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Drone Use to Scout Sites


patelinho7

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Has anyone tried using a drone on fossil expeditions? I pinpointed a location in a small bit of woods between a highway and a shopping center that may have exposed formation but I’m not sure what’s actually there. It’s quite summery here in VA, and the bugs and snakes are out to get us! It would be unwise to go traipsing through unfamiliar woods. I suddenly had the idea that it would be great in general to use a drone to scout out an area before entering. I wondered if anyone has tried it. Feel free to leave your thoughts on this!

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This idea has come up a number of times.  Some people think it would be a good tool, but personally, I can't see it producing anything that you cant tell from satellite images.  What will you see from the drone camera?  formation? exposure? you dont need a drone for that.  Fossils?  How big are those fossils going to have to be to be realized from the camera?  How close can you fly it to the exposure for detailed looks (without crashing)?  How many crashes can you afford to repair?  What if the crash leaves it on a slope too steep to retrieve? I've spent a lot of time scouting for fossil exposure and I;ve only seen one site that had anything visible from more than head-height (and that was a large bone-bed debris field).  And it could have easily just been a layer of rocks until you actually got on the site.

 

Go explore on foot.  Wear bug spray.  Wear snake gators, long pants, long shirt, and wide hat. Carry a brush beater stick. You'll see 1000 times more with your own eyes.  Some times its seeing those super tiny common fossils on the surface that leads you to sit down and look closer and then find the good stuff hiding there.

Edited by hadrosauridae
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"There is no shortage of fossils. There is only a shortage of paleontologists to study them." - Larry Martin

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I am very much an amateur in this field, so take my input with a grain of salt, but for the most part I have to agree with what @hadrosauridae said. The grass does get very long at this time of year and traipsing around in the woods among hordes of thorny creepers isn't all too fun if the site turns out to be a dud, but I do feel that checking out an exposure yourself is probably the best way to go. As has been mentioned you'll get a firsthand look at whatever rock layers may be exposed which would be most helpful in identifying whether a fossiliferous formation is present. That being said, I don't think that scouting with a drone would be a bad idea if you happen to have experience flying a drone and you have decent camera resolution. If you can manage to maneuver into the woods and get close enough to the area where you think the formation is exposed you might be able to get an idea on whether the layers you are searching for are exposed (I would imagine that it could be somewhat similar to prospecting possible road cuts on Google Maps Streetview if you are able to get decently good shots). 

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  • 5 months later...

I've desperately wanted to use a drone for capturing outcroppings, etc. But the other issue is respecting property laws and public lands laws. There are often restrictions on the flight of drones that end up making it too much of a pain in the to handle.

 

The only value I see to a drone is getting photos from the air of outcroppings...

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  • 8 months later...

I’ve tried it, in theory it seems like a good idea but in practice it’s a pretty useless time sink.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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On 10/21/2023 at 3:31 PM, NickG said:

I've desperately wanted to use a drone for capturing outcroppings, etc. But the other issue is respecting property laws and public lands laws. There are often restrictions on the flight of drones that end up making it too much of a pain in the to handle.

 

The only value I see to a drone is getting photos from the air of outcroppings...

 

Depending on the setup you could also get 3d scans. Lidar sensors are available in some iPhone versions.

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0012825222000538?via%3Dihub

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