The world’s largest fossil oyster reef, formed by the giant oyster Crassostrea gryphoides and located in Stetten (north of Vienna, Austria), is studied in this article. Digital documentation of the unique geological site is provided by terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) at the millimeter scale. Obtaining meaningful results is not merely a matter of data acquisition with a suitable device; it requires proper planning, data management, and postprocessing. Terrestrial laser scanning technology has a high potential for providing precise 3D mapping that serves as the basis for automatic object detection in different scenarios; however, it faces challenges in the presence of large amounts of data and the irregular geometry of an oyster reef. We provide a detailed description of the techniques and strategy used for data collection and processing. The use of laser scanning provided the ability to measure surface points of 46,840 (estimated) shells. They are up to 60-cm-long oyster specimens, and their surfaces are modeled with a high accuracy of 1 mm. In addition, we propose an automatic analysis method for identifying and enumerating convex parts of shells. Object surfaces were detected with a completeness of 69% and a correctness of over 75% by means of a fully automated workflow. Accuracy of 98% was achieved in detecting the number of objects. In addition to laser scanning measurements, more than 300 photographs were captured, and an orthophoto mosaic was generated with a ground sampling distance (GSD) of 0.5 mm. This high-resolution 3D information and the photographic texture serve as the basis for ongoing and future geological and paleontological analyses. Moreover, they provide unprecedented documentation for conservation issues at a unique natural heritage site.
- Received 15 October 2015.
- Revision received 27 May 2016.
- Accepted 19 August 2016.
- ©The Authors
Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.