Objectives of the Project

The dimension of the protected site and the enormous number of individual shells (c. 15.000) makes a classical paleontological survey of its internal architecture and orientation very difficult, time consuming and highly subjective. Therefore, despite the impressive amount of publications that deal with the flora and fauna of this Early Miocene estuary in which the oyster biostrome was formed, a comparable analysis of the spectacular shell accumulation is still missing so far. No quantification of the shells was performed and the taxonomic inventory and taphonomic features were only cursorily documented during excavation. Hence, thanks to use of new technologies and automated processing methods, it would be possible to cope with the generally high amount of data in order to bring in automation in Paleontology. Consequently, we formulate the following hypothesis:

"Appropriate application of state-of-the-art 3D digitizing, data processing, and visualization technologies allows for a significant automation in paleontological prospection, making an evaluation of huge areas economically feasible in both time and costs".


The hypothesis is opening a new field we call "Smart Geology", which is characterized by automation and large volumes of data. The major topics to be dealt with are:

  • evaluating available instruments (laser scanning, image acquisition) to optimize the digitizing workflow with respect to efficiency, accuracy, and resolution for 3D digitizing of shape (geometry) and appearance (images) of a huge paleontological excavation site,

  • adapting existing and developing new methods for automated and objective evaluation of  3D point clouds and derived products as well as image data for geological and paleontological analysis and interpretation,

  • investigating the applicability of smart devices (esp. TabletPCs) and augmented reality to make data and results available at any place enabling on-site accessibility of all project data as well as on-site data evaluation considering already available digital information.