Note

Click here to download the full example code

# Distance Between Two Surfaces¶

Compute the average thickness between two surfaces.

For example, you might have two surfaces that represent the boundaries of lithological layers in a subsurface geological model and you want to know the average thickness of a unit between those boundaries.

We can compute the thickness between the two surfaces using a few different methods. First, we will demo a method where we compute the normals of the bottom surface, and then project a ray to the top surface to compute the distance along the surface normals. Second, we will use a KDTree to compute the distance from eevery point in the bottom mesh to it’s closest point in the top mesh.

```
import pyvista as pv
import numpy as np
# A helper to make a random surface
def hill(seed):
mesh = pv.ParametricRandomHills(randomseed=seed,
hillamplitude=0.5)
mesh.rotate_y(80) # give the surfaces some tilt
return mesh
h0 = hill(1).elevation()
h1 = hill(10)
# Shift one surface
h1.points[:,-1] += 5
h1 = h1.elevation()
```

```
p = pv.Plotter()
p.add_mesh(h0)
p.add_mesh(h1)
p.show_grid()
p.show()
```

Out:

```
[(32.9280789042912, 43.08363415255168, 35.88714410318951),
(-0.15555524826049805, 9.99999999999999, 2.8035099506378174),
(0.0, 0.0, 1.0)]
```

## Ray Tracing Distance¶

Compute normals of lower surface

```
h0n = h0.compute_normals(point_normals=True, cell_normals=False,
auto_orient_normals=True, )
```

Travel along noramals to the other surface and compute the thickness on each vector.

```
h0n["distances"] = np.empty(h0.n_points)
for i in range(h0n.n_points):
p = h0n.points[i]
vec = h0n["Normals"][i] * h0n.length
p0 = p - vec
p1 = p + vec
ip, ic = h1.ray_trace(p0, p1, first_point=True)
dist = np.sqrt(np.sum((ip - p)**2))
h0n["distances"][i] = dist
# Replace zeros with nans
mask = h0n["distances"] == 0
h0n["distances"][mask] = np.nan
np.nanmean(h0n["distances"])
```

Out:

```
5.148634160684365
```

```
p = pv.Plotter()
p.add_mesh(h0n, scalars="distances")
p.add_mesh(h1, color=True, opacity=0.75)
p.show()
```

Out:

```
[(32.9280789042912, 43.08363415255168, 35.88714410318951),
(-0.15555524826049805, 9.99999999999999, 2.8035099506378174),
(0.0, 0.0, 1.0)]
```

## Nearest Neighbor Distance¶

You could also use a KDTree to compare the distance between each point of the upper surface and the nearest neighbor of the lower surface. This won’t be the exact surface to surface distance, but it will be noticeably faster than a ray trace, especially for large surfaces.

```
from scipy.spatial import KDTree
tree = KDTree(h1.points)
d, idx = tree.query(h0.points )
h0["distances"] = d
np.mean(d)
```

Out:

```
4.842395354562363
```

```
p = pv.Plotter()
p.add_mesh(h0, scalars="distances")
p.add_mesh(h1, color=True, opacity=0.75)
p.show()
```

Out:

```
[(32.9280789042912, 43.08363415255168, 35.88714410318951),
(-0.15555524826049805, 9.99999999999999, 2.8035099506378174),
(0.0, 0.0, 1.0)]
```

**Total running time of the script:** ( 0 minutes 31.882 seconds)