Detection of Maya Ruins by LiDAR: Applications, Case Study, and Issues

  • Arlen F. ChaseEmail author
  • Diane Z. Chase
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 16)


The study of ancient Mesoamerican landscapes and settlement has been significantly impacted in a positive way through the application of LiDAR (light detection and ranging). LiDAR has permitted the recovery of ground data from huge regional areas that are currently under a tropical canopy: the use of traditional methods of survey and mapping could never have resulted in the detailed data that are available through LiDAR. The analyses of LiDAR data are a conjunctive task that involves archaeologists with physicists and computer scientists. This interdisciplinary effort is producing new results and interpretations for all fields, but has also raised issues that need resolution, particularly involving data storage and distribution. LiDAR has already transformed the way in which Mesoamerican settlement survey is done, and future collection of LiDAR data will benefit Mesoamerica through helping to preserve a landscape of the past.


LiDAR Settlement archaeology Landscape archaeology Maya Mesoamerica 



The authors thank the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping for working with us in the collection of quality LiDAR data, and particularly Juan Fernandez-Diaz. The original 2009 LiDAR was funded by a NASA Grant NNX08AM11G and the UCF-UF Space Research Initiative (John Weishampel, PI; Arlen and Diane Chase, Co-PIs). The 2013 LiDAR was collected as a result of a grant from the Alphawood Foundation channeled through the University of Central Florida for the Western Belize Archaeological Consortium (Arlen Chase, Diane Chase, Jaime Awe, John Weishampel, Gyles Iannone, Holley Moyes, Jason Yaeger, and M. Kathryn Brown). The Belize Institute of Archaeology was also particularly helpful in ensuring that the LiDAR campaigns were successful.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.Office of the Executive Vice President and ProvostUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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