Professor Guth Research Summary


Professor Guth’s research centers on the use of digital elevation models (DEMs) in geology and military terrain analysis.  In addition to groundbreaking research, the software he develops to support his research provides an outstanding resource for students, other researchers, and the general public.  This software can be freely downloaded from the USNA web site.

Professor Guth has key research publications in refereed journals or book chapters, covering six major areas.  They have appeared in journals or book chapters that have been peer-reviewed after presentations at national or international conferences.

1.  Terrain characterization at continental scale computed from different digital elevation models.  With the release of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, this work points out the capabilities and the limitations of this data set.  This work; even though it focuses on the geological and geographical aspects of DEMs, has practical implications for all those using the data.  As one example, he showed that the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data has an effective resolution less than that at which it was distributed, and that it could have been released in a form with one quarter of the required storage (4 DVDs instead of 13).  Only 15-20% of the papers from this conference were published in the journal, and this promises to be a very much cited paper.

2.  Characteristics of the algorithms used to compute intervisibility and viewsheds.  This is useful for military and commercial applications like cell phone coverage, and has been funded by Boeing. 

3.  The grain or fabric in terrain, computed with eigenvector techniques, which can help to describe terrain, infer processes that led to landscape creation, and might be useful for computing cross country mobility.  Based on  papers at the Fifth International Conference on Geomorphology, 23-28 August, 2001, Tokyo, and the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

4.  Anomalies in DEMs created by digitizing the contour lines found on topographic lines.  This is the method currently used by the US Geological Survey, which leaves anomalies in the DEM that can be used to determine the contour interval of the source map.  On a practical level, this also affects slopes computed from the DEMs, one of the most important derivative products created from DEMs.

5.  An analysis of the algorithms used to compute slope, that showed strong correlations among all algorithms along with systematic differences in the computed values.  The biggest differences among algorithms occurs along ridges and valleys, and suggest that we should carefully consider what we mean by the slope at those locations.  Based on an invited presentation for Symposium on General Geomorphometry, at 3rd International Conference on Geomorphology, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, August 1993.

6.  PhD research on the Sheep Range of Southern Nevada led to a 1981 paper in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.  This was groundbreaking work on the patterns of extensional deformation in southern Nevada, and continues to be cited because the careful field work on which it was based is not likely to be duplicated or become dated.  A follow on paper in a Memoir of the Geological Society  was published just after he arrived at USNA.  Professor Guth has shifted away from this kind of field-based geologic research, because it does not fit with the constraints of teaching at an undergraduate institution like the Naval Academy.

 last revision 2/5/2016