ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A team from the University of South Florida is working with the National Park Service to use 3D imaging to help protect and preserve Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas.

“We’re basically doing a full-scale 3D documentation survey,” Lori Collins, Ph.D., said. Collins is a research associate professor and director at USF Libraries.

Collins said the team used scanners and lasers to create 3D images of the interior and exteriors of the structures.

“Even things that are very hard to detect or see with the human eye, we can pick out with these types of instruments,” she said. “We can collect everything from really, half a human hair kind of accuracy, all the way up to 330 meters of landscape.”

In one room, an area between the soldiers’ quarters and the jail, Collins pointed out cravings of names, dates and pictures all over the walls.

“What we’re able to do is capture all of the really fine carving that’s on the walls,” she said. “And then from that we can model and try to understand what is actually on the wall and how all the plaster degradation can be stopped or conserved for the future.”

The images will allow researchers to figure out what caused various damage to brainstorm ways to prevent it going forward.

“We will be able to work with the Park Service on how they can protect what is left and how they can better conserve what is here,” Collins said.

The images can also be compared from year to year to monitor change.