Kyle Rowinski



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Publication Date

January 2015


Kyle Rowinski, Geological Society of America GeoCorps Program, Summer 2015 Subsurface analysis using data obtained from an aerial platform may be regarded as impractical, however recent advancements in Very High Resolution (VHR) remote sensing have rendered the collection of terrain data with a vertical resolution of up to 30 cm highly feasible. Obtained via a process termed Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), data collected provides a 3-dimensional representation of surface morphology with high resolution. Input of LiDAR data into geospatial analysis software such as ArcMap or ArcScene allows for the identification of subtle topographic changes across a land surface. Considering subsurface processes often have observable effects on the surface, a thorough examination of LiDAR terrain data may provide the basis for conclusions regarding subsurface dynamics. Of particular interest is the application of LiDAR in the investigation of karst topography; terrain characterized by sinkholes, surface depressions and areas of subsidence as a result of the dissolution and collapse of underlying soluble rock units. Karst features offer points of recharge or discharge for associated aquifer systems, and are therefore considered important geologic resources. Geospatial analysis of LiDAR data is a preliminary step in the examination of karst topography; potential karst feature locations may be identified and input into a geodatabase. Subsequent field assessment of potential karst features may involve a rapid, broad-scale inventory, or require an in-depth, localized geologic analysis of a specific feature. The former is both time and resource conserving, and allows for a high number of features to be surveyed in a relatively short timeframe. Thus, federal agencies such as the United States Forest Service may incorporate a rapid karst inventory and assessment into a forest resource management and conservation project. Such is the case on the Coconino National Forest, where LiDAR data was used to facilitate a recent cave and karst survey, conducted by participants of the Geological Society of America's GeoCorps America program. Open Access - Permission by Author(s) See Extended description for more information.


United States, Environment, Geology









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