Skeletonizing a DEM into a drainage network

Amnon Meisels, Sonia Raizman, Arnon Karnieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


A new method for extracting drainage systems from Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) is presented. The main algorithm of the proposed method performs a skeletonization process of the set of elevations in the DEM and produces a skeleton of flow paths. An enumeration algorithm performs the removal of loops from the initial flow path. A preprocess for filling depressions is described as is the necessary postprocessing for determining the drainage network through depressions. The new method does not suffer from any of the maladies of former methods described in the literature, such as flow cutoffs, loops of flow, and basin flooding. The new method is tested on several real-world DEMs and produced connected, complete, and loopless networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalComputers and Geosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Depressions
  • Digital Elevation Model
  • Enumeration algorithm
  • Flow paths
  • Hydrology


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