Part of GETSI Field Collection: Geodetic imaging technologies have emerged as critical tools for a range of earth science research applications from hazard assessment to change detection to stratigraphic sequence analysis. In this module students learn to conduct terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) and/or Structure from Motion (SfM) surveys to address real field research questions of importance to society. Both geodetic methods generate high resolution topographic data and have widespread research applications in geodesy, geomorphology, structural geology, and more. The module can be implemented in four- to five-day field course or as several weeks of a semester course. Prepared data sets are available for courses unable to collect data directly. Instructors can request support for equipment loans and some types of technical assistance from UNAVCO, which runs NSF's Geodetic Facility.
Webinar about teaching this module: Integrating GPS, SfM, and TLS into Geoscience Field Courses
Strengths of the Module
- These materials guide students through designing surveys using TLS and SfM with increasingly higher-order questions as the units progress. Instructors can choose to use either or both methods for developing high resolution topographic models.
- Includes units on four geoscience applications of high resolution topographic analysis - stratigraphic, road-cut design, fault scarp, and change detection. Instructors can choose to implement one or more of these application units. Other applications of high resolution topographic analysis are suggested as possibilities for the summative assessment.
- Students must articulate the societal importance of analyzing high resolution topography for the different applications, leading to greater engagement and understanding of why these types of studies are undertaken.
- Quantitative skills are featured in the survey design of both methods - something often lacking in geoscience field courses.
- Teaching resources include a variety tips for successfully implementing the module in real field environments, including ideas for picking field sites and keeping student occupied once in the field.
- The skills learned regarding the collection and interpretation of high resolution topographic data are practical in nature and can be valuable to both industry and research applications.
- Can be easily used in a summer field camp or in an academic year course with field components. Alternatively, Prepared data sets allow classroom courses to conduct similar analyses, even if they are unable to go into the field.
Prepared data sets »
Great fit for majors-level classes in
- field geology
- structural geology
- any course with a field component
Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
for use at different institutions »
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Analyzing High Resolution Topography Module
- Unit 1-TLS: Introduction to TLS
- Unit 1-SfM: Introduction to SfM
- Unit 2: Geodetic survey of an outcrop for stratigraphic analysis
- Unit 2.1: Geodetic survey of an outcrop for road cut design
- Unit 3: Geodetic survey of a fault scarp
- Unit 4: Geomorphic change detection
- Unit 5: Summative assessment project
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
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