February 2010 Meeting

Monday, February 8, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L. Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex


Geology with a Thermal Imager

Craig J. Hardgrove
University of Tennessee, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Knoxville, Tennessee

For the past few years we have been studying alluvial fans in the desert southwest to determine what sedimentary features shape their surfaces and how we can use aerial images acquired with a FLIR thermal camera to identify them.  We show that a variety of dimentary features can be discerned and with the aid of corresponding visible imagery, this type of data can be a valuable tool for geologists studying sedimentary features that sort or cement grains.  In the course of the project, several other avenues of research have arisen and we present a brief overview of some of the photos for future research with a our thermal imager.  We were invited to be part of a large team of scientists collaborating to study dust devils in El Dorado Valley south of Las Vegas.  Our thermal images were taken from the ground and air of dust devils identify a warmer- than-ambient air temperature dust column and could be used to  constrain thermal conduction models for dust devil formation.  We have also discovered that a thermal imager can be used to quickly assess surface water temperatures of hot springs, which can be used to identify colonies of thermophilic bacteria that live within them. To demonstrate this we show several intriguing thermal images taken with our thermal camera of mud pots and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.


Page updated May 26, 2018