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GIS Under the Rim

Summary

Project: Bryce Canyon GIS Under the Rim

Principal Investigator: David Maxwell

Funding Type: Federal

Funding Source: National Park Service

Funding Amount: $98,700

College: Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

Department: Physical Science

SUU’s GIS lab technicians are creating a digital treasure map of Bryce Canyon National Park. The set of interactive maps overlaid one on top of the other forms a richly detailed spatial account of the archeological sites within the canyon.

GIS is an acronym meaning “geographic information systems.” By visually representing data, it makes it easier for analysts to understand patterns and relationships of geospatial information. Over the last five years GIS & GPS Lab Director David Maxwell has worked with the National Park Service, student interns and other collaborating professors to create the now nearly complete document that will provide a much faster and more finely detailed reference for archaeological technicians and contractors than the hard copy of the past.

“My first priority is giving students as much experience as possible,” Maxwell said from the GIS Lab on campus. Numerous student interns were employed during the project, including a geology student named Christine Hafen who designed a week-long teaching series on how to use the GIS software for NPS employees at Bryce National Park. She was able to use this course as her GIS certificate capstone project.

The last phase of the project will be a survey conducted by Maxwell and a team of students of the cabins remaining around the old lodge in Bryce Canyon, which will then be incorporated into the digital landscape of the maps. Because archeological sites are often extremely delicate, the maps and accompanying documents will remain undisclosed to the general public.

Bryce Canyon National Park