ECORP is leading the environmental consulting field with the use of ground-based laser scanning, high resolution and dynamic range-enhanced digital photography, and even experimentation with the use of small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAVs or drones). ECORP has been utilizing these advanced technologies for the documentation of cultural resources, which has opened up an exciting new world of mitigation options for our clients regarding the preservation of cultural resources. These new technologies are highly regarded by resource agencies and often exceed all of the standards set by the industry for developing appropriate mitigation measures that satisfy our clients’ needs of affordability and effectiveness.
The use of ground-based laser scanning (lidar) technology has allowed ECORP to capture archaeological resources data in enhanced detail and preserve it in state of the art archival permanence. Using a high-speed laser rangefinder to digitally scan resources far exceeds the accuracy and precision of detail as compared to the methods of hand-drawn sketching, while reducing the time and effort spent on recordation. Due to the value of the high-quality digital data over that of other data capture methods, lead federal and state agencies have been accepting this method openly and many are transitioning their mitigation platforms to this new technology. Laser scanning allows us to view archaeological resources from new perspectives that may enhance our understanding of the methods and techniques of the mining that occurred on a property, all while permanently archiving all of the relevant data on the site.
ECORP is also testing the use of sUAVs or drones as a form of documentation of cultural resources. Recently, ECORP flew drones above a large historic lime mining complex in El Dorado County. The drones flew carefully planned transects using GPS guided technology to capture hundreds of aerial images, high definition video, and other digital data. With the data, the team was able to construct a high-quality orthomosaic of the complex that mapped the intricate design of the mining district. In addition to their mapping benefits, drones have the capacity to capture new data that was previously unavailable. The opening at the top of a large lime kiln within the complex was previously inaccessible for cultural resources staff to document its interior.
Utilizing the sUAV, ECORP was able to capture high definition photographs of the interior of the kiln exposing previously unknown and undocumented data and information about the functionality and materials of the interior of the historic structure. Lastly, using geolocated images and Structure from Motion (SfM) software, a point cloud of the entire complex was developed. This information will be used to build 3D models of the marble monolith and lime kiln. With the 3D model data, we have the option of utilizing our 3D printer to print an accurately scaled down 3D replica of these large built environment cultural resources, which may someday be used as educational tools in a museum or archive.
With these new technologies, ECORP is pioneering the trail for new strategies to mitigate adverse effects to cultural resources to satisfy CEQA and Section 106 compliance. To learn more about ground-based laser scanning or to discuss the potential for the use of drones on your project, please contact Dave Krolick, at (916) 782-9100. For assistance developing a creative mitigation strategy using new technologies for cultural resources, contact Lisa Westwood or Jeremy Adams, at (916) 782-9100.
A special thank you to our friends at Aerotas for providing the sUAV platform, pilot, and software for the lime kiln data collection.