GeoWorld November 2012

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NEWSLINK 3-D Maps Emerging from Post-Hurricane Data Project A terrestrial LIDAR scan shows the I-510 bridge in New Orleans just three days after Hurricane Isaac made landfall. USGS scientists are using such imagery to produce 3-D maps that could aid storm planning and assessment. 6 G E O W O R L D / N O V E M B E R 2 O 1 2 USGS Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) applied a new technology to map urban flooding in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near New Orleans in August 2012. Terrestrial LIDAR (T-LIDAR) allowed USGS scientists to collect highly detailed information in areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, where the hurricane's impact was most severe. Using a portable T-LIDAR instrument, scientists were able to generate 3-D maps of buildings, dams, levees and other structures while also showing areas of storm damage. The instrument can quickly collect millions of topographic data points in a full 360-degree view, producing accurate topographic information and map areas at a range of up to twothirds of a mile. USGS is using information from the post-Isaac project to develop 3-D models of streets and structures as well as floodwater levels reached during the storm and current water levels—ultimately building an interactive 3-D flood-inundation map to help identify areas where flooding potential would be greatest during future storms. The map also should help determine the extent of wind and flood damage from Hurricane Isaac. "If a picture paints a thousand words, a T-LIDAR scan paints several million words to capture the fleeting aftermath of a hurricane's impact," said Marcia McNutt, USGS director. "The ability to rapidly preserve for posterity a quantifiable, three-dimensional representation of storm damage is going to open the doors for new flood-hazard science." T-LIDAR works by effectively looking sideways from ground level to capture vertical details such as water levels—details that airborne LIDAR can't capture. The recent USGS work involved a portable tripod-mounted instrument and a truck-mounted system, with the truck-mounted device collecting information in a more continuous manner. "Using terrestrial LIDAR in this fashion has the possibility of helping us quickly assess high-water marks, current water levels and, to some degree, flood damage, in a very short time," said Athena Clark, director of the USGS Alabama Water Science Center. "We're always looking for better, more-efficient and costeffective ways of advancing the science, and this technology has some great possibilities." Research Tool Puts Old Geology Maps to New Use Technical information products provider Elsevier is collaborating with the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) to include thousands of maps from the society's Economic Geology journal in Elsevier's Geofacets research tool. The move should make "hard to find" scientific maps more readily available for Geofacets users working in metals exploration, mining, and oil and gas industries. By the beginning of 2013, the joint venture should add nearly 15,000 maps to the Geofacets collection, with maps collated during the last 107 years from SEG's journal. The deal will bring the tool's total number of maps to more than 240,000. "A significant part of SEG's mission is to disseminate geological information and aid those working in exploration, mineral-resource appraisal, mining and metal extraction," said Brian Hoal, executive director at SEG. "Collaborating with Elsevier to make our maps and information much easier to discover, and therefore easier to apply to their work, will help geoscientists combat specific industry challenges such as low drilling-success rates and the increasing difficulty in finding new orebodies." Government Special Issue

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