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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Patrick Burke

Utilisation of Remote Sensing and Geospatial Technologies for the Detection, Mapping and Conservation of Australian Indigenous Cultural Heritage
02 MAY 2023
12.00 PM - 1.30 PM

The destruction of cultural heritage throughout the world is happening at an increasing rate. In Australia there have been events, such as the destruction of Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto, which have caused public outcry and a demand for change. Over the past ten years there has also been a significant change in the way Australian law regards the cultural heritage of the Aboriginal people. The majority of Australian states and the Federal Government are in the process of rephrasing the legal requirements and prerequisites concerning cultural heritage protection, as well as cultural heritage surveys. These changes are resulting in an increased demand for larger areas to be archaeologically surveyed, in greater detail, and within short timeframes. 

This research will analyse how the use of historic aerial imagery, drone mounted LiDAR, and sensors such as hyperspectral and multispectral cameras, can be utilised to identify indigenous Australian cultural heritage sites. The historic aerial imagery will be utilised to detect areas of undisturbed vegetation, which will be combined with natural feature data in a weighted sum predictive analysis. The drone mounted LiDAR will be used in an oblique mode at the heel of vegetation covered escarpments to detect caves, rock overhangs and possible rock carving sites, by digitally removing the vegetation. The hyperspectral sensors and the resulting data will analysed for the possible detection of shell middens, either by detecting the increased concentrations of calcium carbonate in the covering vegetation or through the calculation of NDVI. 

The resulting data, models, and methodologies from this research will provide indigenous groups valuable information regarding the location and condition of cultural heritage sites within their claims. The results of this research will provide Government entities, archaeologists, mining companies, indigenous groups and those responsible for the management of the landscape, reliable methods to rapidly and effectively examine the level of risk, relating to the possible existence of cultural heritage sites within their areas of responsibility.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 31 1088.