Since they began clearing valleys and slopes for agriculture more than 9,000 years ago, and continuing with the construction of roads, buildings and cities, people have been altering landscapes. UVM geologists explore the link between human actions and landscape--and reach some important conclusions--in the cover article of the March issue of GSA Today. Produced by the Geological Society of America, the prestigious monthly journal goes to more than 20,000 geologists and libraries worldwide.
Paul Bierman, professor of geology, and colleagues--including three undergraduates--authored the paper, titled "Old Landscape Images Record Landscape Change Through Time." The paper is the result of research collected via UVMs Landscape Change Program, a searchable, web-based community archive of more than 10,000 images of Vermont landscapes from before 1810 to the present. The archive, which is particularly rich in rare images of rural areas, can be accessed online at http://uvm.edu/perkins/landscape.
Historical photographs are a powerful tool for examining and understanding the distribution of physical and biological surficial processes over the course of decades and centuries. Such imagery is particularly valuable for understanding human-landscape interaction. The GSA article presents several examples of quantitative, image-based, landscape-scale analyses made using hundreds of different images, each taken at a different place.
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