The near and far: How aerial thermography can elucidate findings in ground-based geophysical datasets


From dense ground cover to subtle geophysical signatures, researchers utilizing ground-based geophysical methods often encounter a variety of challenges limiting their potential for successful interpretation. With two case studies, we demonstrate the utility of augmenting near-surface geophysics with thermal and color photogrammetric models generated from aerial imagery. These studies include two projects supported through the SPARC program: the late Pueblo II great house at Largo Gap in New Mexico where ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey was made difficult by dense rubble across steep slopes, and Iron-Age sites along the eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert in the Bosutswe region of Botswana, where constrained survey areas make the interpretation of magnetic susceptibility, electrical conductivity, magnetic gradiometry and GPR anomalies challenging. Both geophysical surveys were augmented by aerial platform surveys using thermal and color sensors. These two imagery types were processed using structure-from-motion photogrammetry software to produce orthophotographs and 3D terrain models. These aerial data sets were successful in elucidating new features in the near-surface geophysical data sets.

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The near and far: How aerial thermography can elucidate findings in ground-based geophysical datasets. Katie Simon, Adam Wiewel, Eileen Ernenwein, Kristin Safi, Carla Klehm. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398363)

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