The 2018 eruption of the Kīlauea volcano in the Hawaiian islands is historically unprecedented in many ways, with explosions and repetitive large-scale collapse events at the volcano’s summit and voluminous lava output in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) that has strongly impacted communities in the lower district of Puna. Additionally, it marks the Federal Government’s first UAS response to a volcanic eruption.
Accurate assessment of ongoing land subsidence and ground failure requires periodic imaging of the ground surface and reconstruction of topographic changes over multiple timescales. The USGS monitors active land-surface deformation of playas occupying Red Pass and Bicycle Basins in the Mojave Desert to evaluate the influence of tectonic stress, fault barriers to groundwater flow, and declining groundwater levels due to pumping in nearby wells.
In 2017, the National Park Service approached the USGS National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office to acquire geospatial data in support of developing a flood management plan for the Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into the largest military post on the northern plains and eventually became part of the National Park System in 1938.
New approaches to habitat characterization are needed to address questions about ecosystems effectively and cost-efficiently, particularly in montane ecosystems where rapid changes in community assemblages have coincided with recent warming trends. Talus provides unique and essential habitat for several montane species but is inadequately mapped to support studies of ecosystem dynamics.
The lack of Pacific Islands topographic (land elevation) and bathymetric (water depth) information led Department of the Interior (DOI) researchers to use advanced remote sensing technologies to develop a topobathymetric digital elevation model (TBDEM) for Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. With a maximum natural elevation of only 3 meters (m), Majuro Atoll is extremely vulnerable to changes in sea level, tsunamis, storm surge, and coastal flooding.
Geographers and remote sensing specialists at OSMRE use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS; drones) to capture images and create mathematically correct 2D and 3D models of active and abandoned coal mining sites and features.
The OSMRE Western Region worked with the State of Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining to monitor reclamation efforts at Cottonwood-Wilberg Mine in Emery County, Utah, using remote sensing change detection of historical photography and land use records. OSMRE purchased high-resolution lidar and orthophotography from Juniper Unmanned of the site before major earthw
In the United States alone, there are currently over 100,000 miles of canal and levee embankments and approximately 79,000 earthen dams on the national inventory list. Many of these structures are reaching or have surpassed their initial design life.
Dam safety is an ongoing concern for the BOR. In the interests of maintaining modern dam safety monitoring, BOR has started to investigate the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) to improve safety, reduce costs, and increase effectiveness.
In summer 2017, the BLM National Operations Center (NOC) participated in a BLM Washington, D.C., Office pilot program to use imagery from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to characterize important cultural, archaeological, and paleontological sites on BLM land. As part of this program, the BLM NOC spent a week in June 2017 at the Farmington Field Office (FFO), Farmi