One of the primary research goals at Sistema
Zacatón is to create an extremely detailed, three-dimensional representation of the karst aquifer system using multi-sourced digital datasets.  This 3-D imagery will be used for identifying spatial distribution of geologic, biologic, and hydrologic properties, and will also produce an exceptional devise for educational outreach.  The three data sources are: LADAR (LAser  Distance And Ranging) for the surface features, SONAR for sub-aquatic imaging, and Earth Resistivity geophysical imaging for sub-surface interpretations.  By integrating all three of these independent data sources into a common geographic Cartesian coordinate system, the physical extent and development of the Sistema Zacatón karst can be quantified quite accurately.
  A three-dimensional model is planned for the complex of water-filled sinkholes in the south section of the study area (see study area aerial photo and cross-section) that incorporates multi-sourced datasets of the land surface, phreatic voids (flooded cave passages), and the Earth subsurface.  To date, the land surface model data has been acquired using a laser radar instrument, or LADAR (similar LIDAR).  In January 2002, a expedition including Marcus Gary, Dr. Jack SharpDr. Mark Helper  (The University of Texas), and Dr. Bill Stone-(email) (STONE Aerospace and developer of the underwater Digital Wall Mapper) surveyed and scanned the land and water surface of Zacatón, Caracol, La Pilita, and Azufrosa using a LADAR instrument supplied from the NIST lab.   Two to five scans from each of the sinkholes were made, collecting point data in sub-centimeter resolution.  Over 5 million data points were recorded.  Future field work is planned using SONAR technology to image underwater regions, and geophysical Earth Resistivity techniques to image the subsurface structures.  Ultimately, all three of these spatial datasets are to be meshed together to create an unprecedented, high-resolution model of a karst aquifer.

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