Historical Preservation of Toomer's Oaks in Auburn, AL

Science Center Objects

The live oaks framing Toomer's Corner in Auburn, Alabama were planted about 1880 and have served as a focal point for Auburn celebrations in recent decades. The trees recently received a powerful dose of an herbicide known as Spike 80DF. In an effort to save the trees, a task force made up of university horticulturists, landscapers, agronomists, engineers, chemists and others has undertaken a series of steps to save the trees. Despite the efforts, it has been speculated that the trees are unlikely to survive.

If the trees do not survive, how can they be historically preserved? After the trees have been cut down, what can be remembered of the trees? What were the height, diameter, and canopy of each tree? How were the trees positioned in Toomer's Corner? The answers to these questions have already been addressed by the U.S. Geological Survey Alabama Water Science Center and Dr. Luke Marzen, Professor of Geography, Auburn Applied Remote Sensing Program, Auburn University.

The AL-WSC and Dr. Marzen utilized a tripod-mounted laser scanner to capture every dimension of the trees. The tripod-mounted laser scanner also known as terrestrial light detection and ranging (T-LiDAR).

Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (T-LiDAR) Technology

T-LiDAR technology utilizes reflected laser pulses sent from a tripod-mounted scanning instrument to determine distances to targets of interest. The resulting dataset is a 3 dimensional model or "point cloud" of millions of XYZ data points, spaced only a few millimeters apart. This highly detailed dataset is used by USGS scientists to create topographic models, make detailed measurements, and quantify geomorphic and vegetative changes on the earth's surface.

Alabama Water Science Center's Current Projects

Historical Preservation of Toomer's Oaks in Auburn, AL

The Alabama Water Science Center and Dr. Luke Marzen, Professor of Geography at Auburn University utilized a tripod-mounted laser scanner to capture every dimension of the trees. The tripod-mounted laser scanner also known as terrestrial light detection and ranging (T-LiDAR) quickly scans and outputs XYZ geospatial data to produce highly accurate 3 dimensional (3D) point cloud of the surveyed scene.

Click here to find out more about this ALWSC project.