Amazing images taken from airplanes using forest penetrating radar are mapping the geology of Washington state.
Intriguing, artistic, beautiful and absolutely strange, Presentation “The Bare Earth” on the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website uses shading and added color to present underlying geological features such as lava flows, glacial moraines, drumlins, tsunami floods, landslides, eruptions, faults, patterns of rivers and much, much more.
LIDAR, which stands for Light, Detection and Range, is a laser-guided mapping system that shoots billions of laser pulses at an object and, like sonar or radar, collects information about the object as it rays return.
The information in this case is the time it takes for each pulse to arrive.
Some of the light reflects off the treetops, but enough will hit the ground below to reveal the underlying geography as if the trees simply didn’t exist.
The light also penetrates the soil strata, meaning that while the first return pulse reading indicates the surface topography, the final return pulse is the bare earth below, providing unmatched images of the landscape.
This technology was used to produce a fascinating series of images by a cartographer from the United States Geological Survey of the Mississippi.
LIDAR revealed hundreds of years of subtle changes in the flow, flooding and curvature of the mighty river.
Next a deadly landslide in 2014 that destroyed parts of a small town about 50 miles outside of Seattle, the Geological Survey of Washington realized it was up to them to map potential landslide sites to provide an early warning to the people living there .
As it turned out, the same geological and climatic hazard discovery method using LIDAR can help state authorities plan for all kinds of emergencies, such as volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, and more.
The Bare Earth presentation records all the findings that LIDAR has made in a state that has a highly varied geomorphology – the change and evolution of the surface and underlying geology over time.
It records the use of LIDAR to map the state’s landslides, geological curiosities, bedrock, faults, range, and erosion from tsunamis, volcanoes, glaciers, and waterways.
You will definitely want to spend a little time looking at the images.
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