LiDAR at Cliff

The LiDAR laser scanner.This is just a quick post to inform the blog followers that we were visited by the guys from Clearwater Surveying out of South Range and Steve Curelli from Michigan Tech’s School of Technology. The crew brought out a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanning instrument. This is a remote sensing technology that uses lasers to record millions-yes millions-of individual points of data of any surface the scanner is pointed at.

As the scanner rotates on the tripod, its recorded data is displayed on the laptop-a laptop that required some quick thinking to keep it from dying on us.

We spent the entire day (our day off mind you) running 7 scans of the excavated mill, and although there was one major hiccup (we had to jerry-rig jumper cables to charge the laptop that stores the scan data), the raw data looks great. This raw data will require a lot of processing but I hope to have some images created out of the scan (what is called a point cloud) up in the near future.

This technology is being used by historic building recorders like the Historic American Engineering Record to assist in making measured drawings of features. The data’s also useful for creating 3-D digital models. This way, even though the excavations will be backfilled in a week, we may be able to access a 3-D representation of the works for further analysis without having to return to the site. Our hope is to use the data for both of these reasons as well as test its sensitivity to different materials on site. Historic wood, stamp sand, and even the copper residue found on the wood may respond differently to the laser. By understanding these responses, or intensities, we may be able to refine the technology for future scans of historic structures in the Upper Peninsula.

So stay tuned for a more detailed post on the days work and results. Tomorrow, back to the excavations.


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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

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