The National Park Service recently completed a laser-scanning project at Mount Rushmore National Monument. Over the past month, crews have been using lasers to create a three-dimensional digital scan of the four presidential faces and other features. Tripod-mounted lasers were used to project and measure millions of points on the monument, capturing sub-centimeter details. This ground-breaking 3-D scanning project is intended to not only provide comprehensive historical documentation but also has applications for interactive public interpretation, education, and research programs.

3D laser scan of Mount Rushmore

Scanning the faces of Mount Rushmore captured millions of data points to create a highly accurate digital record. Photo courtesy of Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Scanning was undertaken by members of the Park’s technical ropes team and scanning specialists from CyArk, Historic Scotland, and the Digital Design Studio of the Glasgow School of Art. The project is part of the CyArk 500 initiative, an international effort to digitally document and preserve 500 of the world’s heritage sites. Other CyArk-documented sites include Chichen Itza, Mesa Verde, Pompeii, and the Titanic (in progress).

Though scanning the colossal faces took only 16 days, it will take another 10 to 12 months to process the data.

For more information, images of the scanning process, and a journal of the scanning project see http://www.nps.gov/moru/parknews/2010-digital-scanning-project.htm

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
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