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Mar 22 / Dave Schumaker

Repeat Photography

Repeat photography for the analysis of geologic processes has been picking up quite a bit of steam in the past few years. The latest news is courtesy of this USGS press release, announcing a new website documenting the changes in Glacier National Park, Montana.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists with the Global Change Research Project are unveiling a new website featuring a collection of repeat photographs of glaciers in and around Glacier National Park, Montana. The striking images created by pairing historical photographs with contemporary photographs reveal significant glacial recession.


USGS scientists began documenting glacial decline through photography in 1997. While less quantitative than other high-tech methods of recording glacial mass, depth, and rate of retreat, repeat photography provides an effective visual tool to better understand how climate change contributes to the dynamic landscape of Glacier National Park.

There are other areas repeat photography has been used in as well. A history of land use on the Colorado Plateau, photographs documenting vegetation change in Alaska (originally used to analyze structural geology and locate oil bearing rocks).

Now that I think about it, there are also 3 other research projects I know about that have used repeat photography (unfortunately I cannot find links to them). One of them is a comparison of areas immediately after the 1906 earthquake and now (fascinating photos actually), Tom Hanks with the USGS Menlo Park has used photographs his father took of the Colorado River and compared them with photographs taken recently, and a project I participated in mapping travertine dams along Fossil Creek in Arizona.

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