Sarah Smith


MA Theses: Sarah Smith, 2021

Analysis of the Efficacy of LiDAR Data as a Tool for Archaeological Prospection at the Highland Valley Copper Mine


David Burley, Professor, Supervisor
Kristin Safi, Archaeologist, Committee Member
Travis Freeland, Kleanza Consulting Ltd, Examiner
John Welch, Professor, Chair


As heritage resource management and Indigenous heritage stewardship moves into the forefront of project design and operational planning in British Columbia, researchers look for innovative ways to foster impact assessment efficiency without sacrificing quality. In this study I explore methods for employing LiDAR-derived digital elevation models as a tool for archaeological prospection within the Highland Valley Copper Mine. A review of contemporary and formative LiDAR-analysis archaeological prospection research was conducted to identify the most appropriate visualization techniques and data management workflow. Specific methods for the identification of microtopographic relief with the potential to contain archaeological resources were developed. The efficacy of LiDAR-based topographic analysis using manual feature extraction is validated through comparison with georeferenced survey and groundtruthing data provided by my research partners at the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council. The LiDAR analysis method identified a high percentage of recorded archaeological sites and meets Provincial requirements for a moderately effective predictive model. Results of LiDAR analysis are presented along with recommendations for improved performance using best practice and an interpolation workflow. An analysis of the cost implications of incorporating LiDAR-survey into the heritage management workflow in the study area identified a significant benefit during survey. These savings would allow for redistribution of resources and potentially a greater focus on mitigative systematic data recovery. The use of remote sensing technologies and methods can have a positive impact on heritage resource management industry in BC by decreasing program costs while maintaining quality.