Of the fifteen VIPs that were tested, all could be accomplished using remote sensing and GIS techniques to support the inspection process with the exception of VIP 12 – Impounding Structures Identification. There was partial success with VIP 12 in that the impounding structures can be identified and measured with imagery. But at this time, these are the only reliable applications that can be conducted for impoundments. The following is a summary of the results for each VIP:
- VIPs 1 and 2 – Mining within a permit boundary or bonded area can be readily accomplished with a visual inspection of the permit boundary overlaid on an image.
- VIP 3 – Water Diversion Location and Extent is also simple procedure using a Measure Tool of the diversion feature on the image.
- VIP 4 – Acid/Toxic Drainage (AMD) and Seeps Identification uses a feature extraction image processing technique to “train” on a known AMD site on the image and the software program finds and maps other like areas on the image.
- VIP 5 – Contemporaneous Reclamation – Backfilling and Grading the Spoil, was accomplished using a straightforward GIS measure tool on an image.
- VIP 6 -10 – Postmining Topography was the general performance standard with six associated performance standards and one added benefits. Of these standards, Elevation Contours can be provided to the inspector by a GIS/Remote Sensing (RS) Specialist, and from the DSM that is provided along with the Elevation Contours map, Slope Angle, Slope Shape (Curvature), Slope Length and Aspect (Slope Direction) maps can be readily generated by an inspector using simple functions in ArcGIS. Viewshed Analysis and Volumetrics are added benefits to the inspector and can be provided to the inspector by a GIS/RS Specialist when requested.
- VIP 11 – Drainage Reconstruction will most likely require assistance the first time around from a GIS/RS Specialist, and an inspector can follow the Field User Guide following the initial instruction.
- VIP 12 - Impounding Structures Identification was partially successful. VIP 12 uses a feature extraction image processing technique to “train” on a known impoundment in the image and the software program finds and maps other like areas on the image. Once the impoundments are mapped, area calculations can be conducted.
- VIP 13 – Distance Prohibition Validation is done with a technique of drawing the feature (in this case a road) on the image and running a GIS Buffer function to determine the distance from the feature.
- VIP 14-15– the general category of Revegetation has six specific performance standards and added benefits associated with it. Vegetation Establishment and Vegetation Cover can be accomplished following the Field User Guide and some assistance from a GIS/RS Specialist. Vegetation Community Types as well as Vegetation Change over Time are not performance standards but are added benefits from the technology that can be provided to the inspector by a GIS/RS Specialist if requested. The Vegetation Production (biomass) was not attempted as there was not adequate field sampling to support the application. The Density (stems/acre) VIP cannot be accomplished with the imagery that was used in the project.
Overall, of the 23 applications that were tested (including VIPs and added benefits), only 1.5 of those could not be accomplished with satellite imagery; a portion of VIP 12 requirements and part of VIP 10, the Revegetation – Density (stems/acre) requirement. However, 95 percent of those applications tested were successful.
In FY 2012, OSM plans to continue work on this Pilot Project, by conducting outreach and technology transfer by creating a Virtual Inspection Field Users Guide. This guide will be a “how-to” guide with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct the required GIS analysis for each of the fifteen VIPs. In addition a Cost Benefit Analysis will be conducted to quantify the tangible and identify the intangible benefits of using remote sensing technology for evaluating specific performance standards (VIPs) in the inspection process.