The quantification of magnetic-tape and disk topography has a macro-scale counterpart in the Earth sciences - terrain modelling, the numerical representation of relief and pattern of the ground surface. The two practices arose independently and continue to function separately. This methodological paper introduces terrain modelling, discusses its similarities to and differences from industrial surface metrology, and raises the possibility of a unified discipline of quantitative surface characterisation. A brief discussion of an Earth-science problem, subdividing a heterogeneous terrain surface from a set of sample measurements, exemplifies a multivariate statistical procedure that may transfer to tribological applications of 3-D metrological height data.
Additional Publication Details
Nano-metrology and terrain modelling - convergent practice in surface characterisation