stac-vrt is lightly maintained these days, and its use case is now better filled by other libraries:

  1. GDAL now natively supports STAC items: See

  2. stackstac provides a nicer way to stack STAC items into a DataArray

stac-vrt is a small library for quickly generating a GDAL VRT from a collection of STAC items. This makes it fast and easy to generate a mosaic of many raster images.


stac-vrt can be installed from conda-forge

conda install -c conda-forge stac-vrt

or from PyPI

pip install stac-vrt


stac_vrt.build_vrt() is the primary function to use. You provide it a list of STAC items:

>>> import stac_vrt
>>> import requests
>>> stac_items = requests.get(
...     ""
... ).json()["features"]

These STAC items contain essentially all of the information needed to build a VRT.

>>> vrt = stac_vrt.build_vrt(stac_items, data_type="Byte", block_width=512, block_height=512)

The vrt variable is just a Python string that’s a valid VRT (an XML document). It can be written to disk, or passed directly to rasterio or rioxarray (this example uses rioxarray and also requires Dask to read the chunks in parallel).

>>> import rioxarray
>>> ds = rioxarray.open_rasterio(vrt, chunks=(4, -1, "auto"))
>>> ds
<xarray.DataArray (band: 4, y: 11588, x: 20704)>
dask.array<open_rasterio-a61f0d99384a83218d8164684d89e2db<this-array>, shape=(4, 11588, 20704), dtype=uint8, chunksize=(1, 11520, 11520), chunktype=numpy.ndarray>
  * band         (band) int64 1 2 3 4
  * y            (y) float64 2.986e+06 2.986e+06 2.986e+06 ... 2.98e+06 2.98e+06
  * x            (x) float64 5.248e+05 5.248e+05 ... 5.372e+05 5.372e+05
    spatial_ref  int64 0
    scale_factor:  1.0
    add_offset:    0.0
    grid_mapping:  spatial_ref


VRTs are a pretty cool concept in GDAL. The basic idea is to make document that’s essentially just metadata; it points to other documents or URLs for the actual data. They’re extremely useful for creating a mosiac of many images: the VRT just has information like “this sub-dataset goes at position (x, y) in the full dataset”.

VRTs pair extremely nicely with Dask-backed xarray DataArrays: you build up a mosaic of a whole bunch of images that just involves reading some metadata and doing some geospatial reprojections. No actual data is read. Then you can (lazily) read the actual data into an xarray DataArray for your analysis, and the separate original images can be read into separate chunks.

One downside to (large) VRTs is that they can be time-consuming to build. You’d need to make at least one HTTP requests for each file going into the VRT to read the metadata (things like the CRS, shape, and transformation).

When you’re using STAC to discover your assets, you already have all of that information avaiable. And so stac-vrt is able to build the VRT without any additional network requests. An informal benchmark on a set of 500 images stored in Azure Blob Storage showed that gdal.BuildVRT took about 90 seconds, while stac-vrt.build_vrt took a handful of milliseconds.

Building stac-vrt compatible STAC Items

If you’re responsible for creating STAC items, stac-vrt would appreciate if you include

These are used by stac-vrt to build the VRT.