Utah State University wordmark
This is an archive of an old version of TauDEM. For the latest version see http://hydrology.usu.edu/taudem


David G. Tarboton
email: david.tarboton<at symbol>usu.edu
Utah State University
4110 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-8200

TauDEM (Terrain Analysis Using Digital Elevation Models) is a set of tools for the analysis of terrain using digital elevation models. It incorporates programs and digital elevation model (DEM) analysis functions developed over several years of research with support from a variety of sponsors, whose support is gratefully acknowledged. While an extendable component (toolbar plugin) is available for MapWindow in TauDEM 3.1 at http://www.engineering.usu.edu/dtarb/taudem/, TauDEM 4.0 contains both a toolbar plugin and a geoprocessing toolbox for ESRI ArcGIS 9.3.

Distribution and Copyright

Copyright (C) 2009  Utah State University

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2, 1991 as published by the Free Software Foundation.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License for more details.

A copy of the full GNU General Public License is included in file gpl.html. This is also available at
or from:
The Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330
Boston, MA  02111-1307, USA.

If you wish to use or incorporate this program (or parts of it) into other software that does not meet the GNU General Public License conditions contact the author to request permission.
David G. Tarboton
Utah State University
4110 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-4110
email:  david.tarboton<at symbol>usu.edu

Download and Installation


This is an archive of an old version of TauDEM. For the latest version see http://hydrology.usu.edu/taudem


Execute the installation file to install the necessary libraries and components. Open ArcMap. If the ArcToolbox Window is not open, click on the "Show/Hide ArcToolbox Window" icon in the Standard Toolbar. Right click on ArcToolbox at the top of the window. Select Add Toolbox... . Browse to C:\Program Files\TauDEMGPToolbox\TauDEM_Tools and click Open. The TauDEM Toolbox should now be visible in the list of toolboxes.

Usage Notes and Limitations

  1. Grid File and Path Names: Spaces are not allowed in file names or paths (e.g. "My Documents" has a space, and so will not work). File names must be 13 characters or less.
  2. Grid Size: Grids must be smaller than 7000 x 7000 cells.
  3. Grid Spatial Reference/Size: All input grids are assumed to be the same size, shape, and in the same spatial reference. This is sometimes checked by the program, but not consistantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I got the following error message: "-2147467259Automation error Unspecified error." What should I do?

    Check for a corrupt or unrecognized file in the folder where you are working. This error often occurs when the program is checking for existing grids that need to be deleted. If it encounters something unexpected while parsing the folder, it gives this error. As a workaround, you can try moving just the data you need to a new folder.

    Also check for spaces in file names - see limitations above.

    Try reboot the computer.

    If the above do not help, you may need to uninstall and reinstall TauDEM. After uninstallation, delete all files in c:\program files\taudem before reinstalling..

  2. I have tried to install TauDEM, but in the "customize" window, after adding the file "agtaudem.dll", I get a window telling me which objects have been added but no new entry in the toolbars-tab. What could be the reason?

    Make sure that you have administrator priveleges (necessary to add entries to the registry) and are running ArcMap as an administrator. This is most commonly an issue in Window's Vista. To run as administrator right click on ArcMap in the start menu and select Run as ... Administrator, entering the password if necessary. This should only be necessary the first time you register the TauDEM toolbar.

  3. I got the error: "runflood: out of stack space", even though the DEM is well within the size limits.

    Response: This error occurs with some data that requires deep recursions and overflows the stack, which, by default, is quite small. The solution is to increase the stack space of the calling program. One command that does this is:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\Bin\editbin /stack:10000000 "c:\program files\arcgis\bin\arcmap.exe"

    This command uses the editbin function that is part of Microsoft Visual Studio to alter the stack size allotted to Arcmap, because TauDEM runs as an extension under Arcmap. This function seems to need to be done on the ArcGIS exe to work. Using it on the TauDEM dll does not seem to work. The editbin function is part of visual studio.

    If Microsoft’s EditBin utility cannot be accessed, use ESRI's utility provided here: http://downloads.esri.com/support/TechArticles/Editbin.zip. Download the .zip file, and extract it to a folder, for example, <temp>. Open a command prompt and navigate to the <temp> folder. To increase the stack space, issue the following command:

    EditBin.exe <path_to_arcmap.exe> <stack_size_in_bytes>

    For example, the following command increases the stack size to 10,000,000 bytes:

    EditBin.exe "c:\program files\arcgis\bin\arcmap.exe" 10000000

  4. How does the TauDEM Fill Pits function differ from the Fill function provided by ArcGIS?

    Response: Both functions should give exactly the same results except when burning in existing flow directions, a capability that the TauDEM function provides that the ArcGIS one does not. Realize that ArcHydro also provides burning in functionality, but it uses a different approach from the one in TauDEM. The ArcGIS implementation of is more efficient than the TauDEM one, using less cpu time.

Updates, history and command line versions

  • This is version 4.0, released July 2009. This adds support for the ArcToolbox, where each of the functions are available as tools that can be run individually, or as part of a modelbuilder model.
  • Link to version 3.1, released May 2005. This adds support for MapWindow and fixes some bugs. There have been periodic bug fix updates to this version. Latest, September 2008. List of changes.
  • Link to Version 3.0, released August 2004. Version 3.0 was a restructuring of the grid data access functionality to avoid dependence on the MapWindow tkgrid utility that had problems reading the Windows registry and an upgrade to work with ArcGIS 9.0.
  • Link to Version 2.0, released September 2002 This was a restructuring of the packaging of TauDEM. Instead of a standalone executable that had MapWindow inserted as a control, TauDEM has now been made into a Plugin, that can work with both MapWindow and ArcGIS. Substantial additional functionality has been added and quite a few bugs removed.
  • Link to version 1.0a TauDEM GUI version, released July 13, 2001  I do not recommend using this old version.
    Even older command line versions of this software may be accessed at my web site http://www.engineering.usu.edu/dtarb/ under Software/TARDEM.


This software has been developed with support from the following. This support is greatly appreciated.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, research assistantship under Rafael Bras, for my Sc.D. research where this all got started. Some remnants of the code from this work still remain.
  • National Science Foundation grant EAR-9318977 for the development of the D¥ approach (Tarboton, D. G., 1997).
  • Forest Renewal of British Columbia, for the development of Terrain Stability Mapping methodology and Arcview Implementation, in a collaborative project involving Canadian Forest Products Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, Bob Pack at Terratech Consulting Ltd., British Columbia and Craig Goodwin.
  • National Science Foundation grant INT-9724720 and NIWA New Zealand for the work on methods for mapping and identification of flow methods from digital elevation data.
  • Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory for work on the adaptation of these codes for use with the TMDL Toolkit, and integration of flow with existing channel networks.
  • United States Geological Survey and Utah Water Research Laboratory, Source Water Protection project, for the development of specialized analysis functions for water quality analysis.
  • Bob Pack for the development of the Reverse Accumulation function.
  • Dan Ames, HydroMap consulting for the MapWindow port.


Band, L. E., (1986), "Topographic partition of watersheds with digital elevation models," Water Resources Research, 22(1): l5-2

Garbrecht, J. and L. W. Martz, (1997), "The Assignment of Drainage Direction Over Flat Surfaces in Raster Digital Elevation Models," Journal of Hydrology, 193: 204-213.

Jenson, S. K. and J. O. Domingue, (1988), "Extracting Topographic Structure from Digital Elevation Data for Geographic Information System Analysis," Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 54(11): 1593-1600.

Mark, D. M., (1988), "Network models in geomorphology," Chapter 4 in Modelling in Geomorphological Systems, Edited by M. G. Anderson, John Wiley., p.73-97.

Marks, D., J. Dozier and J. Frew, (1984), "Automated Basin Delineation From Digital Elevation Data," Geo. Processing, 2: 299-311.

Montgomery, D. R. and W. E. Dietrich, (1992), "Channel Initiation and the Problem of Landscape Scale," Science, 255: 826-830.

O'Callaghan, J. F. and D. M. Mark, (1984), "The Extraction of Drainage Networks From Digital Elevation Data," Computer Vision, Graphics and Image Processing, 28: 328-344.

Peckham, S. D., (1995), "Self-Similarity in the Three-Dimensional Geometry and Dynamics of Large River Basins," PhD Thesis, Program in Geophysics, University of Colorado.

Peuker, T. K. and D. H. Douglas, (1975), "Detection of surface-specific points by local parallel processing of discrete terrain elevation data," Comput. Graphics Image Process., 4: 375-387.

Tarboton, D. G., (1989), "The analysis of river basins and channel networks using digital terrain data," Sc.D. Thesis, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA, (Also available as Tarboton D. G., R. L. Bras and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, (Same title), Technical report no 326, Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory for Water resources and Hydrodynamics, Department of Civil Engineering, M.I.T., September 1989).

Tarboton, D. G., R. L. Bras and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, (1991), "On the Extraction of Channel Networks from Digital Elevation Data," Hydrologic Processes, 5(1): 81-100.

Tarboton, D. G., R. L. Bras and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, (1992), "A Physical Basis for Drainage Density," Geomorphology, 5(1/2): 59-76.

Tarboton, D. G., (1997), "A New Method for the Determination of Flow Directions and Contributing Areas in Grid Digital Elevation Models," Water Resources Research, 33(2): 309-319. http://www.engineering.usu.edu/dtarb/dinf.pdf

Tarboton, D. G. and U. Shankar, (1998), "The Identification and Mapping of Flow Networks from Digital Elevation Data," Invited Presentation at AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, December 6 to 10. http://www.engineering.usu.edu/cee/faculty/dtarb/agu98dem/

Tarboton, D. G. and D. P. Ames, (2001),"Advances in the mapping of flow networks from digital elevation data," in World Water and Environmental Resources Congress, Orlando, Florida, May 20-24, ASCE. [ PDF (0.5MB)]