GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 246-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


PHILIPPART, Dylan, Department of Geology, Radford University, Box - 6939, Radford, VA 24142-6939,

GigaPan technology was originally developed by NASA and Carnegie Melon University, for providing a platform for users to stitch hundreds of individual images together into a single, extremely high-quality panorama. Such a panorama allows users to explore the encapsulated environment as they please, zooming into areas of the panorama at extremely high magnifications, while maintaining high definition resolutions. Such a platform is ideal for developing data-based, “Quantitative GigaPan Virtual Field Trips” for Glaciers, and their retreat in Alaska. These field trips focus on Geology 100-level concepts, in the form of a lab exercise.

This research advances the hitherto qualitative, GigaPan technology by integrating a dominantly quantitative data collection mode. Users are given information about a glacial environment, and are then asked to perform measurements and collect data at specific areas throughout the panorama, indicated by a marker/field scale. Such a marker is graduated in metric units, so that users may measure individual rocks, or geologic features throughout the exercise. Users are guided through performing basic statistic calculations, for building and testing a hypothesis as the backbone of the scientific method.

As geology is a largely visual science, the goal of creating such an exercise is to simulate an online or virtual field research experience. The Scholar Citizens Initiative (SCI) at Radford University sponsored the senior author to GigaPan two glaciers in Alaska, for creating exercises intended to educate users on global warming, the rapid retreat of glaciers, and basic statistics. This quantitative application of GigaPan technology is intended to simulate an analysis that a geologist would perform on site.

Glacial environments are ideal natural laboratories for educators to communicate both broad-scale and detailed concepts and processes relating to global warming. One way in which the authors are accomplishing this is through high-resolution imaging technology, and brining such environments to the classroom. Classroom topics include; Mass wasting, glacial movement, ice fields, glacial recession, types of moraines, braided streams, outwash plains, glacial till and flour, and glacial erratics.