Mapping Death in Grand Canyon


Over the Edge 3D Grand Canyon Death Map extract
Over the Edge 3D Grand Canyon Death Map extract


Friday, March 1, 2019


Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom (Room 221)
301 E Orange St, Tempe, AZ 85281


Kenneth Field, PhD

Presentation Abstract

Over 700 known deaths have occurred in Grand Canyon from the first river exploration by John Wesley Powell in 1869 to present day. Causes range from suicides to accidental drownings, heatstroke, snake bite, flash floods, aircraft collisions, crashes and even murder. Based on the book ‘Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon’ by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers, this map illustrates the geography of deathly incidents. It uses a pan-sharpening technique to create a crisp, vibrant combination of layer tints and hillshades. The colours are defined to allow the map to be viewed in normal two dimensional viewing but in 3D when viewed using chromadepth glasses.

The map provides a dramatic, visually engaging illustration of a unique dataset and maintain the first geocoded display of the complete record of deaths in Grand Canyon. In so doing, it illustrates the development and application of novel cartographic approaches. Vignettes describing the incidents bring the quantity of death into perspective through the telling of short individual stories, some fantastic, some tragic. The presentation will discuss the map’s creation in 2012, a recent update, and also the response to its publication. There were some very real issues faced in portraying an often sensitive subject matter, and some of the failures in this respect and the lessons learned will be explored.