RIEGL VZ-6000 completes first project in Greenland

RIEGL LMS representative Ananda Fowler joined Dave Finnegan, a researcher for the US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research Lab (CRREL) for a time-critical research project located just below the Arctic Circle in Southeast Greenland. The duo formed part of a team that camped out for 3 days on the site of the glacier while monitoring the Helheim Glacier.

The purpose of the research visit was to test the newly developed VZ-6000 in real-world conditions for a real scientific purpose: map and monitor movement of the Helheim Glacier. Mr. Finnegan has been fielding RIEGL scanners for this purpose for nearly a decade; taking the latest in innovative technology from RIEGL LMS and applying in his field of expertise: Geomorphology.

This latest test involved multiple flights and ultimately a helicopter flight loaded with scientific equipment: including the VZ-6000. The team quickly unloaded the helicopter on the glacier fjord and the helicopter returned to the nearest village: 30km away. This left the team alone to conduct research and camp out under the Northern Lights next to one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world: moving at a rate of roughly 1 m/hr. The movement may not seem like much, but consider this: the glacier is over 6km wide and 600m deep. That’s over 50 cubic kilometers of moving ice!

30 minutes after the helicopter had departed; Dave and Ananda had the VZ-6000 set up and ready to go. First they sampled some data from the scanner to determine the optimum scanning pattern and resolution. Next they configured the system to automatically acquire data on a fixed interval: one scan every 2 minutes. This key ability of the VZ-Line of instruments is just one of the features which make the VZ-Line more powerful than any other Terrestrial Laser Scanners available on the market. The scanner operated continuously for nearly 48 hours before a storm came and the team was required to evacuate the site.

As exciting as this trip was, it wasn’t the first time RIEGL teamed up with CRREL. In March RIEGL USA joined Dave Finnegan on a trip to Hawaii to scan lava flows and observe one of only 3 lava lakes in the world: Halema'uma'u.

To see some of the adventure, go to video.