The National Park Service recently completed a laser-scanning project at Mount Rushmore National Monument. Over the past month, crews have been using lasers to create a three-dimensional digital scan of the four presidential faces and other features. Tripod-mounted lasers were used to project and measure millions of points on the monument, capturing sub-centimeter details. This ground-breaking 3-D scanning project is intended to not only provide comprehensive historical documentation but also has applications for interactive public interpretation, education, and research programs.

3D laser scan of Mount Rushmore

Scanning the faces of Mount Rushmore captured millions of data points to create a highly accurate digital record. Photo courtesy of Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Scanning was undertaken by members of the Park’s technical ropes team and scanning specialists from CyArk, Historic Scotland, and the Digital Design Studio of the Glasgow School of Art. The project is part of the CyArk 500 initiative, an international effort to digitally document and preserve 500 of the world’s heritage sites. Other CyArk-documented sites include Chichen Itza, Mesa Verde, Pompeii, and the Titanic (in progress).

Though scanning the colossal faces took only 16 days, it will take another 10 to 12 months to process the data.

For more information, images of the scanning process, and a journal of the scanning project see

Tagged with →  
Share →

7 Responses to Mount Rushmore Laser Scanning Complete

  1. […] 3D laser scanned image is the kind of deliverable that I was expecting from this project. This was reported by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. Photo courtesy of Mount Rushmore […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by State of the Parks, said: RT @stateoftheparks: Cool! Historical documentation by laser scanning at Mount Rushmore: […]

  3. suport cave says:

    I love how the picture came out, it looks like its made out of smoke!

  4. Rattan says:

    very nice work

  5. Ron says:

    This is a great tool and has a lot of possibilities in education and interaction. I would love to see this when it is done. It would also be cool if they could use pictures from construction and create a time lapse of the monument as it was built from beginning to completion. and then a time lapse into the future to see how it will age.

  6. Greg says:

    Wow this is truly remarkable. It’s great to know that these things are being preserved but I think it would be better to experience the real thing and stop thinking about a time when they will be destroyed.

  7. Amanda says:

    This is an awesome project! I’d like that image as a print for the wall…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *