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Suchascenicworld

Has Anyone Used GIS and Remote Sensing to aid in fossil hunting?

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Suchascenicworld

Hello everyone!

 

Fossil hunting is massive hobby of mine and I am trying to find new localities (that are of course, legal). I have a background in GIS and Spatial Analyses (albeit, working on completely different things!) and was thinking about using my geo-spatial skills to narrow down a few areas. In so far, I have layers dedicated to streams, bedrock, and DEM but I was curious if others have used GIS and remote sensing to aid in fossil hunting, and if so, are there any specific layers  or techniques that you find to be particularly useful when searching for areas that may have fossils? Thank you! 

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FranzBernhard

DEM = Digital Elevation Model = Airborne Laser Scan = LIDAR?

 

I am using a combination of DEM / aerial photographs / topo maps / geological maps / sometimes historic maps or mine plans.

Here is an example of an overgrown, fossiliferous stone heap, stones were collected from the former nearby fields, now meadows. Farmer "Klöckl" was selling fossils in the 1960ies, he collected them from his fields. Some ended on the stone heap, fortunately. 

Everything is freely available in Styria, Austria, but not at the best resolution, though. But its usually good enough. Beside all this fancy techniques, ground work is still needed to confirm everything. And then - a big old quarry may yield nothing, some rocks just lying around in the nearby forest may be highly fossiliferrous. 

Franz Bernhard

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LabRatKing
14 hours ago, Suchascenicworld said:

Hello everyone!

 

Fossil hunting is massive hobby of mine and I am trying to find new localities (that are of course, legal). I have a background in GIS and Spatial Analyses (albeit, working on completely different things!) and was thinking about using my geo-spatial skills to narrow down a few areas. In so far, I have layers dedicated to streams, bedrock, and DEM but I was curious if others have used GIS and remote sensing to aid in fossil hunting, and if so, are there any specific layers  or techniques that you find to be particularly useful when searching for areas that may have fossils? Thank you! 

I use a few GIS  apps constantly...then again, I do a lot of field biology work too, and in the past worked in limnology...so various GIS based systems are pretty much the new standard.

 

It has pros and cons though. If you have access to the appropriate GIS software it is excellent for logging new sites in addition to working with recent geologic survey data. The downside is that very little historical data is compatible. So for instance, if you are digging through a big pile of journal articles about a specific site, all of which predate 2000, you are going to deal with a mish-mash of GPS, traditional longitude and latitude, decimal long and lat, and over a half dozen of various survey and land use mapping data systems.

 

To be perfectly honest however, I overall prefer good old fashioned degrees-minutes-seconds and a Brunton pocket transit (and sometimes a map compass) and some topo maps in the field. In 2018 and 2019 I tried planning excursions in the field using both methods. In 2018 I was attempting to predict locations for seasonal wetlands. In '19 I was tracking down remote and poorly documented fossil sites. To be honest, I had better luck with geologic surveys and topos than I did with the digital hybrids. Six of the Seven elusive "Cowboy Pass" ammonite sites did not show at all on the digital record but one old style geosurvey map from 1989 showed that in fact there is a total of 28 sites if you know where to look and are willing to do some serious overland hiking.

 

Begrudgingly I have been forced to use decimal coordinates in recent years as the "smart" phone generation doesn't know how to navigate or find anything otherwise...and few folks realize they can chose freely between coordinate types in any app worth using. I have sent more than a few students back in the field to re-log their location data because they thought a Google or Apple maps pin was sufficient.

 

In the field, dependence on digital methods is a sure-fire way to have issues. They are only good till the batteries die.

 

Then again, perhaps I'm just old and grouchy...:zzzzscratchchin:

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jpc
1 hour ago, LabRatKing said:

 

 

In the field, dependence on digital methods is a sure-fire way to have issues. They are only good till the batteries die.

 

Then again, perhaps I'm just old and grouchy...:zzzzscratchchin:

Me too, on the old and grouchy thing.  But I also carry two GPSes and two sets of batteries... AND the topo map.  

 

As for GIS stuff, the closest I get is Google Earth and Google Maps.  Very useful.

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LabRatKing
39 minutes ago, jpc said:

Me too, on the old and grouchy thing.  But I also carry two GPSes and two sets of batteries... AND the topo map.  

 

As for GIS stuff, the closest I get is Google Earth and Google Maps.  Vert uesful.

My wife made me get one of those combo GPS navigator/emergency beacon thingies, but I don't trust it. I think she did this because she can't comprehend compasses and transits. Now I have to lug around a folding solar cell and emergency USB battery block. That is a whiskey bottle worth of weight...

 

I wish every state in the US had  these for research and planning purposes:

https://blm-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6be0174d44f04f1c853197cadcfa89f0

https://geology.utah.gov/apps/intgeomap/

It is the best of GIS functions, though sorely lacking on personal functions like pinning locations and only uses one coordinate system.

Was able to use the BLM map with the geo survey map and plan my entire 2021 trip in a week thanks to this bad boy. Last year I did it the old fashioned way and it took four months

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ParkerPaleo

In the late 90's, we used a GPR to map/prospect a sauropod quarry.  It told us there was bone everywhere.  We removed 3 camarasaurus supremus, a brachiosaur, a barosaurus, and an allosaur from that quarry.  The entire layer was bone...  which the GPR detected, but not sure the GPR helped any.  Not a very controlled test when so much comes out of a single hill.

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LabRatKing
4 hours ago, ParkerPaleo said:

In the late 90's, we used a GPR to map/prospect a sauropod quarry.  It told us there was bone everywhere.  We removed 3 camarasaurus supremus, a brachiosaur, a barosaurus, and an allosaur from that quarry.  The entire layer was bone...  which the GPR detected, but not sure the GPR helped any.  Not a very controlled test when so much comes out of a single hill.

I was lucky enough to get to play with a GPR (ground penetrating radar for those unfamiliar) around that time period at an archeology dig I weaseled my way into by volunteering to do any and all ^%$#work at first.

 

It was a beast, but did some cool stuff. These units have come a long way in the last 30 years however and just one person can map an entire site solo with instant results. These new models have direct upload and overlay to GIS apps which I imagine is a dino hunters dream. With the advent of high resolution, low power radar now, I expect GPR will be like xray specs very soon.

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ParkerPaleo

That'd be interesting to see/play with.  We had to take our data back to the university to be processed so we had excavated the first sauropod before we had results from the GPR.  Since our field pings said there was bone everywhere, we thought it was a failure.  Little did we know we found a bone bed.

 

If only I liked dinosaurs enough to dig them again :)  Excavating a sauropod is alot more work than I want these days.

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LabRatKing

Aye, these days, one dude walks the grid with the lawnmower sized unit and then just plugs in his smartphone/tablet/laptop- near instant results.

Rumor has it that a certain military, helicopter based GPR will have a civilian model in the near future, meaning results in minutes rather than hours...but I know nothing and you didn't hear it from me...:default_rofl:

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ParkerPaleo

If it can detect White River microfauna, I'm in!

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Suchascenicworld

Thank you so much! 

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Runner64

I have used GIS before, there might be some useful geological shapefiles publicly available through the USGS or EPA.

 

Although I do think a topographic map might be a bit easier and may accomplish the same task.

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