New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Applications of UAS Multispectral Imagery in the Earth and Environmental Sciences - Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences Laboratory

Michael S. Petronis1, Joesph P. Zebrowski1, Marine S. Foucher1 and Jennifer Lindline1

1New Mexico Highlands University, Environmental Geology / Natural Resource Management Dept, Ivan Hilton Science Center, NMHU, Las Vegas, NM, 87701, USA,

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Figure 1. Representative results from recent NMHU student and faculty applications of UAS surveying using the Wingtra and Mavic 3. A) NIR composite image of fluvial knickpoint monitoring. B) NIR and RGB of NMHU campus. C) NIR overlain on UAS acquired digital surface model. D) Mavic 3 enterprise multispectral and RGB camera data. E) NIR and panchromatic images. F) Wingtra RGB and NIR images.

The Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences Laboratory (GAINS lab) is the geospatial technology resource center at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) that is managed by the Natural Resources Management Department. The lab supports instruction in geographic information science and technologies, along with research applications of geospatial technologies. The lab also provides technical assistance to individuals and groups seeking to incorporate geospatial information into their work. Recently, the GAINS lab was awarded a $162,500 grant from the National Science Foundation - Instrumentation and Facilities program to advance the programs' field surveying capabilities. Here, we report on new Uncrewed aerial system (UAS) applications and ongoing research projects utilizing the new airborne vehicles available at the GAINS laboratory. UAS surveying and mapping provide shape, size, spatial location, and properties of natural geographic features or human-made structures, infrastructure, and facilities on the Earth's surface and near surface. UAS data are often used in land use planning, land resources, geological exploration, water resource development, geologic mapping, conservancy, environmental monitoring, agriculture, transportation, and many other fields. We present a few recent UAS examples from NMHU students, staff, and faculty that include multispectral and RGB imagery of a historic cultural site, an eroded Pliocene volcano, riparian vegetations and fluvial deposits, site monitoring, and many other projects that demonstrate the depth and breadth of UAS imagery applied to Earth systems. The NMHU GAINS team deploys two drone types, both with RGB and multispectral capabilities. The WingtraOne survey-grade UAS is a fixed-wing, vertical take-off drone that provides high precision (<2 cm), RGB and multiple-spectral mapping of large areas using either a full-frame, RGB, 42 MP Sony RX1R II camera or a MicaSense RedEdge sensor that combines a panchromatic sensor with five narrow bands (B,G,R,Re,NIR). The DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise quadcopters provide similar mapping precision and multispectral imagery with the added benefit that their small size allows for high resolution surveys in flight-restricted areas not accessible by a fix-winged aircraft. The UAS are equipped with multi-frequency PPK GNSS receivers, on-board GNSS system, or located with RTK base station positioning control. The new equipment compliments the existing survey gear and supports the GIS technologies course offerings and research to enhance our students’ learning environment; builds GIS proficiencies in the community; and makes geospatial data collection available to interested students, faculty, and community members.


uncrewed areal systems, multi spectral, remote sensing

pp. 63-64

2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800