Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - AGS Luncheon Lecture

From Fossils to Glaciers: Structure from Motion (3D Modeling) in Alaska National Parks

Noon Luncheon 11:30-1:00 pm

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The NPS Alaska Regional office has been developing Structure from Motion (SfM) capabilities over the last few years to support NPS science and outreach. The SfM applications range in scale from 3D models of fossils and artifacts to digital elevation models (DEM) and orthomosaics of glaciers, landslides, rivers, and coasts. SfM was first applied to museum objects to bring the park collections out of the archives onto the web as a virtual museum (https://sketchfab.com/alaska_nps_geology). These 3D models allow us to share the rich collections that we have in our curation center and share the stories of the parks. Over the last two years, we collaborated with colleagues in the FWS and BLM to develop an aerial SfM system. Aerial SfM is an accessible tool for detailed mapping of NPS units in Alaska where mobilization is expensive to reach the remote areas of Alaska National Parks. Using agency planes and pilots, a high-quality camera, and a survey-grade GPS; aerial SfM provides an accessible and cost-effective tool for generating accurate DEMs and high-resolution orthomosaics.

In 2017, we used the aerial system to measure glacier volume changes, ice-dammed lake level changes, changes in river morphology, and intertidal elevations. In 2018 we acquired aerial SfM over seven of the Alaska NPS Units. We also were able to acquire timely imagery for monitoring geologic hazards. We responded to a glacier outburst flood from an ice damned lake by the Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. The flood breached a spit along the coast, which is a popular camping spot. With the timely assistance of FWS colleagues, we were able to get imagery over the erupting Veniaminof Volcano. These projects have proven that SfM is an accessible, scalable technology that is useful for educating the public about the resources of Alaska National Parks and addressing management needs.


Chad Hults, U.S. National Park Service, Anchcorage, AK

Chad has been working as a geologist at the NPS Alaska Regional Office for four years providing geological knowledge and technical assistance to Parks. Prior to this, he spent eight years at the USGS conducting geologic research and producing a new geologic map of Alaska. The NPS Geoscientist-in-the-Parks internship program brought him to Denali National Park in 2001 where he eventually worked for 5 years. He has experience geologic mapping, reclaiming streams, glacier monitoring, permafrost and soils mapping, surficial geologic mapping, monitoring landslides, and geotechnical assessments of roads and trails. Chad holds a BS in Environmental Engineering Geology and an MS in Geology from Western Washington University. His interests and experience span from stream restoration to the tectonics of North America. Through his career he has learned survey techniques using total station, PPK GPS, and RTK GPS. These skills, in addition to being an amateur photographer, led to the desire to develop SfM capabilities for the NPS Alaska Region.

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