Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Millaire, Jean-François

2nd Supervisor

Nelson, Andrew

Joint Supervisor


This thesis reports on the results of a survey project conducted in 2018 and 2019, intending to address two main research questions: (1) What remote sensing technique(s) worked best to identify buried features at Las Colmenas? (2) What combinations of techniques proved to be optimal for identifying buried features, and what are the benefits and limitations of the use of an integrated approach? This project incorporated two scales of analysis: macroscale optical and thermal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys and microscale Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), magnetic susceptibility, and magnetometry surveys. A side-by-side comparison proved the thermal UAV, GPR, and magnetic susceptibility surveys were most successful at Las Colmenas. However, by integrating these methods, we noted that a multi-faceted approach is indeed useful, but a small subset of these techniques can be used depending on funding, expertise, time available, environmental conditions, and goals of the project.

Summary for Lay Audience

This research project employs five different remote sensing methods to assess the presence of buried structures without having to uncover them. The ancient urban settlement of Las Colmenas, on the north coast of Peru, is used as a case study. This project uses both thermal and optical drone surveys to assess the extent of the site and to document the ancient urban morphology of the settlement. Three geological survey methods are also used: Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), magnetic susceptibility, and magnetometry survey. These techniques identify buried structures based on physical differences caused by the composition of the features or past human activity. The first goal of this project is to assess which technique(s) were more successful at identifying buried structures at Las Colmenas. The second goal is to integrate the results of these techniques into a single cohesive dataset to determine which combination of techniques proved to be most optimal to identify buried features. As such, the benefits and limitations of an integrated approach are also addressed. By using a side-by-side comparison of the results from each technique, it is clear the thermal drone survey, GPR survey, and magnetic susceptibility surveys were the most successful in identifying buried architecture. By integrating the datasets into one single map, we noted that an approach that includes multiple techniques at once is advantageous, as it includes the different types of features each tool can identify. However, a smaller subset of techniques can be used depending on the goals of the project, as well as available funding and expertise, the portability of the equipment, the time available, and the environmental conditions of the survey area.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.