Illuminating the Obscure: Using Legacy LiDAR Data to Define and Interpret a WWII Airfield on the Island of Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
Tinian International Airport in the CNMI is a repurposed portion of West Field, a WWII U.S. airbase constructed in 1944 for B-29 operations against Japan. In 2017, HDR conducted a cultural resource inventory for proposed airport infrastructure improvements, focusing on West Field and the adjacent Japanese-built Gurguan Point Airfield. Survey was complicated by dense secondary forest that obscures the two airfields, rendering many features invisible from the air. To assist with mapping these features, legacy LiDAR data collected in 2006 was obtained from the USACE. Although these data required considerable processing and classification prior to use, they allowed mapping of large features with greater speed and accuracy than could be accomplished in the field. Additionally, 21 LiDAR anomalies identified as potential features were uploaded to tablets used to navigate in the field. Consequently, the most common anomalies ("10m-diameter round pits") were verified as bomb craters created during the U.S. invasion. Recognizing that clusters of craters should indicate heavy bombardment of a specific target, HDR investigated a cluster in the LiDAR data and located a previously unidentified Japanese gun position. This demonstrates the economic and scientific value of older "found" datasets for documenting and interpreting cultural features large and small.
Cite this Record
Illuminating the Obscure: Using Legacy LiDAR Data to Define and Interpret a WWII Airfield on the Island of Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Kevin P. Gilmore, Elizabeth Leclerc, Peter Hille, Hiro Kurashina, James Carucci. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442977)
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min long: 153.633; min lat: -51.399 ; max long: -107.578; max lat: 24.207 ;
Abstract Id(s): 21797