Digital Scanning Begins at Mount Rushmore

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Date: May 7, 2010
Contact: Navnit Singh, 605-574-3115

(Keystone, SD) A ground-breaking three-dimensional laser scanning project will begin at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Monday, May 10. Memorial staff will be using the latest laser scanning technology to create a highly detailed record of the sculpture and other historic resources at the park. The Memorial is working in partnership with the Kacyra Family Foundation and the Foundation’s project, CyArk – a US-based non-profit organization that pioneered the digital preservation of world heritage sites and monuments. Historic Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art will also be onsite to provide technical support to the Kacyra Family Foundation and the National Park Service (NPS) during this project.

The laser scanning technology being used at the memorial consists of highly precise, high-speed terrestrial laser scanning systems, capable of sub-centimeter data capture and aerial optical remote sensing technology called LiDAR (light Detection and Ranging). These systems quickly measure millions of survey points with unprecedented accuracy and will create digital data the National Park Service can then use for historic documentation and preservation. The team will use a mix of lasers mounted on tripods and hand held devices at locations throughout the park and on the mountain.

The value of the 3-D scanning provides realistic digital information of the site and has applications to provide innovative and interactive public interpretation, education, research and security programs. In the event of an incident resulting in the damage to the sculpture, the data would provide the information necessary to accurately replicate carved surfaces. The digital data will also give the NPS the ability to develop a very realistic interactive model for Mount Rushmore for education and interpretation including potential “virtual tours” of the memorial, as well as the entire site.

The technical complexity of the laser scanning requires significant teamwork from specialists involved in the project. The scanning team consists of members of the Memorial’s technical ropes team, scanning specialists from the Kacyra Family Foundation, Historic Scotland, and the Glasgow School of Art, as well as local technical consulting staff from Respec

Engineering, Inc., Wyss and Associates, Inc., and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Team members will be visible throughout the park and on the mountain during the laser scanning project. Memorial trails and facilities will be open during the scanning. Weather permitting, the project is scheduled to take place from May 10 through May 21.

Last updated: May 15, 2017

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