Southeastern Section - 65th Annual Meeting - 2016

Paper No. 31-6
Presentation Time: 3:10 PM


ANEMONE, Robert L., Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412, EMERSON, Charles W., Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, NC 27412 and NACHMAN, Brett, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712,

The history of vertebrate paleontology demonstrates that success in locating fossils in the field has always involved a large degree of serendipity. While we systematically deploy field crews to survey large expanses of potentially fossil-bearing deposits, paleontologists have been slower than geologists or archaeologists to explore the utility of predictive models based on geospatial methods. In our work across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary in the Great Divide Basin (GDB) of SW Wyoming, we utilize a variety of tools, datasets, and methods from the geographic information sciences to model the distribution of fossil localities and to guide the prospecting of our field crews. Three dimensional digital models of individual localities have been created to explore taphonomic and geomorphological aspects of productive sandstone localities using two different approaches: terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR) and photogrammetry (using Agisoft Photoscan software). Unmanned aerial vehicles, including the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ and the DJI Inspire 1, were used to collect low altitude imagery of individual localities for photogrammetric reconstructions. Medium resolution Landsat 7 and 8, and high resolution QuickBird satellite imagery was used with pixel-based (ANN, Artificial Neural Network) and object-based (GEOBIA, geographic object image analysis) classification approaches to develop predictive models based on prior identification of productive localities in the GDB. Predictive models were tested (i.e., ground-truthed) over two summer field seasons and the results provide proof-of-principle to suggest that predictive models can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of paleontological field crews. Of the 27 new fossil-bearing localities that were identified during 2013 and 2014 field seasons, 20 were highlighted by predictive models using Landsat 8 and Quickbird imagery and the GEOBIA analytical approach. Geospatial paleontology has the potential to greatly improve how vertebrate paleontologists locate and analyze vertebrate localities. Fieldwork was conducted in accordance with U.S. Bureau of Land Management paleontological permit 287-WY-PA95 and supported by NSF BCS-1227329 (RL Anemone, PI).
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