Examining the Utility of Spatial Analysis of Artifact Distribution at a World War II Aircraft Crash Site

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Lauerhass, Audrey
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
At aircraft crash sites, the use of geographic information system (GIS) mapping technologies can allow for a greater spatial understanding of aircraft wreckage (ACW) distribution and improve the recovery of human remains. Creating predictive models assists with concentrating efforts and resources in areas likely to contain material of interest. At a World War II crash site, portions of the roughly 450 x 350 meter site were systematically scanned via metal detection, sampled, and documented. All ACW was analyzed based on its original location on the aircraft. The coordinates of positional ACW and the number of metal detection hits were entered into ArcGIS Pro with other spatial data. The creation of a detailed distribution map of the aircraft debris field guided excavation strategies in the third year of the recovery project and demonstrated that spatial analysis of large aircraft crash sites is an effective tool for maximizing resources for successful recoveries.