A look at using a Digital Elevation Model data to create a realistic terrain in Autodesk Maya from Ruchit Bhatt, who walks through finding and downloading DEM files, and converting them into a format that can be used with Maya.

Create hyper realistic Digital Elevation Model

Ruchit provides two resources for using Digital Elevation Models with Maya, one is the USGS TNM 2.0 viewer for finding and downloading DEM data, and the other MICRODEM, which can display and convert DEM data to the GeoTIFF format that can be used as a displacement map in Maya.

This shows how to use the Mental Ray approximation editor on a NURBS plane creating the displacement at render time.