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Geospatial Semantics and Ontology

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Integration of NGP Data within Fluid Dynamic Applications

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Home ← Integration of NGP Data within Fluid Dynamic Applications

Integration of NGP Data within Fluid Dynamic Applications

Geospatial data are a key component of investigating, interpreting, and communicating the environmental sciences. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Map is a publicly available resource for accessing geospatial base map data needs of the research community from a central location. National Map data is available through a geospatial viewer and download platform providing access to eight primary data themes plus the US Topo and scanned historical topographic maps. While these data are freely available for all to use, the science community has not yet embraced it largely because of the stigma that these are ‘mapping only’ datasets. As part of the CEGIS 5-year plan, research will be conducted to integrate The National Map datasets into other USGS discipline activities. This will be accomplished by demonstrating through basic research the value of the data and products as applied to modeling and assessment of human health concerns.

This research initially will use 3-Dimensional Elevation Program (3DEP) elevation products in a variety of fluid dynamic models (to include hydraulic, hydrology, storm-surge, and atmospheric) to evaluate performance and to improve the usability of the 3DEP product suite for science applications. This will include investigating ways to use the lidar point-cloud data to estimate calibration parameters for these predictive models. USGS program areas that benefit from this research include Water science, Human Health, and Core Science Systems.


Witt, III, E.C., 2015, Geospatial resource for the geology community: The USGS National Map: The Journal of Geology, v. 123, p. 283-294.

Current Projects:

3DEP Products used to support 1 and 2D Hydraulic Models

This project was designed to demonstrate the value of 3DEP 1 m and point cloud datasets for 1 and 2 dimensional hydraulic modeling. The 3DEP multiresolution layers were applied to a calibrated modeling scenario for a historic 100 and 500 year flood to test model performance and observe improvement to model output. Previous research on DEM resolution analysis used inconsistent one-off products obtained by principal investigators. These datasets contained dense source point-spacing that are not likely to be an option for the larger hydraulic modeling community. This research shows that the new standard 3DEP product line will provide consistent value to the hydrologic community facilitating faster and more accurate modeling outcomes.

Two-dimensional hydraulic modeling output showing difference in results generated by using five different 3DEP elevation products.

Final flood simulation of Hurricane Floyd in Greenville, NC, achieved using five different elevation products from the 3DEP database. Flo-2D was the hydraulic model used to compare elevation products.


Witt, III, E.C., 2015, Evaluation of the U.S. Geological Survey Standard Elevation Products in a Two-dimensional Hydraulic Modeling Application for a Low Relief Coastal Floodplain: Journal of Hydrology, in review.

3DEP Data used in USDA Experimental Watershed This is a new project to collaborate with the University of Arizona and the USDA- Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) with the collection of QL1 3DEP data for the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and to test this dataset within the AWGA Watershed model. The AWGA watershed model is a GIS interfaced modeling application that is extensively used in the western US for burn area assessments. Data collection is expected to occur during leaf-off in FY16 with application of the 3DEP product-line to hydrologic modeling beginning in December 2015. This effort is expected to continue beyond FY16 as the various hydraulic/hydrologic models are discovered and tested. The USDA-ARS manages science at eight additional experimental watersheds throughout the US. USGS will seek to coordinate QL1 datasets over these watersheds to apply the 3DEP product suite to science applications in these areas.

The Walnut Gulch experimental watershed is located near Tucson, Arizona. This is a 150 km2 rangeland watershed that has been extensively studied for climate, ephemeral discharge, sediment loading, and water quality since its establishment in 1954 (Goodrich et al., 2014, written commun., whitepaper).

3DEP Data use for Model Parameterization

The 3DEP effort provides a rich national dataset of high quality point cloud data that can be used for various environmental parameter estimations. CEGIS research will focus on using these data in conjunction with other public domain remote sensing assets to estimate calibration parameters for hydrologic models. This research is expected to:

  1. Develop and test methods for using point cloud and waveform data for the estimation of Manning’s n-values for hydraulic modeling.
  2. Determine the validity of building a national-level raster or vector product containing 3DEP derived n-values.
  3. Use point data derived topographic expression to estimate channel geometry for perennial streams and rivers where surveyed cross section data do not exist.
  4. Test the concept of ‘DEM channel digging’ as a method of hydroconditioning an elevation dataset prior to using it for 2D finite element elevation rendering.

Images showing the comparison of point cloud densities for three vegetation range heights. It is hypothesized that these point densities can provide a mechanism for estimating hydraulic roughness coefficients for model calibration.

Comparison of point densities in the forested Tar River floodplain of coastal North Carolina.

Completed Projects

Lead Contamination within the Transportation Network—Influence of Resource Extraction There are hundreds of miles of un-surfaced roads (gravel, sand, and/or native loam) in Missouri’s rural road maintenance program. Many of these roads are located in the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri where a legacy of Pb mining and smelting has left the area with a substantial amount of Pb contamination (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2010). The dusts created by traveling these roads may become a biohazard under numerous scenarios including but not restricted to: inhalation and/or ingestion of dust particles by occupants of vehicles, dispersal of dusts into homes located adjacent to roadways, and dispersal of dusts into back yards soils or playgrounds frequented by children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources conducted a study in 2008 to determine the extent of Pb contamination in soils along roadways in Missouri’s Pb-producing region. Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) results show Pb concentrations ranging from 20 to more than 89,000 parts per million (ppm) in areas adjacent to and distributed throughout the Mark Twain National Forest along ore haul roads (U.S. Forest Service, 2010, written communication). Rucker (2001) also found Pb concentrations ranging from 10,550 to more than 30,000 ppm in forest soils within two miles of the Buick Pb recycling smelter in Iron County, Missouri. Both Bolter (1975) and Bornstein (1989) found nearly identical results for soils collected in the same locations documenting a history of Pb accumulation and persistent contamination. Microscopic investigations of soil particles by Rucker (2001) indicate that PbS particles released by mining, milling and smelting operations can be persistent materials in soil profiles for decades.

The purpose of this research was to characterize Pb contamination in resuspended dust from the resource extraction region of southeast MO and to utilize Pb isotopes in forensic analysis to apportion Pb-types to potential Pb sources. This research was successful in showing that Pb concentration in resuspended road is substantially higher relative to the same dusts in non-mining areas. Also, that the dusts in the mining areas are geochemically distinct having a substantial amount in more labile forms. This fact increases the likelihood that these dusts will be bioavailable suggesting possible health concerns for local residents of southeastern MO. Furthermore, isotopic analysis suggests mixing of many Pb-types with predominant influence from three endmembers—mine tailings, smelter deposition, and the influence of background concentrations associated with native soils and bedrock.

Backscatter electron image (left) and secondary electron image (right) of a cubic galena (PbS) particle collected in 1998 by the PIs from soil depth of 1-2” at distance 0.72 kilometers from the smelter stack. The smelter operated used Galena concentrates as feed material from 1968-1988, indicating that the galena particle had resided in the soil for 10 to 30 years. The particle displays only limited evidence for corrosion.

Map showing locations of unsurfaced county roads in the Viburnum Trend resource extraction area that were sampled during the resuspended road dust study.

Comparison of trace elements measured in dusts from mining (VT) and non-mining (Non-VT) unsurfaced roads.

Sequential analysis of road dust samples showing percent of total Pb concentration for each of four geochemical mobility phases.

Electron microscope images and accompanying energy dispersive spectroscopy of cerrusite crystals associated with dust particles from road samples in the study area.

Three endmember mixing field constraining dust samples demonstrating the value of isotopic forensics for apportionment of Pb sources.

Result of mixing model showing all samples and their geochemical phases plotting toward the mine tailing endmember suggesting that components associated with mine tailings are being incorporated into road dust through purposeful application or by wind blown processes.


Witt III, E.C., Wronkiewicz, D.J., Pavlowsky, R.T., and Shi, Honglan, 2013. Trace metals in fugitive dust from unsurfaced roads in the Viburnum Trend resource mining District of Missouri—Implementation of a direct-suspension sampling methodology. Chemosphere 92, 1506-1512.

Witt III, E.C., Wronkiewicz, D.J., and Shi, Honglan, 2013. Preliminary assessment of an economical fugitive road dust sampler for the collection of bulk samples for geochemical analysis. J. Environ. Qual. 42, 21-29.

Witt III, E.C., Shi, Honglan, Wronkiewicz, D.J., and Pavlowsky, R.T., 2014. Phase partitioning and bioaccessibility of Pb in suspended dust from unsurfaced roads in Missouri—A potential tool for determining mitigation response. Atm. Env. 88, 90-98.

Witt, III, E.C., Pribil, M., Hogan, J.P., and Wronkiewicz, D.J., 2015, Isotopically constrained lead sources in fugitive dust from unsurfaced roads in the southeast Missouri Mining District: target Journal of Chemical Geology (internal review)

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Last modified: Monday, 30-Jan-2017 13:35:46 EST