Think you need a shovel to dig into Colorado’s distant past?
Try a laser.
Earlier this year, Assistant Professor Gerardo Gutierrez and his students in the Department of Anthropology deployed terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)—a type of remote sensing technology—at Fort Vasquez, a 19th-century trading post near Platteville, Colorado. LiDAR uses a specialized instrument to create an interactive 3D rendering of nearby structures, terrain, and other topographical features hidden to the naked eye. “LiDAR reveals things in the landscape that don’t match, and that provides us with historical clues,” says Gutierrez. It also helps researchers understand how to preserve vulnerable sites. This futuristic imaging is just the beginning for Integrated Remote and In Situ Sensing (IRISS) and Project Map, components of CU Boulder’s multi-year Grand Challenge initiative. Gutierrez and his students have already expanded their mapping efforts to other areas of the state, including Chimney Rock National Monument in southwestern Colorado.