Archaeological theory, X-Ray Fluorescence, SFM software, and pizza


I have uploaded a couple of photos from our test run of the photography blimp mentioned in yesterday’s blog.  Good fun!


Today began with the organization of research groups for the following weeks’ work.  My archaeology team consists of Lawrence, Samantha, Avery, Paul (grad student TA), and myself.  We will be exploring pre-contact social organization in the distribution of agricultural features at Mahaulepu.  Aerial  surveillance and mapping will be complemented by soil composition analysis.  We spent the afternoon becoming better acquainted with the Bruker portable XRF unit.  Rather than employ this portable unit in the field, we plan to set up a stationary analysis space at the National Tropical Botanical Garden laboratories once we arrive on Kauai.  Field samples (dirt) will be transported to the laboratory for analysis as a way of minimizing analytical interference that might occur in the field.  We will be comparing various soil samples for elemental signatures as a way of understanding past land utilization.

I spent some extra time today finishing up a project involving Photosynth structure from motion (SFM) software.  For an introductory exercise, I took a hundred photos of a park bench and then created a 3-dimensional image for the purpose of point cloud generation.  I will later attempt to extract the point cloud data for the creation of a digital elevation model (DEM) of the bench.  The object chosen for this project is somewhat pedestrian.  However, this exercise introduces a quick method of creating highly refined spatial data from a handful of point-and-shoot photographs.  Below are single photos of the park bench and a corresponding point cloud for the same visual angle.  The complete “synth ” may be found at


It has been a long week and we will leave for Kauai on Sunday.  There is still much to do.  Tomorrow is packing day and our equipment collection probably outweighs the people in our research group.  Work aside, our esteemed professors decided we needed a break this evening.  Our dedication was rewarded with a glorious trip to the local pizza joint.  No better way to reward scholarship than pizza!!!  Stay tuned for more news.

–  John Thornton O’Connor