SCANNING THE EARTH'S SURFACE BEFORE ITS TOO LATE



Chris Fisher is the founder and co-director of The Earth Archive initiative — an ambitious scientific project aiming to scan the Earth’s entire surface before it’s too late.

Chris is an archaeologist and a professor at Colorado State University. He is an accidental geospatial person. In 2009, he was tending to his archeological fieldwork in Mexico — a new settlement no less — when he realized he needed a fresh way to document thousands of building foundations.

He turned to LIDAR and never looked back.

WHY DID YOU NEED A NEW WAY OF DOCUMENTING THINGS?

Technically, there is nothing wrong with the way people have been doing it for years. It’s still viable.

But it’s time-consuming.

And slow.

There were so many building foundations at this site in the central Mexican state of Michoacán. Walking across the landscape with teams of people manually annotating house foundations would have taken over a decade, in my estimate.

I’m notoriously impatient. I didn’t want to do that.

There had to be a better way to do this, and there was.

A technique called airborne LIDAR.

HOW WAS LIDAR GOING TO MAKE A MASSIVE DIFFERENCE?

I walked down the hallway to a colleague’s door, and said, “Dude, there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

Something faster, more accurate, and something that gives us a visual of what the entire landscape looks like.

It’s easy to find individual features. But putting the complete picture together is challenging when you’re in an area with a complex topography and a lot of housing foundations, as with that site.

We decided on a new technique called LIDAR. Another team of archaeologists had just used it with impressive effect at the Maya site of Caracole. We had the resources, and we found a company willing to fly the LIDAR for us.


See the full article and listen to the podcast at: https://mapscaping.com/blogs/the-mapscaping-podcast/scanning-the-earth-surface-before-its-too-late


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