A new method for the recognition and mapping of surfaces in coastal landscapes that provide accurate and low variability topographic measurements with respect to airborne lidar surveys is described and demonstrated in this paper. Such surfaces are herein termed "fiducial" because they can represent reference baseline morphology in Studies of coastal change due to natural or anthropogenic causes. Non-fiducial surfaces may also be identified in each separate lidar survey to be used in a given geomorphic change analysis. Sites that are non-fiducial in either or both lidar surveys that bracket the time period under investigation may be excluded from consideration in subsequent calculations of survey-to-survey elevation differences to eliminate spurious indications of landscape change. This new analysis method, or lidar fiducial surface recognition (LFSR) algorithm, is intended to more fully enable the non-ambiguous Use of topographic lidar in a range of coastal investigations. The LFSR algorithm may be widely applied, because it is based solely on the information inherent in the USGS/NASA/NOAA airborne topographic lidar coverage that exists for most of the contiguous U.S. coastline.