Identification of Maya ruins covered by jungle using Sentinel-1 - Laboratoire franco-singapourien de recherche en électromagnétisme et radars Access content directly
Journal Articles Scientific Reports Year : 2024

Identification of Maya ruins covered by jungle using Sentinel-1


Archaeologists commonly use airborne LIDAR technology to produce 3D models of structures, even when obscured by a forest canopy. However, this technology has a high cost, both from the plane itself and from the processing of the LIDAR point cloud. Furthermore, this technique can only be used over limited regions. This paper proposes a technique that uses SAR satellite imagery to identify man-made structures hidden by a forest canopy. To do so, we exploit the Ascending and Descending passes of Sentinel-1 so that we obtain two images of the candidate site but from different sight directions. Because of cardinal effects, a large enough building will sign differently from the comparatively isotropic forest canopy it is obscured by. Practically, the technique is based on the ratio of backscattered intensity from these two illumination angles and is well adapted for large areas. The advantages and shortcomings are discussed for the specific case of Sentinel-1 SAR images over two Maya archaeological sites in Central America. Our analysis shows that SAR satellite imagery might provide a free, global-scale way of preselecting sites with large or tall structures to complement LIDAR technology.
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hal-04491093 , version 1 (05-03-2024)



Florent Michenot, Israel Hinostroza, Regis Guinvarc’h, Laetitia Thirion-Lefevre. Identification of Maya ruins covered by jungle using Sentinel-1. Scientific Reports, 2024, 14 (1), pp.3293. ⟨10.1038/s41598-024-53068-2⟩. ⟨hal-04491093⟩
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