THE USE OF MICRO DRONES IN GEOLOGIC FIELD WORK
Drone aerial surveys, field mapping, and monitoring can be done in real-time, depending on the system. Most importantly, drones can provide access to areas that are hard to reach and/or dangerous, such as vertical or overhanging rock outcrops or gas-rich and unstable volcanic areas. They can be used to survey disaster areas during and after events. Some examples of their uses are that they can quickly provide an overview of an area affected by flooding or mass wasting; give archaeological geologists an aerial perspective of a site; be used in coastal and reef surveys; and can even be flown inside caves for karst research. Micro drones can be potentially modified to collect other types of data as well, such as weather data, thermal imaging, sample collection, etc.
High winds (>40 kph), for instance, can severely limit control or flight time, due to rapidly drained battery power as the drone uses energy to maintain its position. Instrumentation weight is also limited. Current, off-the-shelf drones with a basic camera package can stay airborne for between 20 and 30 minutes. Micro drones are also not water-resistant which limits their use in wet conditions.
Ready availability of micro drones has led to them being used, intentionally or otherwise, by some individuals to aggravate wildlife and/or other people. Because of this, laws and regulations are being proposed and put into place to curtail their use. It is important for researchers who use them to do so responsibly.