Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Geodetic imaging: A new tool for Mesoamerican archaeology



On 15 May 2012, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo convened a press conference to announce that researchers mapping areas of the Mosquitia region of Honduras, using airborne light detection and ranging (lidar), had discovered what appeared to be an extensive complex of archaeological ruins hidden beneath the dense canopy of rain forest that shrouds the terrain [UTL Scientific, LLC, 2012]. President Lobo released preliminary images of the ruins derived from the airborne lidar observations (Figure 1a) but withheld information about their precise location so that measures could be taken to protect and preserve this newly discovered cultural heritage. The coordinates of the ruins, determined from the lidar observations with an accuracy of a few decimeters, will enable archaeological teams to use the Global Positioning System to navigate through the dense forest directly to features of interest.