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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mysterious Circles,Hidden Volcano Revealed by Laser Photos

Laser Photos Reveal Hidden Volcano, Pits of Mystery

Canby farm field. Aerial photo courtesy DOGAMI.
I have to admit I was thoroughly underwhelmed when geologist Ian Madin sent us to Haines Road near Canby. He said he’d found a previously undetected volcano. A perfect cone sat in a farmer’s field. When we got there, all we found was rolling “hills” in a Christmas tree farm. Just not impressive.

Hidden Volcano near Canby
But Ian’s photo showed something far more intriguing. He’s the Chief Scientist atOregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and he’s spending a lot of time with the most sophisticated imaging available. LIDAR uses lasers to map the land in stunning detail.
Using LIDAR, geologists can digitally remove every tree, bush and building to see the exact shape of the land underneath. A regular aerial photo shows just a farm field. LIDAR reveals a hidden volcano.

Pits of Mystery near Corvallis. LIDAR Courtesy DOGAMI.
Every more peculiar, Madin has spotted dozens of strange circles. Not crop circles. These are soil circles. The jury is still out what’s leaving these large circular depressions throughout the Willamette Valley. (But they’re never found in Washington County in the Tualatin basin. Odd.)
Just as before, we showed up in person and found a field with hollows that surely fill with water in the rainy season. They’re nothing to write home about until you realize there are nearly two dozen on this one farm and they’re all circular. Watch our story on Oregon Field Guide, Thursday, Feb. 10.

OFG Video Extras: How LIDAR works.

How LIDAR works. Courtesy DOGAMI.

Oregon Field Guide: LIDAR - Pits of Mystery

Revolutionary laser mapping reveals hidden Pits of Mystery across the Willamette Valley.

Categorized: Geology,History

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