Paper No. 354-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
NEW VIEWS ON AN OLD LANDSCAPE: EMPLOYING AN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM (UAS) FOR RAPID HIGH RESOLUTION DATA ACQUISITION TO AID GEOMORPHOLOGICAL RESEARCH
Due to the increasing availability, relatively low economic cost and easy to use off the shelf capabilities, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have become a transformational technologic tool for geomorphology research. Over a two-day period UAS were employed to completely survey a remote upland palaeo-periglacial landscape located throughout the Bear Rocks Preserve (BRP), West Virginia. The preliminary results from the aerial survey, when combined with ground based observations, aided the development of a model of landscape evolution for the BRP. The data acquired by UAS, allowed the researcher to rapidly view the whole study site and target areas of greater interest for ground based data collection, including XRF and clast form analysis, leading to improved time management of days spent in the field. The aerial and ground based mapping of the site demonstrated significant variation in the frequencies, compositions and locations of palaeo-periglacial landforms; e.g. felsenmeer deposits, tors, patterned ground (including possible stone polygons and linear clastic features). When processed, the aerial survey data facilitated the highly accurate mapping of other geomorphological features, ventifacts and a geochemical dataset in context to the palaeo-periglacial landforms observed throughout the BRP. The preliminary model for landscape evolution of the BRP site indicates a relative consistently open and exposed environment during the Pleistocene. Recent updates to FAA regulations have eased the obstacles for UAS deployment for professional uses, resulting in a more widespread adoption of this technology as an enhancement to remote field-based research activities. An unforeseen positive consequence of UAS technology is the rapidity for engaging and enabling undergraduates, K-12 students and the general public in the rapid mapping and initial image processing of geomorphology in their own region. Recent events have demonstrated a significant need for better connectivity between the scientific and nonscientific communities; the excitement generated by using a UAS is one method to accomplish this.