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Measuring the Carolina Bays Using Archetype Template Overlays on the Google Earth Virtual Globe; Planform Metrics for 25,000 Bays Extracted from LiDAR and Satellite Imagery

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Abstract

Aerial photographs of Carolina bays taken in the 1930's sparked the initial research into their geomorphology. Satellite Imagery available today through the Google Earth Virtual Globe facility expands the regions available for interrogation, but reveal only part of their unique planforms. Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs), using Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing data, accentuate the visual presentation of these aligned ovoid shallow basins by emphasizing their robust circumpheral rims. To support a geospatial survey of Carolina bay landforms in the continental USA, 400,000 km2 of hsv-shaded DEMs were created as KML-JPEG tile sets. A majority of these DEMs were generated with LiDAR-derived data. We demonstrate the tile generation process and their integration into Google Earth, where the DEMs augment available photographic imagery for the visualization of bay planforms. While the generic Carolina bay planform is considered oval, we document subtle regional variations. Using a small set of empirically derived planform shapes, we created corresponding Google Earth overlay templates. We demonstrate the analysis of an individual Carolina bay by placing an appropriate overlay onto the virtually globe, then orientating, sizing and rotating it by edit handles such that it satisfactorily represents the bay's rim. The resulting overlay data element is extracted from Google Earth's object directory and programmatically processed to generate metrics such as geographic location, elevation, major and minor axis and inferred orientation. Utilizing a virtual globe facility for data capture may result in higher quality data compared to methods that reference flat maps, where geospatial shape and orientation of the bays could be skewed and distorted in the orthographic projection process. Using the methodology described, we have measured over 25k distinct Carolina bays. We discuss the Google Fusion geospatial data repository facility, through which these data have been assembled and made web-accessible to other researchers. Preliminary findings from the survey are discussed, such as how bay surface area, eccentricity and orientation vary across ~800 1/4° × 1/4° grid elements. Future work includes measuring 25k additional bays, as well as interrogation of the orientation data to identify any possible systematic geospatial relationships.
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Supplementary resource (1)

Chapter
This unusual book, published to honor the late iconoclast and geologist extraordinaire Warren Bell Hamilton, comprises a diverse, cross-disciplinary collection of bold new ideas in Earth and planetary science. Some chapters audaciously point out all-too-obvious deficits in prevailing theories. Other ideas are embryonic and in need of testing and still others are downright outrageous. Some are doubtless right and others likely wrong. See if you can tell which is which. See if your students can tell which is which. This unique book is a rich resource for researchers at all levels looking for interesting, unusual, and off-beat ideas to investigate or set as student projects.
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