The University of Arizona Geographic Information Systems Technology (UA GIST) integrates GIScience, cutting-edge GISystems, and geospatial technology, with management skills for use in government, corporate, non-profit, and academic settings.

This collection showcases the master's reports and projects from graduates of the Master's of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology Program.

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Graduating students are invited to submit their master's reports and projects each semester at the conclusion of their MS-GIST program.

  • Log in to the repository using your NetID and password
  • Click the "Submissions" link in the left sidebar (under "My Account")
  • Start a new submission in the MS-GIST (Master's Reports) collection
  • You will receive an email with a persistent link to your submission when it is approved.

If you have questions about the submission process, contact us at repository@u.library.arizona.edu.


Contact UA GIST for more information about the Master's Reports in this collection, or about the UA GIST program.

Recent Submissions


    Mason, Jennifer; Webb, Amber (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    The canyons and badlands in El Golfo, Sonora, México have been found fossiliferous with land mammal fossils from the Irvingtonian age and Calabrian stage of the Pleistocene Epoch. There has not been any extensive GIS analyses performed on the fossil sites in El Golfo. The goal of this project is to build a geodatabase with associated feature classes of various El Golfo paleontological, geological, and physiographical data. Next construct cartographic products to look for patterns of paleofauna distribution and create an online webmap available for the scientific community for visualization and analysis. Finally, geoprocess a DEM to obtain elevation, slope, and aspect to predict fossil locations. For the suitability study GPS data was obtained from previous fossil prospecting and was paired with a digital elevation model to see what elevation, aspect and slope was prevalent. Histograms were then used to identify which values were favorable to use in the study. Finally, ModelBuilder was used to create a map of ideal sites. The results of the analysis identified areas which are more probable for finding fossils. This project is of value for future international researchers and the data will contribute to the natural resource management of fossils in El Golfo.

    Mason, Jennifer; Wilshin, Liz (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    This study looks at historic housing discrimination based on race and ethnicity in Tucson, Arizona. By studying 2020 U.S. Census data spatially joined with Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) obtained from the Pima County Recorder's Office, the research explores the social and spatial implications of discriminatory practices. Through data collection and preparation combined with spatial analysis techniques, a web application was developed visualizing the impact of CCRs on housing patterns. The web application showcases subdivision polygons, demographic information from the Census, and allows users to explore the connections between CCRs and contemporary housing trends. While any findings from the spatial analyses are preliminary and require further verification due to potential data consistency issues, the web application serves as a proof of concept for the broader research initiative, "Mapping Racist Covenants." The study contributes to a deeper understanding of the lasting effects of discriminatory practices and provides valuable insights into the complex relationships between race, housing, and urban development.

    Mason, Jennifer; Lawrence, Brianne (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    On July 13th, 2021, the Dixie fire was reported after a Pacific Gas and Electric employee who saw flames about the size of 600 square feet within the Feather River Canyon. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, arrived within 25 minutes and began their efforts to contain the fire. The Feather River Canyon is known for having a scenic byway filled with large trees, steep canyons and high winds. The area had the perfect conditions for a wildfire due to exceptional drought causing moisture levels within the forest to be at historic lows. 963,309 acres were burned until the fire was contained on October 25th, 2021. Small towns and communities were destroyed leaving the area bare and without life. This study seeks to model vegetation responses after land cover changes following the Dixie Fire. The burn scar made on-the-ground measurements difficult and impractical so instead, the imagery from Landsat 8 is used to form the basis of the measurements. The vegetation changes is calculated using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the normalized burn ratio (NBR) showing vegetation regeneration. This study can help local and federal agencies determine bare ground exposure which could lead to increased flooding, and to determine where vegetation regeneration has occurred.
  • Lackawanna River Watershed

    Mason, Jennifer; Becker, Jacob (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    The purpose of this study is to create and display a spatial analysis study on the Lackawanna River Watershed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Specifically, an analysis that displays data containing contaminants in the air and water within the watershed study area, potentially correlating with the areas heavy use of coal mining historically. Using fugitive emission data to measure air contaminants and water pH, sulfates, and hard metals data to examine potentially polluted waters will show how this small yet essential watershed has been impacted. It is extremely important to run these studies to show the damage that is caused by coal mining and create preventative measures for the future. Protection of watersheds is paramount in conserving the local flora and fauna that feed us and nurture their surrounding ecosystems. Education and outreach can be a useful tool to make people aware of the issues at hand in their own backyards. With the devastating impacts a toxin filled watershed can have on its surrounding watersheds and environments, there should be more publicly accessible research studies that are user friendly to provide the proper awareness and education.
  • Assessing Habitat Value in Sonora for the Leopardus Pardalis

    Mason, Jennifer; Searles, Savanna (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The ocelot can be found from northern Argentina to southern United States, with a small known population in southern Texas and a possible population in southern Arizona. They are protected both in the United States and in Mexico as an endangered species. Northeast Sonora deserves more research as an important extent of the current ocelot range, and one of the last linkages for ocelots in the United States. Identifying appropriate territory in Sonora exposes reasonable corridors for movement north into Arizona, where a small number of sightings and historical presence of ocelots are confirmed. This project examines habitat suitability using satellite derived data on canopy cover, vegetative land cover, as well as utilizing proximity to lakes, and distance from roads as raster inputs to a weighted rank suitability model. Testing multiple models reinforces the suitability of high scoring areas that are shared between scenarios. A review of the result showcases the need for additional research on habitat fragmentation, movement or dispersal, and cross-border studies of the ocelot.
  • Spectral Assessment of Vegetational Recovery Following the Owyhee Mountains' 2015 Soda Fire

    Mason, Jennifer; Albertson, James (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    Between August 10 and August 23, 2015, the Soda Fire burned 279,144 acres of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem in Idaho’s Owyhee and Oregon’s Malheur counties, southwest of Idaho’s capital, Boise. This project attempts to examine, visualize, and explain the impacts of this fire on the sagebrush steppe, while demonstrating the need for boots-on-the-ground perspective to give context to spectral analyses like those used in this study. The dNBR analysis shows a largely net-neutral or positive change in vegetation in comparison to pre-fire values with a mean value of -0.02. An NDVI analysis of 2018 values showed an 11% increase in vegetation health over pre-fire values, while an analysis of values in 2020 showed a 17% increase over pre-fire values.

    Mason, Jennifer; Williams, Connor (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    Seattle is the largest city in Washington State and has an estimated tree canopy cover of 28.1%. The health of the urban forest is a critical part of what gives the city its identity, as well as providing important ecosystem services to the city’s residents. The city is slowly losing its canopy through time, and the neighborhoods where canopy loss is happening the fastest have histories of economic and racial inequality. Various departments across the municipality are responsible for managing trees and they need to work together to manage the urban forest. Unfortunately, these departments each track only the trees they are directly responsible for. In this study I describe the methods used to design and create a combined tree inventory of all trees tracked and managed by the city of Seattle. I then use the resulting combined tree inventory to perform several example analyses that an urban forester at the city might perform. I found that this was a reliable method to manage the complex integration of many contributing data sources into a single, simple, user-friendly dataset while also supporting the inevitable changes made to the contributing datasets as business needs evolve.
  • Assessing the Urban Heat Island Effect in New York City

    Mason, Jennifer; Erol, Eda (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    This paper investigates the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in New York City (NYC) by analyzing temperature data from 2016 and 2023. The aim is to compare the seven-year changes and forecast UHI conditions for 2030, considering the implications of climate change and urbanization. Using a comprehensive methodology, an interactive web application is developed to map the UHI phenomenon in NYC. Python and Node.js are utilized for web development, integrating OpenStreetMap, US Census and ZIP Code data for the basemap. Z-score calculations are conducted using Land Surface Temperature (LST) data to quantify temperature differences between urban and rural areas. Analysis of Urban vs. Rural Temperature incorporates LST data, air temperature measurements, day/night temperature patterns, and seasonal temperature patterns. Hot spot analysis identifies areas with significant temperature anomalies based on air-related data. By analyzing the temperature data from 2016 and 2023, this study provides insights into UHI intensity changes and spatial patterns over the seven-year period. Findings inform predictions of UHI conditions in 2030, which hold environmental significance. Implications for energy consumption, human health, and urban livability are examined, facilitating informed decision-making for sustainable urban design and UHI mitigation strategies.
  • Geographic Analysis of Heat-Related Deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona

    Mason, Jennifer; Snyder, Troy (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    Heat-related deaths are on the rise in Maricopa County, Arizona. Land use, climate change, and human development are contributing to increases in extreme heat, adversely impacting local populations. Though many factors affect heat-related deaths each year and not all of these are measurable, this study looks at the impacts of urban development and local temperature trends as two key players. The relationship between these factors and historic heat-related death data is explored, revealing areas where improvements can be made to better protect citizens from patterns of harsh summer heat. This study uses geographic analysis tools including supervised classification, inverse distance weighted (IDW) methods, choropleth mapping, and visual analysis to identify correlations in weather and environmental data with heat-related deaths. Results show that strategically identified areas can implement heat-reducing measures such as living walls, green roofs, and cooling centers to improve the quality of life for residents.

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Beall, Brad (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Severe wildfires are an all-too-common feature of the Western American landscape. Worse still, the frequency of such fires is on the increase. Each year, new wildfires add hundreds of thousands of fire-damaged acres to the millions of acres of forests burned in previous years. While some of these areas can recover naturally, forests that suffer prolonged, severe burning may not recover without human assistance. Due to the increase in frequency of such events, America’s reforestation needs have exceeded available reforestation resources (e.g., seedlings for replanting, forestry professionals experienced in wildfire remediation, labor for replanting and maintenance, etc.). Passage of the Federal REPLANT Act in November of 2021 means that more resources will be available in the future, but forestry managers must still decide which of the most severely damaged and at-risk areas of the American West should be given priority for remediation. Two commonly used tools for evaluating wildfire damage are the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Using reflectance data captured by satellites, these tools can be used to assess 1) wildfire boundaries, 2) relative wildfire severity, and 3) whether natural regrowth in a previously burned area is taking place. The goal of this project is to assess the effectiveness of NBR and NDVI values using the 2012 Pine Creek (Montana) Fire as a test case.

    Mason, Jennifer; Breeding, Landon (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    The potential benefits of incorporating digitized geologic maps and hyperspectral data for identifying new exploration mining targets at Frisco gold mine are explored in this project. The digitization of geologic maps converts valuable geologic information from traditional paper maps into a digital format, making it easier to analyze and integrate with other geological datasets. This integration helps identify spatial relationships, patterns, and trends in the geologic data, leading to the discovery of potential gold mineralization zones. Hyperspectral data is also crucial in enhancing exploration efforts. Hyperspectral imaging technology captures data across a broad range of wavelengths, enabling detailed characterization of mineralogy and alteration minerals associated with gold deposits. By analyzing hyperspectral data, geologists can identify spectral signatures indicative of gold mineralization, allowing for the precise delineation of potential exploration targets. Combining digitized geologic maps in Datamine Discover with hyperspectral data analysis provides a powerful toolset for gold mine exploration. The integrated approach efficiently identifies additional exploration targets by leveraging the spatial information from geologic maps and the spectral signatures captured by hyperspectral data. This workflow enhances understanding of the geology and mineralization processes, ultimately leading to improved targeting and resource estimation in gold mining operations.

    Mason, Jennifer; Gerski, Jessica (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    In a Marine Corps Installation public works department, the planning branch and Geospatial Information and Services branch needed a solution for collecting geospatial sites and data in a hybrid working environment. In the past, printed maps were passed back and forth between the branches with many details missed or not communicated properly. This project develops a web solution for collecting data and displaying the data at a glance. By using Field Maps, the planning branch can easily create new projects, modify existing information, or archive projects that are no longer needed. This data is displayed using standardized symbology on a web map and popups are enabled to show additional information as needed. A dashboard was also created to easily show the web map, project information, and number of project sites and project boundaries. Coordination and communication would still need to exist between the branches, but this solution greatly reduces the amount of hours and personnel needed to create and maintain the future project data.

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Schmidt, Carrie (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    AZSITE, the Arizona state geospatial inventory for cultural resources, is widely used by the archaeological community in the region. One application provided by AZSITE is a free web map for displaying generalized, non-sensitive versions of cultural resource data layers. For many planning and development professionals, AZSITE Public Mapping is their first exposure to the larger AZSITE geodatabase. The current AZSITE Public Mapping application has outdated interfaces and data layers. As a result, the application is underutilized. A modernized user interface with additional functionalities would turn this application into an excellent tool for non-archaeological professionals and further support the protection of cultural resources in the state. The purpose of this project is to create an updated AZSITE Public web application using Esri Web AppBuilder. The main data layer will display cultural resource sensitivity (site area) and survey area as a percentage of the total Township Range Section (TRS) section area. This layer and related tables will be generated from core AZSITE sites and projects data using a Python script that will be integrated into AZSITE’s weekly sync to the production server. To direct users to additional resources, more fields including land ownership divisions and links to cultural resource guidance have been included in the popup. These application enhancements will improve usability and better guide users to their next steps in cultural resource management.
  • Assessing Deoxygenation in Gulf of Mexico through Interpolation and 3D Modeling

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Lopez, Lucia (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    Deoxygenation poses a significant global concern, affecting oceans and marine reliant industries. The Gulf of Mexico stands out as an area with persistent hypoxia and yearly eutrophication events, resulting in reduced biodiversity, shifts in species distributions, and diminished fishery resources. Focusing on the central Gulf of Mexico 200 miles south of Louisiana, using World Ocean Database oxygen measurements over the year 2022, this study strives to shed light on methods used for predicting DO at various depths as well as the use of 3D modeling and Bathymetry to create advanced visuals on ocean-based elevation data. By applying Empirical Bayesian Interpolation in 3D, different transformations of the data are explored, and continuous surfaces of predicted DO levels at various depths are yielded. Models are assessed using cross-validation, semivariograms, and statistical performance measures. Among the three models tested, the highest performing model exhibited the lowest average standard error and mean error and with no applied data transformation or vertical trend removals. Exploring local Kriging models at different locations and standard errors, revealed larger standard errors at locations further away from known data points Arrived at confirmation of no hypoxic conditions in this Gulf location. 3D rendering through exportation of prediction surfaces as multidimensional voxel layers is exercised. Vertical and horizontal angled sections show the predicted DO measurements as intersections of different slopes, as well as isosurfaces visualizing depths showing the same DO values. These advanced 3D renderings exhibited that predicted DO concentrations are at their lowest between 66 and 1,000 meters.
  • Techniques in Drought Monitoring Featuring Central Valley, CA

    Mason, Jennifer; Stewart, Bridgette (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Central Valley, California, is one of the largest producers of agricultural products in the United States; however, with its on-going drought conditions, farmers have difficulty maintaining yields with a sparse water supply. California has always gone through cyclic droughts, and with remote sensing, these droughts can be investigated to see how they impact the California agribusiness. This project investigates techniques to analyze drought conditions in the agricultural regions of the Central Valley by utilizing imagery analysis through USGS Earth Explorer and manipulating the data in ArcGIS Pro. This project explores change detection between seasons as well as methods that include indices such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and Normalized Difference Moisture Index to see how well these procedures accurately depict drought conditions in the Central Valley. Indices are calculated by plugging formulas into the raster calculator function to highlight the ranges within an area indicating drought conditions. Change detection was performed to compare seasons and years to identify changes affected by the drought. The results show how effective change detection analysis is over the 7-year period, and if the normalized difference indices helped with identifying areas where agriculture suffered the most.
  • Is There a Spatial Relationship Between High PFAS Contamination in Surface Water and Communities of Color in Michigan based on 2021 Census Data ?

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Rameshbabu, Poonam Reddy (The University of Arizona., 2023-07)
    Per- and Polyfluorinated substances, also known as PFAS, are a very large group of synthetic chemicals that include Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and thousands of other compounds. Due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS are called forever chemicals and there is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to harmful health effects. This project focuses on the geospatial analysis of the levels of most common PFAS compounds PFOA and PFOS detected in 2,047 surface water samples collected between 2001 and 2021 by the State of Michigan’s Water Resources Division, published in November 2021. The objective of this master’s project is to identify if there is a relationship between high PFAS contamination in surface water to communities of color at a census tract level based on 2021 census data. This evaluation uses geospatial visual and regression analysis to provide an understanding of the relationship between PFOA and PFOS contamination in surface water compared to areas of significant African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native and Asian population. It can be concluded that there is a spatial relationship between high PFOA and PFOS contamination in surface water and minority population in Michigan. Although the results of this analysis generally identify a spatially clustered, significant relationship between the variables, this project uses publicly available data and did not consider other factors that could influence population and /or PFAS contamination in surface water. So, further analysis and consideration of other environmental factors that could influence the variables may be necessary.

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Munguia, Estevan (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Knowing the location of assets is an important part of many companies’ Geographic Information Systems and data management systems. Unfortunately, precisely accurate locations are not always available to those who would need it. This is the case at Tucson Water where the vast amount of water infrastructure is not adequately accurate. For field personnel whose duties requires locating assets, insufficiently accurate location data can add hours of unnecessary work, either searching or using old engineering documents. At Tucson Water previous efforts to collect highly accurate location data have been contracted to outside companies, costing the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars and relinquishing control on how the data was collected. Recently, Tucson Water decided to use its own Global Positioning Systems technology for geocoding water meter data, in part, to help facilitate other projects. Rather than contracting this project out, Tucson Water opted to utilize agency resources and carry out this project internally. In this paper I will demonstrate an ESRI web GIS solution to collect, store and view water meter data collected with GPS technology. I discuss the different tools used including a web map, Field Maps, Experience Builder, Dashboard and App Studio mobile app. These are combined with a Trimble Global Navigation Satellite Systems receiver to capture sub-foot accurate locations for water meters. I will show that this is an elegant, effective, and scalable solution for Tucson Water.
  • Phoenix High Crimes: Exploring the Spatial Relationship Between Crimes and Dispensaries

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Miller, Steven (The University of Arizona., 2023-08)
    Wherever societies have formed; there always been crime. Unfortunately, Phoenix Arizona is no exception. High crime rates have been a mark on the city since the late 60’s and continue to be a significant issue to this day. This project investigates the spatial relationship between crime and the location of marijuana dispensaries throughout the city. The dispensary locations are compared to results from community swimming pools, public sports complexes, police stations, hospitals, convenience stores, specifically Circle K and QuikTrip (QT) locations in the city limits of Phoenix Arizona. The crime data for this project has been collected from November 2018 to April 2023 by the Phoenix Police Department and the shapefile is set up in a grid system based largely on Phoenix city blocks. The crimes used in the data include homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts, motor vehicle thefts, arsons, and drug offenses. This project uses the Ordinary Least Squares regression techniques to determine the relationship between crime, dispensaries, and the other variables. Dispensaries were found to have a positive relationship with crime, although the model did not perform strongly and contained bias. No one variable was able to produce a strong performance, but perhaps future studies will be able to combine more socioeconomic and other demographic variables to find stronger Adjusted R-Squared values.
  • Analyzing Potential Optimal Corridors for the Construction of a Lunar South Pole Oxygen Pipeline

    Lukinbeal, Chris; Tyson, Arthur (The University of Arizona., 2023-07)
    The need to establish a permanent presence on the Lunar surface for scientific, as well as economic reasons has only gradually increased within the past 20 years. The Moon contains many precious elements such as Titanium, Aluminum, Iron, and a variety of other metals. These resources can be used for in-situ construction and development of Lunar infrastructure as well as extracted for Earth based economic prosperity. However, to feasibly plan for the construction of any type of mining operations, humans and drones must be able to sustain themselves without heavy reliance on Earth-based deliveries. The most essential material available to accomplish this lies in trapped ice located within the Polar regions which can be extracted and transported as gaseous oxygen from the source to a Lunar base using a pipeline. This project analyzes the Lunar terrain and soil content to propose multiple corridors most suitable for construction of a pipeline. Digital Terrain Elevation data and Lunar craters with an 8-mile buffer from the center as barriers were input to determine Distance Allocation. Using the Optimal Route Analysis Tool, Distance Allocation and direction degrees were analyzed to calculate the optimal pipeline routes. Results show three separate suitable routes from highest concentrations of Lunar ice to three potential Lunar bases. Routes differ based on distance, terrain, and proximity to suitable landing sites. The analysis of this project seeks to weigh each route based on factors of feasibility, thereby allowing for a proposed best route. This analysis will help provide potential options during future planning of a lunar pipeline as well as the locations for a Lunar base, and ice extraction site.

    Mason, Jennifer; Hall, Cassandra (The University of Arizona., 2023-05)
    In March 2021, an Australian publicly listed company agreed to acquire the Colosseum Gold Mine, a past-producing precious metal property in San Bernadino County, California. GeoGRAFX Consulting LLC of Tucson, Arizona, was contracted to organize the existing data. The company received 122 boxes of files and maps for the Colosseum project. The data was generated from 1972 through 1993. The quality of the files and maps was degraded due to their age and storage conditions. GeoGRAFX compiled a verified digital project database of all obtained land status, geology, topography, drill hole, assay, and lithology data used in the resource evaluation from the files provided for the Colosseum project. Previous companies for the Colosseum Mine created three local mine grids between the early 1970s and 1987. The challenge and purpose of this Master’s Project was to use these three local mine grids to integrate with real-world coordinates, and field verify the results. The data verification checks performed internally by GeoGRAFX staff and external and independent reviews have resulted in sufficient validation of the entire historic database at the Colosseum Project. The company used the data to model the geology and calculate a Mineral Resource.

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