Day 4

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Paper title Innovative UAV application of LIDAR for Cultural and Natural Heritage in Guatemala
  1. Carolina Collaro University of Jaén Spain Speaker
Form of presentation Poster
  • D2. Sustainable Development
    • D2.12 Cultural and Natural Heritage
Abstract text Innovative UAV application of LIDAR for Cultural and Natural Heritage in Guatemala

The research aims to document the lidar technology utility installed on UAV beyond visual line of sight systems (BVLOS) for vast cultural landscape mapping and conservation in archaeological context. The case study illustrated is the Petén tropical forest in the so-called Maya lowland, containing, in addition to a significant ecological and biodiversity heritage, one of the most important archaeological testimony of the ancient Maya civilization, spread in the tropical forest. The use of increasingly sophisticated sensors makes it possible to have a large amount of high-resolution and accurate data. That allows post-processing of DEMs that are very useful for archaeological and geographical investigation. With this work, we want to involve the Universities that collaborate to propose the research results to wider projects concerning the empowerment of local organizations. These organizations take care of the site's maintenance or have them in concession. The research project will help them in the processes of decisions concerning the new potential sites detection and the preservation of those already excavated by a series of environmental and anthropogenic threats, which archaeologists have repeatedly denounced in their excavation campaigns. That would also greatly help increase the knowledge, use, and safety of the sites, some of which are impenetrable due to the presence of dense vegetation that hides the archaeological remains. However, the Lidar penetrates through the vegetation through its lasers in our case with three pulses with FOV of 70 °. It is thus possible to obtain a DEM that gives us the topography of the places, subtracting the ground surface from the height of the canopy and shrubs. The most complex process is interpreting these data, which could give concrete indications as misleading on the presence or absence of archaeological remains. Therefore, it is essential to use not only the parameters from lidar data for the different heights of the sites overflown but also a whole series of parameters that allow us to differentiate the different reflectance values and therefore hypothesize the presence or absence of an archaeological vestige. In the research, we document other possible applications useful for the geographic context investigated. Thick layers of earth and vegetation cover the pyramids, which continuously decay and grow back into the foliage component. This type of vegetation is, in fact, protection for the pyramids; it protects them from the erosion of the rains but at the same time becomes a biological and mechanical degradation factor. Many local scholars have asked themselves about the problem of vegetation management, also recognizing that stealing the tons of earth that cover some pyramids would involve the enormous expenditure on the part of the government. With the Lidar, we can calculate the volume of vegetation that covers the pyramids, thus giving indications on where and when to intervene. Continuous flights could monitor the environmental conditions in which the archaeological remains exist, preserving these places, which are so fragile and strong at the same time, from erosion and other ecological and anthropogenic threats. The research is conducted by two universities, as part of the Ph.D. in Spatial Archeology, and a German Agency that will provide the use of the drone that we will describe in the presentation and the expertise to pilot it. The poster will indicate the main technical Lidar parameters that distinguish the photogrammetric mission thus planned in Guatemala and the expected results.
Carolina Collaro