Using Open Source GIS Software to Address Archaeological Problems: Preserving Sites on San Miguel Island

Authors: Yesenia Garcia*, San Diego State University , Isaac I.T Ullah, San Diego State University Assistant Professor & Undergraduate Advisor
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Human-Environment Geography, Anthropocene
Keywords: open source GIS software, California archaeology, cultural resource management, erosion simulation modeling, historical data
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Archaeological sites are non-renewable resources, increasingly pertinent to historical ecological studies for sustainability, and conservation management. Preserving these resources is, therefore, a critical endeavor. One issue facing this work, however, is the amount of effort that needs to be expended to find, analyze, and prioritize the mitigation of current and future erosional damage to important archaeological resources. An interdisciplinary approach that combines empirical measurement and simulation modeling offers a way forward on this difficult problem. Using open source GIS software (GRASS and QGIS), I present here an initial case study of this methodology, which looks to quantify and rank potential future erosion damage to important sites on San Miguel Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. I will use landscape simulation tools in GRASS GIS to simulate hillslope and channel erosion under a variety of climate and land-use scenarios. These experiments will be calibrated using daily historical climate records and historical aerial photographs of the Island that cover the period from 1893 to 2018. Much of the previous erosion mitigation research effort on the Northern Channel Islands has focused on coastal sites and coastal erosion processes such as storm-surge and waves. This new work will enable mitigation plans to also be developed for inland sites, which are of equal importance to coastal ones. In this way, we can better address and mitigate the loss of cultural heritage across all parts of the Northern Channel Islands and attempt to equally preserve all cultural resources.

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