Mapping and measuring aeolian sand dunes with photogrammetry and LiDAR from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and multispectral satellite imagery on the Paria Plateau, AZ, USA

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Abstract

The Paria Plateau is a potentially important but relatively unstudied aeolian sand source area in the Grand Canyon region of Arizona, USA. This study used unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - based LiDAR and structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry to produce high-resolution topographic models of aeolian dunes on the plateau. We combined the dune topography data with a high-resolution satellite image maximum likelihood classification (producer's accuracy = 87.2%) to quantify potential aeolian sand source areas across the 958 km2 plateau. We mapped all the unvegetated active aeolian dunes on the plateau and estimate they contain 24 Tg of sand, and could, therefore, be a proportionately important regional sand source considering the annual sand loads of the downwind Paria River at its confluence with the Colorado River are generally <1 Tg. The results and data from this study could be useful for future investigations that wish to explicitly link aeolian sand on the Paria Plateau to downwind sediment dynamics in the region. The methodology for UAV and satellite remote sensing that we demonstrate could be applied to quantify sand at large geographic extents in other aeolian environments around the world.

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Solazzo, D., Sankey, J. B., Sankey, T. T., & Munson, S. M. (2018). Mapping and measuring aeolian sand dunes with photogrammetry and LiDAR from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and multispectral satellite imagery on the Paria Plateau, AZ, USA. Geomorphology, 319, 174–185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.07.023

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