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In a bid to record the shape of the mountain's four faces, lasers have been used to scan Mount Rushmore

Precise lasers are being used to scan the four presidential faces of Mount Rushmore in an effort to record the measurements for historic documentation and preservation.

By Associated Press / May 23, 2010

The presidential monument Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

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Crews using lasers are creating a three-dimensional digital scan of the four presidential faces and other features of the Mount Rushmore National Monument for historic documentation and preservation.

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National Park Service spokesman Nav Singh said the 3-D modeling also will allow virtual tours of the monument.

"This has tremendous potential for education and it's really exciting stuff," he said.

Singh said the laser-scanning project at the granite monument began on May 8 and is slated to wrap up this weekend.

The work is being done by the National Park Service and CyArk, a nonprofit project of the Kacyra Family Foundation based in California. The Scottish government is providing resources and technology to perform the 3-D laser documentation, Singh said.

The Kacyra Family Foundation was formed to foster humanitarian, cultural and scientific endeavors, and says it is committed to preserving world heritage. Ben Kacyra, who heads the foundation, immigrated from Iraq in 1964.

"Being an immigrant, the monument is a symbol that I cherish," he said. "It's a symbol for the U.S. and a symbol for the world."

The Scottish government also is providing resources and technology to perform the 3-D laser documentation, Singh said. It's part of the so-called the "Scottish 10," a project with a goal of scanning five historic sites in Scotland and five in other countries. Mount Rushmore is the first site outside Scotland to be laser-scanned, he said.

Singh said if the monument ever is damaged, the data would allow workers to make repairs to replicate the sculpture to the millimeter.

"It's the first time a colossal carving of this scale has ever been attempted to be digitally surveyed to the accuracy we're talking about here," he said.

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