EXPERIENCES AND INSIGHTS FROM INTRODUCING TERRESTRIAL LASER SCANNING (TLS) TO GEOLOGY FIELD COURSES
TLS projects undertaken by students are related to mapping exercises and scientific questions identified during their field camp experience. Following an introductory lecture on TLS technology, applications, and methods, students learn to deploy and operate the instruments. Ideally, the number of students is limited to allow adequate time for direct participation in scanner setup and operation. Activities for the week build from an initial survey in a small, highly constrained location, to a final project where the students are asked to independently design a survey, deploy the instruments, collect the data, and analyze data to answer a specific scientific question. In addition, emphasis is placed on project metadata and documentation. Students produce a series of instrument set up and data processing flow charts, as well as equipment lists, site maps, and tables of scan parameters.
Identification of appropriate field sites is important. Small targets with limited vegetation are ideal. Examples of successful targets include: Holocene normal fault scarps, fluvial terrace risers, outcrops with small fault offsets, and recently burned hillslopes. Given the compressed timeline and complexity and volume of data collected by laser scanning, these small landforms can be processed rapidly and analyzed efficiently. Computing facilities and a balanced schedule that ensures adequate student time dedicated to working with the point cloud data are also important. We’ve found computers pre-configured with software to greatly improve the student’s ability to apply TLS data to geologic problem solving.