort, R. and Perez-Soba, C. (2010) Artificial Weathering of Spanish Granites Subjected to Salt Crystallization Tests: Surface Roughness Quantification. Catena, 83, 170-185.
[6] Jaynes, S.M. and Cooke, R.U. (1987) Stone Weathering in Southeast England. Atmospheric Environment, 21, 1601-1622.
[7] Gomez-Pujol, L., Fornos, J.J. and Swantesson, J.O.H. (2006) Rock Surface Millimetre-Scale Roughness and Weathering of Supratidal Mallorcan Carbonate Coasts (Balearic Islands). Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31, 1792-1801.
[8] Feng, Q.H. and Roshoff, K. (2004) In-Situ Mapping and Documentation of Rock Faces Using a Full Coverage 3D Laser Scanning Technique. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Science, 41, 1-6.
[9] Yang, Z.-Y., Taghichian, A. and Huang, G.-D. (2011) On the Applicability of Self-Affinity Concept in Scale of Three-Dimensional Rock Joints. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 48, 1173-1187.
[10] Ehlmann, B.L., Viles, V.A. and Bourke, M.C. (2008) Quantitative Morphologic Analysis of Boulder Shape and Surface Texture to Infer Environmental History: A Case Study of Rock Breakdown at the Ephrata Fan, Channeled Scabland, Washington. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, 1-20.
[11] Brouste, A., Renard, F., Gratier, J.-P. and Schmittbuhl, J. (2007) Variety of Stylolites’ Morphologies and Statistical Characterization of the Amount of Heterogeneities in the Rock. Journal of Structural Geology, 29, 422-434.
[12] Ben-Itzhak, L.L., Aharonov, E., Toussaint, R. and Sagy, A. (2012) Upper Bound on Stylolite Roughness as Indicator for Amount of Dissolution. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 337-338, 186-196.
[13] McCarroll, D. and Nesje, A. (1996) Rock Surface Roughness as an Indicator of Degree of Rock Surface Weathering. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 21, 963-977.<963::AID-ESP643>3.0.CO;2-J
[14] McCarroll, D. (1992) A New Instrument and Techniques for the Field Measurement of Rock Surface Roughness. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie, 36, 69-79.
[15] Whalley, W.B. and Rea, B.R. (1994) A Digital Surface-Roughness Meter. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 19, 809-814.
[16] McCarroll, D. (1997) A Template for Calculating Rock Surface Roughness. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 22, 1229-1230.<1229::AID-ESP837>3.0.CO;2-R
[17] Benavente, D., Martínez-Verdú, F., Bernabeu, A., Viqueira, V., Fort, R., García dela Cura, M.A., Illueca, C. and Ordonez, S. (2003) Influence of Surface Roughness on Color Changes in Building Stones. Color Research and Application, 28, 343-351.
[18] Thornbush, M. and Viles, H. (2004) Integrated Digital Photography and Image Processing for the Quantification of Colouration on Soiled Surfaces in Oxford, England. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 5, 285-290.
[19] Thornbush, M.J. and Viles, H.A. (2004) Surface Soiling Pattern Detected by Integrated Digital Photography and Image Processing of Exposed Limestone in Oxford, England. In: Saiz-Jimenez, C., Ed., Air Pollution and Cultural Heritage, A. A. Balkema Publishers, London, 221-224.
[20] Thornbush, M.J. and Viles, H.A. (2007) Photo-Based Decay Mapping of Replaced Stone Blocks on the Boundary Wall of Worcester College, Oxford. In: Prikryl, R. and Smith, B.J., Eds., Building Stone Decay: From Diagnosis to Conservation, Geological Society, London, 69-75.
[21] Thornbush, M.J. and Viles, H.A. (2008) Photographic Monitoring of Soiling and Decay of Roadside Walls in Oxford, England. Environmental Geology, 56, 777-787.
[22] Thornbush, M. (2008) Grayscale Calibration of Outdoor Photographic Surveys of Historical Stone Walls in Oxford, England. Color Research and Application, 33, 61-67.
[23] Thornbush, M.J. (2010) Measurements of Soiling and Colour Change Using Outdoor Rephotography and Image Processing in Adobe Photoshop along the Southern Facade of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In: Smith, B.J., Gomez-Heras, M., Viles, H.A. and Cassar, J., Eds., Limestone in the Built Environment: Present-Day Challenges for the Preservation of the Past, Geological Society, London, 231-236.
[24] Thornbush, M.J. (2013) Digital Photography Used to Quantify the Greening of North-Facing Walls along Broad Street in Central Oxford, UK/L’utilisation de la photographie numerique pour quantifier le verdissement de la facade septentrionale longeant Broad Street dans le centre d’Oxford, Royaume-Uni. Geomorphologie: Relief, Processus, Environment, 2, 111-118.
[25] Thornbush, M.J. (2013) Photogeomorphological Studies of Oxford Stone: A Review. Landform Analysis, 22, 111-116.
[26] Fischer, C. and Gaupp, R. (2004) Multi-Scale Rock Surface Area Quantification—A Systematic Method to Evaluate the Reactive Surface Area of Rocks. Chemie der Erde, 64, 241-256.
[27] Fischer, C. and Luttge, A. (2007) Converged Surface Roughness Parameters—A New Tool to Quantify Rock Surface Morphology and Reactivity Alteration. American Journal of Science, 307, 955-973.
[28] Fischer, C., Karius, V. and Luttge, A. (2009) Correlation between Sub-Micron Surface Roughness of Iron Oxide Encrustations and Trace Element Concentrations. Science of the Total Environment, 407, 4703-4710.
[29] Fischer, C., Michler, A., Darbha, G.K., Kanbach, M. and Schafer, T. (2012) Deposition of Mineral Colloids on Rough Rock Surfaces. American Journal of Science, 312, 885-906.
[30] Darbha, G.K., Fischer, C., Luetzenkirchen, J. and Schafer, T. (2012) Site-Specific Retention of Colloids at Rough Rock Surfaces. Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 9378-9387.
[31] Tatone, B.S.A. and Grasselli, G. (2013) An Investigation of Discontinuity Roughness Scale Dependency Using High-Resolution Surface Measurements. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 46, 657-681.
[32] Kulatilake, P.H.S.W., Balasingam, P., Park, J. and Morgan, R. (2006) Natural Rock Joint Roughness Quantification through Fractal Techniques. Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, 24, 1181-1202.
[33] McCarroll, D. (1991) The Schmidt Hammer, Weathering and Rock Surface Roughness. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 16, 477-480.
[34] Mottershead, D., Gorbushina, A., Lucas, G. and Wright, J. (2003) The Influence of Marine Salts, Aspect and Microbes in the Weathering of Sandstone in Two Historic Structures. Building and Environment, 38, 1193-1204.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.