Sub pixel detection of archaeological materials using NASA satellite and aircraft data

Author(s): Paul Buck; Donald Sabol

Year: 2016


For this NASA-funded project we examine the detectability of sub-pixel artifacts (i.e. site midden,

obsidian artifacts, and pottery sherds) using airborne and spaceborne image data. We focus on research conducted to date at Glass Mountain Site in northern California. This large obsidian quarry area has been investigated winter 2014 and again during the height of vegetation growth 2014. Visible, SWIR, and TIR spectral characteristics of targets and background were measured in the field. A spectral library has been constructed from ~100 target and background samples. The average density of obsidian per m2 has been calculated for ~10 8 x 8 m squares. Image data include: NASA’s MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) imaging system, the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS), and the advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). Our objectives are to: 1) test the detection limits of obsidian artifacts at the sub-pixel scale; 2) examine the influence of background, seasonal vegetation change and other on-site changes have for the detectability of obsidian, 3) establish the instrumentation, spatial scale, and spectral bands needed to improve the detectability, and 4) test predictions of new locations for obsidian artifacts at specific (spatial) densities in other image scenes and ground truth these predictions.

Cite this Record

Sub pixel detection of archaeological materials using NASA satellite and aircraft data. Paul Buck, Donald Sabol. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405254)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords
North America - California

Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;