This paper is part of the 2017 3D Digital Documentation Summit.

Integrating 3D Digital Documentation Methods for Cultural Resource Identification and Documentation in a Heavily Forested Mountainous Landscape

This paper will discuss a number of different technologies that have proven applicable to cultural resource prospecting and documentation – including airborne Lidar, terrestrial Lidar, structure from motion photography, and drone based remote sensing. More importantly, the paper will discuss our research in integrating these technologies to provide fused data multi-scale documentation for features in a particularly difficult landscape for such documentation – heavy deciduous forests, steep topography, and a history of what has often proven to be poor or incomplete documentation. For example, the Natural Resource Analysis Lab at WVU using its ALTM 3100 acquired over five mission acres of dense airborne Lidar data for what were the most historic mined areas in West Virginia. Where appropriate, we have integrated this data with terrestrial Lidar to capture specific detailed data for features of special historic interest within the broader data from the aerial sensor. Using static occupancy GPS for both the airborne and terrestrial data, we have been able to link these two different data sets often single centimeter precision or better. This has also proven to be applicable to Lidar/drone imagery; drone imagery / terrestrial Lidar; and structure from motion point cloud data / terrestrial point cloud data.

This work has focused in and in the locale of the New River Gorge National River (USDI-NPS) and Gary Hollow, which is located in McDowell County WV, which for over fifty years was the largest underground coal mine in the world. The presentation will also describe work completed along the Ohio River and areas in Northeastern West Virginia in the high mountains of the state. Mining towns and features, historic highways, frontier settlements and work on Civil War battlefields will be included. The work is ongoing under the umbrella of a project initiative titled “Appalachian Heritage – Remains, Ruins, Traces and Structures”. The work is also focused on providing linkages between the public history of sites, locales, and regions which are often relatively well documented in terms of oral and written histories, with past and current site conditions with specific landscapes and remains which are often very poorly documented. The work is also now supporting early documentation efforts for a proposed Appalachian Geopark. Geoparks are a program of the United Nations UNESCO program with Geoparks integrating environmental importance and uniqueness with cultural and historic resources. This would be the first Geopark in the United States while there are over a hundred Geoparks throughout the rest of the world.

Speaker Bios
Charles Yuill is Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture at West Virginia University where his research of over twenty five years has focused on cultural resource documentation and management, industrial archaeology, and 3d documentation of environmental conditions. The opportunity to work with early terrestrial Lidar data (using one of the first Cyrax scanners) of medieval features in Scotland allowed him to realize the opportunities of such documentation- with the work now focusing heavily on industrial heritage in the Appalachians.

Peter Butler’s work at WVU focuses on heritage and cultural resource management, as well as community design outreach and engagement. He has worked in small Appalachians communities focusing on the roles that heritage tourism can provide in the recovery of these small rural communities.

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