Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

R. Douglas Ramsey


R. Douglas Ramsey


Patrick Belmont


Eric Thacker


For certain landscape reclamation efforts surrounding, the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining (UDOGM) utilizes a surface roughing technique called “pocking”. The process of pocking establishes closely spaced gouges approximately 1.2 meters in diameter and 0.5 meters deep across a reclaimed landscape in order to reduce surface erosion and promote plant growth on steep terrain in arid regions. Pocks are designed as a series of micro watersheds that trap water to aid in plant establishment and reduces overland flow of water. Over time vegetation grows within the pocks as they infill with sediment. While this method is considered an effective reclamation technique, its effectiveness has, to date, relied on observation only. This research will utilize consumer grade unmanned aerial systems (UASs) commonly known as “drones”, to develop a technique by which pocks can be monitored and the effectiveness of pocking can be quantified. To this end, UAS overflights spanning two years (2019-2020) resulted in high-resolution (2.5cm) ortho imagery as well as digital terrain data at the same resolution. A comparison of the data collected across these two years identified erosion and deposition within and between pocks as well as the establishment and spread of seeded vegetation. The results also identified a spatial pattern of landscape subsidence as the reclaimed landscape settled. We found that, with effective geographic control, low-cost, off-the-shelf, consumer grade drones are an effective tool to monitor and quantify changes in reclaimed landscapes.