Drone mapping: activity completed – Polarquest 2021

After the last aerial survey over the Sallyhamna area in the afternoon of August 16th, Polarquest2021 UAV-based observation campaign has completed its activities. Preliminary data processing has started onboard S/Y Best Explorer as the boat is heading to its next leg at Ny-Ålesund scientific station. The drone mapping was specifically focused on expeditive geographical observations of relevant sites in Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet, to provide information regarding different kinds of phenomena. Four sites were surveyed by GREAL/FTD tethered drone, yielding over 2000 images in the visible light (in Signehamna, Hansøya, Lågøya, Bockfjorden) and thermal infrared (Jotunkjeldene); a fifth survey was conducted by technical coordinator Michael Struik using a free-flying DJI Mavic mini drone over the Sallyhamna archaeological site. All surveys provided data for image-based modeling; final processing and analysis will take place at the European University of Rome (Italy) and the University of Gdansk (Poland) in the next months.  

The two missions over archaeological sites were conducted for geo-history-related scientific research purposes and to provide information regarding the current status of the areas for long-term monitoring. The flights over Hansøya and Lågøya were aimed to obtain sample-maps of the accumulation of driftwood and macroplastics on specific target sites of the shores of the two islands. Considering their different locations in the region, in particular their shore exposition, it is expected that the Hansøya flights will also provide valuable data about the geological character of the island and will produce a partial high-detail rendering of its topography.

The Bockfjorden flights allowed for a local mapping of two warm-water springs (~24°C) in the Jotunkjeldene area, associating visible-light images with thermal infrared frames, towards a more comprehensive description of this rare example of geothermal activity in Svalbard. The activity was a follow-up of a previous test-survey carried out during Polarquest2018. The survey was made possible by the use of a special drone configuration prepared by FlyToDiscover (Italy) upon GREAL’s specifications. High-detail, visible light and thermal infrared maps of the warm springs area will be prepared by Prof. Gianluca Casagrande at the European University of Rome and will be associated to a geological description of the area developed by Dr. Dominik Palgan (University of Gdansk).

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