Battelle-Upcoming Presentation: Transforming Stockpile Surveys with Drones


Transforming Stockpile Surveys with Cutting-Edge Drone Technology Presentation at the Upcoming 2024 Battelle Conference     

We are excited to announce our presentation on "Estimating Stockpile Volumes using Drone Surveying Technology" at the 2024 Battelle Thirteenth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds Conference to be held in Denver, CO on Wednesday, June 5th as a platform (oral) presentation. Recalcitrant Compounds Conference. This session will showcase our innovative approach to estimating stockpile volumes using cutting-edge drone surveying technology.

Background/Objectives: Our team embarked on a project to assess a 20-acre parcel marked by numerous stockpiled soil and debris materials from past city construction activities. The objective was to estimate the volume of these materials and develop a sampling plan for further analysis.

Approach/Activities: Utilizing a Phantom 4 Pro unmanned drone, we conducted a comprehensive survey of the site, collecting topographic data and identifying stockpile locations. Ground control points were employed for precise results, and DroneDeploy software was utilized to process the collected data into three-dimensional models and digital elevation maps.

Results: The drone survey revealed approximately 550 individual stockpile locations, allowing for accurate volume estimations and material categorization. The analytical results of the samples collected will provide insights into waste stream designations and guide future site management decisions.

Benefits/Cost-Savings: The use of drone surveying technology offers significant benefits and cost savings to our clients. It provides rapid, accurate, and comprehensive data collection, reducing the time and labor required for traditional surveying methods. This technology also enhances safety by minimizing the need for personnel to physically access potentially hazardous areas. Additionally, the high-resolution data and precise volumetric calculations help in efficient project planning and resource allocation, leading to cost-effective site management and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Join us at the event to learn more about this groundbreaking project and its implications for remote monitoring and site assessments. 


Battelle Chlorinated Conference Event Abstract 

Estimating Stockpile Volumes Using Drone Surveying Technology


A 20-acre parcel located in Los Angeles contains numerous stockpiled soil and debris/fill material deposited from past undocumented City construction project activities. A Site walk was conducted to observe the numerous stockpiles which consist of various heterogeneous stockpiled soils, dredged materials, and construction debris.  In order to estimate the volume of stockpiled material, a strategic approach was created to grid the Site using an unmanned, overhead drone fly-over to survey and map the field grid to identify the areal extent of stockpiled materials. The Site is located in a Class E airspace which allows the operation of overhead flying of unmanned aircrafts. Prior to mobilizing to the Site, a Temporary Entry Use Permit was obtained from the local agency for operating an unmanned aircraft over the Site. The stockpiled soils, dredge materials and concrete debris will require  sampling for chemical analysis to determine if stockpiled materials can be reused at the Site or will be hauled offsite for proper disposal.

The purpose of the drone evaluation is to determine ground surface elevations, to differentiate stockpile material types, and to estimate the volume of stockpiled soils and debris materials in order to develop a sampling plan.


A Phantom 4 Pro unmanned Drone flew over the Site to survey the ground surface, obtain topographic elevation, identify proposed stockpiled sampling locations, and estimate the material type and volume of stockpiled materials. A drone flight plan was created by establishing a flight pattern consisting of longitudes/latitudes (waypoints) that navigated the Drone into east-west grid paths. By utilizing ground control points, the accuracy of the results from the drone survey were within a few centimeters. Global Positioning System (GPS) ground-based survey equipment was used to collect coordinates and elevations of each ground control point.  Following the drone flight, our DroneDeploy software platform was used to process the aerial images and coordinate data into three-dimensional (3-D) models, which were then utilized in ArcGIS to create digital elevation maps. Due to the number of different stockpiles with unknown origins consisting of various compositions and colors, they were managed as individual stockpiles for categorization and discrete sampling and analysis. Based on this evaluation, it was estimated that 48 representative discrete samples be collected for chemical analysis.

Results/Lessons Learned:

The Drone survey revealed approximately 550 individual stockpile locations. Each stockpile was plotted and elevations estimated to provide the volume of the stockpiled material either individually or in groupings. An orthomosaic map with elevations was then created showing the proposed stockpiled soil and concrete material sampling locations. Coordinates of the collected sample points were incorporated into the 3D model and connected spatially, creating multiple lines emanating from each point. The DroneDeploy software platform then reanalyzed the new spatial data and identified the shared points. The map categorized the stockpiles based on material type, size and estimated volume. The estimated stockpiles consisted of soil/dredged stockpiled material, concrete/asphalt, construction debris and gravel/boulders/cobbles for a total volume of approximately 2,700 cubic yards which were differentiated with various colors.

The analytical results of the stockpiled samples will be illustrated by showing the constituent of concern concentrations detected along with their waste stream designation of either non-hazardous, non–Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or RCRA hazardous waste.

Co-Author: Anthony Lizzi, PG, CHG
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Presenter: Jared B. Recla, FAA Part 107, USDOT, Caltrans
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





NINYO & MOORE We transform today so our world is a better place tomorrow.