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[dinosaur] Digital mapping of dinosaurian tracksites in Lower Cretaceous Broome Sandstone of Australia (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Anthony Romilio, Jorg M. Hacker, Robert Zlot, George Poropat, Michael Bosse & Steven W. Salisbury (2017)
A multidisciplinary approach to digital mapping of dinosaurian tracksites in the Lower Cretaceous (Valanginian–Barremian) Broome Sandstone of the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia. 
PeerJ 5:e3013
doi:  https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3013

The abundant dinosaurian tracksites of the Lower Cretaceous (Valanginian–Barremian) Broome Sandstone of the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia, form an important part of the West Kimberley National Heritage Place. Previous attempts to document these tracksites using traditional mapping techniques (e.g., surface overlays, transects and gridlines combined with conventional photography) have been hindered by the non-trivial challenges associated with working in this area, including, but not limited to: (1) the remoteness of many of the tracksites; (2) the occurrence of the majority of the tracksites in the intertidal zone; (3) the size and complexity of many of the tracksites, with some extending over several square kilometres. Using the historically significant and well-known dinosaurian tracksites at Minyirr (Gantheaume Point), we show how these issues can be overcome through the use of an integrated array of remote sensing tools. A combination of high-resolution aerial photography with both manned and unmanned aircraft, airborne and handheld high-resolution lidar imaging and handheld photography enabled the collection of large amounts of digital data from which 3D models of the tracksites at varying resolutions were constructed. The acquired data encompasses a very broad scale, from the sub-millimetre level that details individual tracks, to the multiple-kilometre level, which encompasses discontinuous tracksite exposures and large swathes of coastline. The former are useful for detailed ichnological work, while the latter are being employed to better understand the stratigraphic and temporal relationship between tracksites in a broader geological and palaeoecological context. These approaches and the data they can generate now provide a means through which digital conservation and temporal monitoring of the Dampier Peninsula’s dinosaurian tracksites can occur. As plans for the on-going management of the tracks in this area progress, analysis of the 3D data and 3D visualization will also likely provide an important means through which the broader public can experience these spectacular National Heritage listed landscapes.