# 3D Surface Plot With Only Vectors

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Dan on 18 Aug 2011
Commented: Image Analyst on 4 Sep 2021
I'm trying to make surface plots based on data from a satellite. All of the standard surface functions ('surface', 'contour', 'pcolor', etc.) require one of the fields to be a matrix, but the data I'm trying to plot is all in vectors. For instance, I have vectors for latitude and longitude of each reading, then a vector of the elevation read at each point. And the vectors are of considerable length, so I'm trying to use as little memory as possible for each plot.
'plot3(Lon, Lat, Elev)' almost gives me what I need, except I still can't put a detailed colormap to the elevation data. Ideally, I want to be able to look at the x-y plane and easily see the changes in elevation with the help of the colorbar.
Any ideas on a better function to use? Or is there a way to somehow get my elevation data into a matrix that doesn't give me a large, sparse matrix?
Thanks
Youssef Wehbe on 1 Apr 2020
I have an aircraft dataset and would like to plot a 3D flight track (lat,lon,elev) and color the markers according to a depth (dust concentration in my case). Any help is greatly appreciated!

Babak Salarieh on 2 Jan 2019
Edited: Image Analyst on 4 Sep 2021
I would suggest watching this video:
Although it is in regard to 3D surface, it works for the case of contours as well.
Image Analyst on 4 Sep 2021
@Majid when @Babak Salarieh inserted the link, he had #null for the URL and the URL for this thread as the displayed text, so it just went to this page. I changed the URL to that of the blog, so it's now fixed. Thanks for alerting us.

Fangjun Jiang on 18 Aug 2011
This should work. Adjust the CircleSize for better result. See scatter3() for more options.
CircleSize=100;
figure;h1=stem3(Lon,Lat,Elev,'filled');
figure;h2=scatter3(Lon,Lat,Elev,CircleSize,Elev,'s','filled');
view(2);

Patrick Kalita on 8 Sep 2011
Have you looked at trisurf?
The idea is that you first need to compute a triangulation of the (lat, lon) coordinates. The function delaunay will work fine. Then you can pass that along with the coordinate vectors to trisurf. Here's an example:
% make up some data
lat = rand(1,300)*6 - 3;
lon = rand(1,300)*4 - 2;
elev = peaks(lat, lon);
% triangulate and plot
tri = delaunay(lat, lon);
trisurf(tri, lat, lon, elev);
% optional, could help make the plot look nicer
Edwin Fonkwe on 17 Jan 2017
Doesn't work if vectors are collinear, apparently

Sanoop Siby on 10 Mar 2020
Youssef Wehbe on 1 Apr 2020
I have an aircraft dataset and would like to plot a 3D flight track (lat,lon,elev) and color the markers according to a depth (dust concentration in my case). Any help is greatly appreciated!

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