Virginia's Use of Remote Sensing in the Preliminary Aerial Survey--Highway Planning Stage

Report No: 71-R19

Published in 1972

About the report:

The purpose of the study was to determine whether infrared technology could be used in Virginia to delineate areas with soils having a high moisture content. The study was conducted in cooperation with the FHWA, and personnel of the University of Michigan were engaged as consultants for the remote sensing flights. Located in Augusta County, Virginia, the study area is mapped geologically, topographically, and pedologically and is heavily farmed and 80 percent nonforested. Data were collected with a multisensor array, including cameras and multispectral sensors. The electromagnetic spectrum was sensed from the violet through the far infrared. Ground truth in the form of radiometer and thermometer readings and color photographs was taken at the time of the flights. The day and night sensed infrared data and the various types of photographs were interpreted for information about features associated with surface moisture. Attention was also given to subsurface cavities. It was concluded that: (1) Nighttime thermal infrared imagery is the best technique for the remote detection of surface water; (2) photographs and daytime and nighttime thermal infrared imagery can be used collectively to detect and delineate high moisture content soils; and (3) photographs and daytime and nighttime thermal infrared imagery, used collectively, also have great potential for the location of subsurface cavities. It was recommended that (1) A trial use of this technology be made on a proposed highway location in a troublesome soil area; (2) verification of the existence of subsurface cavities suggested by the interpretation of the data be sought; and (3) the Virginia Highway Research Council should keep abreast of the computer analysis of the data being made by the FHWA personnel.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

David F. Noble

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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