Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Structure from Motion teaching resources for undergraduate field education courses Abstract


  • Fieldwork is an integral part of the geosciences and there is a longstanding tradition of teaching field methods as part of the undergraduate curriculum. As new technology changes the ways in which we scientifically examine the Earth, and as workforce development demands evolve, there is growing interest in introducing these new technologies into field education courses. In collaboration with field education instructors, UNAVCO, the National Science Foundation’s geodetic facility, has developed a module of teaching resources to integrate terrestrial lidar scanning into field courses. An NSF facility is well positioned to develop scalable resources that can then be distributed or adapted for broader implementation. The modules can also be accomplished using Structure from Motion methods in place of lidar scanning. Modules goals are for students to be able to: (A) design and conduct a complex TLS survey to address a geologic research question and (B) articulate the societal impetus for answering these research questions and identify why TLS is the appropriate method in some circumstances. The module is comprised of five units: (1) Introduction to survey design, (2) Stratigraphic section analysis, (3) Fault scarp analysis, (4) Geomorphic change detection, (5) Student-led survey design summative assessment. The modules, apart from the Introduction, are independent, thus select modules can be employed in a given field setting. Prototype module materials were developed from the last five years of UNAVCO support of undergraduate field courses. The current versions of the modules were tested in summer 2015 at the Indiana University and University of Michigan field camps. Results show that the majority of students are able to achieve the intended learning goals. Module materials are available on the UNAVCO Education and Community Engagement website.

publication date

  • 2015

presented at event