Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 34-16
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


FERULLO, Robert M. and JONES, Alec S., Environmental and Health Sciences, Johnson State College, 337 College Hill, Johnson, VT 05656

Drone technology has advanced to the point where it can be used for research purposes. In this study, drones will be used to monitor rockslides at Smuggler’s Notch, landslides in Jeffersonville, and soil erosion on fields around the state of Vermont. These environmental events pose physical and economic threats to Vermont’s infrastructure and ecosystems. The technology allows for the observation, analysis, and quantification of these events thus helping communities around Vermont plan for the future.

The DJI company builds cost-effective drones that take high-resolution images of the research sites. The high-resolution images are geotagged and therefore georeferenced in the ESRI ArcGIS mapping software. Images taken at different altitudes, and facing different directions, are stitched together to create a seamless overlay of the survey area. The images are draped over LiDAR data accessed from the VCGI website and therefore provides a reasonable visual representation of the study area.

The images are also imported to the Agisoft PhotoScan software to build geolocated three-dimensional digital volumetric models. When creating a model, Agisoft recognizes overlapping the coordinates within the images, and with the addition of accurately placed ground markers, a three-dimensional digital representation of the study area, and volumetric calculations, can be made. The identification of rock movement or loss of material over time can be made by digitally subtracting an earlier volumetric model from a volumetric model built later.

Here we present examples of geolocated images, volumetric calculations, and change over time, from sites on the campus of Johnson State College. Once the piloting and software skills have been perfected we will address the broader environmental issues around the state of Vermont.