2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 289-9
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WINKLER, Tyler S.1, VAN HENGSTUM, Peter J.1, DONNELLY, Jeffrey P.2, SULLIVAN, Richard M.1 and ALBURY, Nancy A.3, (1)Department of Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston, 1001 Texas Clipper Road, Galveston, TX 77554, (2)Geology & Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MS #22, 266 Woods Hole Rd, Woods Hole, MA 02543, (3)Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation, The National Museum of The Bahamas, P.O. Box AB20755, Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, tylerwinkler@tamu.edu

High-resolution aerial imagery is a very helpful reconnaissance, survey, and communication tool in coastal geology, especially if coastal sediment records are applied to paleoceanographic and paleoclimate problems. However, it often remains cost-prohibitive or impossible to collect high-resolution aerial imagery in remote locations, and the resolution of free satellite imagery provided by Google-Earth is often limited. In contrast, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) equipped with a high-definition camera, GPS positioning, and detailed altitudinal control can be acquired for a modest financial investment (< $1500USD) that can be repeatedly deployed to collect the required imagery. We will present aerial photography from three remote Bahamian blueholes and sinkholes from Abaco Island (Thatchpoint Bluehole, Blackwood Sinkhole, and Great Cistern) collected with a DJI Phantom 2 drone platform equipped with a Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis gimbal and GoPro Hero 3 digital camera. The resultant aerial images will be coupled with imagery of the sediment cores collected from these sites (x-radiography and photography). The drone-based images immediately place the regional geomorphology into context, and draw attention to important considerations for using these coastal sediment records to help inform paleoceangraphic problems (sea-level rise and shoreline migration, long-term coastal landform alteration, regional topographic variability, and focusing of surge during hurricane events). Furthermore, aerial photography is equally valuable to address broader impact objectives because they can be rapidly disseminated in social media (e.g., Instagram, Twitter, and laboratory websites). Geoscientists should become aware of the scientific value of drone technology and its potential applications (lidar surveys, aerial DEMs, and remote sensing) since policy and legislation on drone usage is being developed globally.