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Chapter 11

Mn/Model Implementation


By G. Joseph Hudak, Elizabeth Hobbs, Allyson Brooks, Guy Harper, Doug Differt, and Dennis Carlson

Statewide Survey Impelmentation Model Map



Chapter 11 Table of Contents
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Archival Location of Mn/Model
11.3 Access
        11.3.1 MnDOT
        11.3.2 External Users
        11.3.3 General Public
11.4 Training
11.5 Survey Designs
11.6 Enhancements
11.7 Maintenance Program
        11.7.1 Model Updates and Improvements
        11.7.2 Software and Hardware
        11.7.3 Data Collection
11.8 Applications for Transportation and Land Use Planning
11.9 Applications for Environmental Planning



Chapter 11 reviews Mn/Model’s implementation with MnDOT. Mn/Model developed a large environmental and cultural resource database and produced three separate types of models: archaeological site probability, archaeological survey probability, and archaeological survey implementation. These data and models have a wide variety of uses. A number of users, both within and outside of MnDOT, have expressed interest in having the models to consult. Some of the data and all of the models contain sensitive information. This chapter discusses where Mn/Model and all data layers will be archived within MnDOT, who will have access to this information, how access will be achieved, and training requirements. A program is being implemented to ensure that Mn/Model would continually be maintained and revised.


The archaeological community in Minnesota expressed concerns that Mn/Model be a dynamic rather than static entity. As a static product Mn/Model would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, negating its value as a planning tool. Therefore, MnDOT made a commitment to upgrade the models on a regular basis.


MnDOT's Cultural Resource Unit is implementing a program to integrate Mn/Model into its survey program. Mn/Model will be continually tested and upgraded along with the results of archaeological inventories.


The complete Mn/Model Implementation Plan can be viewed on the Mn/Model web site (mndot.gov/mnmodel).


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Mn/Model data, models, and related files will be stored in several places at MnDOT, depending on their uses and sensitivity. Environmental data, requiring wide access by users within MnDOT, are stored on a shared drive of MnDOT's GIS data server. Cultural resources data and models, which have restricted access, are stored on a separate share of the same server. The Office of Business Operations, GIS/Project Administration Unit maintains the server.


Layers include all environmental data assembled to construct the model plus the archaeological and historic sites database provided by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The statewide reference layer used when viewing Mn/Model is the GIS MnDOT base map. This product was developed internally by MnDOT as a statewide map of all federal-aid, state-aid, county, township, and city roads. It is available on the MnDOT server, from the MnDOT cartographic unit on CD-ROM, and at mndot.gov/maps/gdma.


Metadata for Mn/Model environmental and cultural resource data layers and for models are stored in HTML format in the Metadata directory of the corresponding server share. Source metadata files will be maintained and updated under the supervision of the Mn/Model GIS Technical Lead. Metadata files will be published on the Mn/Model web site, mndot.gov/mnmodel.


Files required to maintain and update the models are stored on a workstation maintained in the Office of Business Operations, GIS/Project Administration Unit. The Mn/Model GIS Technical Lead and persons working under her supervision have access to these data. This workstation is backed up weekly. The original source data, derived variables, and multiple model versions are archived on tapes, CD-ROMs, zip disks, and diskettes in the Office of Business Operations, GIS/Project Administration Unit, under the supervision and control of the Mn/Model GIS Technical Lead.


The Mn/Model Final Report and other related documents will be maintained by the Mn/Model GIS Technical Lead and published on the Mn/Model web site, mndot.gov/mnmodel.


As stated in earlier chapters, Mn/Model was developed in ArcInfo GRID and is viewed and manipulated in ArcView with the Spatial Analyst extension. Both software packages are products of ESRI. MnDOT plans to revise and maintain Mn/Model within the confines of these software packages.


Table 11.1. Data layers and models available to MnDOT users

Environmental data

Digital Elevation Models

National Wetlands Inventory

Landform Sediment Assemblages


Bearing trees

Marschner historic vegetation

Trygg historic, cultural, and environmental data




Cultural resource data
Archaeological sites
Historic structures
Negative Survey Points


Site probability model

Survey probability model

Survey implementation model

Stability model

Confidence model



Ecological Classification System boundaries

Archaeological Resource Region boundaries



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Within MnDOT, environmental data layers (Table 11.1) are accessible to all users on a shared drive of the GIS server. For the general public and other agencies, most of the environmental data layers are already available on-line from the Minnesota DNR Data Deli or Land Management Information Center (mngeo.state.mn.us/chouse).


The only environmental data created by and held only at MnDOT are the Landform Sediment Assemblages. These can be made available on CD-ROM by contacting sending an e-mail request to mnmodel@state.mn.us.


Cultural resource data used to develop Mn/Model and the models themselves are considered sensitive information, with the following exceptions: the ARCH_REG GIS coverage. Anyone desiring a copy of the ARCH_REG coverage can acquire it by sending an e-mail request to mnmodel@state.mn.us.


The distribution of other cultural resource data by MnDOT is restricted by copyright and data privacy legislation. Access to these data are described below.


11.3.1 MnDOT

The primary users of Mn/Model are MnDOT’s cultural resource staff. The archaeological predictive site, survey, and survey implementation models will be interpreted only by cultural resource professionals with the appropriate educational background and professional expertise.

The survey implementation models will be available in view-only format for pre-design engineers and transportation planners within MnDOT. The intent is for pre-design engineers and transportation planners designating potential corridors to have a means of observing which areas have a high potential for precontact archaeological properties at the start of the planning process. However, in terms of interpreting this data for environmental and/or scoping documents, all analysis will remain within the purview of the Cultural Resource Unit.


11.3.2 External Users

Since the beginning of the project, concern about misuse of the models has increased. Consequently, MnDOT will negotiate a data licensing agreement with qualified users regarding their use of Mn/Model models. Qualified users must meet all of the following criteria:


At present, qualified users include the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Other agencies and private parties needing interpretation of the models for their specific projects must consult with the State Historic Preservation Office.

External users must also contact the SHPO for information regarding the locations of known archaeological sites. Information on burial locations must be obtained from the Office of the State Archaeologist. Known site locations on federal or tribal property must be acquired directly through the federal land managing agency or Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO).


MnDOT will be using a data licensing agreement to protect the use of Mn/Model models by qualified users. The text of this agreement can be found on the Mn/Model web site (mndot.gov/mnmodel). Agencies with a qualified archaeologist on staff who has completed Mn/Model training must agree to the terms of the license agreement. The qualified archaeologist becomes the licensed user. When the agreement is executed, MnDOT will transfer copies of the data and models on CD-ROM to the licensed user. MnDOT will also transfer a copy of the Mn/Model data access tool (ArcView extension) and its related files to the licensed user.


11.3.3 General Public

The GIS coverages of known archaeological sites and historic structures were developed from State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) databases provided for MnDOT's internal use. Some of these data are from federal sources and are exempted from disclosure by Section 552 of the United States Freedom of Information Act. Members of the general public needing these data must contact SHPO.


Trygg maps are copyrighted by the Trygg family. MnDOT does not have an agreement with the family allowing distribution of the digitized versions of these maps to the public.


Authority to limit access to the archaeological predictive models is exercised under the Minnesota Data Practices Act (Minn. Stat., Ch. 13), since the disclosure of probable locations of archaeological sites described in these models is likely to substantially jeopardize the security of these resources due to theft, tampering, improper use, trespass, or physical injury under Minn. Stat., sec. 13.37, subd. 1(a), and Mn/Model was developed with significant expenditure of public funds by MN/DOT, and has a commercial value under Minn. Stat., Sec. 13.03, subd. 3. Consequently, the models will not be distributed to the general public. They will be available for viewing (graphic format only) on the Mn/Model web site (www.mnmodel.dot.state.mn.us).


Professional archaeologists conducting scientific research will have access to archaeological site probability models, survey probability and survey implementation models in a graphic format. This information will be available through the Cultural Resource Unit of MnDOT.


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ArcView is the primary GIS tool used for viewing and querying the cultural resource data and the geomorphology models. ArcView training is the foundation for the use of Mn/Model. In addition, ArcView's Spatial Analyst extension is required to use Mn/Model archaeological predictive models and some environmental data. Specific training on Mn/Model and the geomorphic models will be required of those who use these resources. MnDOT reserves the right to charge external stakeholders for attendance at training sessions.



The site, survey, and survey implementation models will be continually revised and updated. In order to keep Mn/Model in a dynamic state, continued field verification of the models' results will be required.


The 1998 field season was used to analyze Mn/Model's preliminary probability surfaces with respect to the results of archaeological inventories. Consultants hired to survey MnDOT's project areas were asked to compare their intuitive models with Mn/Model=s site probability surfaces. The archaeologists were required to submit survey designs, based on their intuitive model of project areas, and to explain the basis for their approach. They then analyzed the results of their archaeological inventories with respect to Mn/Model's site probability surfaces. Areas that Mn/Model determined to be zones of high probability, which were not identified as such by the archaeologists’ intuitive model, were required to be inventoried. This methodology for testing Mn/Model will be continued.


Another methodology MnDOT will use for testing Mn/Model is the application of simple random sampling techniques. Simple random sampling would follow the same methodological approach designed for the 1996 field season. A computer generated series of random points are set along the corridor to cover a specified percentage of the entire project area, without weighting high, medium, or low probability areas for inventory purposes. The percent of the project area to be inventoried will be determined on a project by project basis. The archaeologists will survey a pre-determined amount of acreage around each point but will remain within construction limits. This methodology will not be applicable to the analysis of historic archaeological properties. For these, MnDOT will continue to define areas of concern based on background research.


For extremely long corridors or large project areas, MnDOT may use a weighted or stratified random sampling strategy. In these cases, MnDOT will conduct a 100% inventory of all areas falling within the high probability category while surveying only a percentage of the area in medium and low/unknown probability zones on a project by project basis. Locations of these surveys will be determined by computer generated random points. Areas with unknown site potential will always be surveyed to a greater extent than those with low or possibly low potential because these kinds of environments have not been adequately surveyed in the past. As an example, survey extent requirements may resemble those in the table below.


Site Potential
Required Survey Extent
Possibly High


Suspected High
Possibly Medium
Suspected Medium
Possibly Low


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Enhancements to Mn/Model may be made through the Cultural Resource Unit, Office of Environmental Services, or the GIS Support Section, Office of Business Operations. Enhancements planned for Mn/Model include:


Future Mn/Model enhancements may also include adding cultural resource and environmental data that have been created or refined since development of the original model. Enhancements are discussed in more detail in Section 13.5.



11.7.1 Model Updates and Improvements

Mn/Model is a dynamic product and MnDOT is committed to improving and updating the models as new and more accurate data becomes available. This includes improved archaeological data from surveys and improved data layers. As a static product Mn/Model would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, negating its value as a planning tool. We are also committed to researching and promoting the integration of the models and data layers into MnDOT=s decision-making process.


Model improvements planned for Phase 4 of Mn/Model include:


MnDOT's Cultural Resource Unit is implementing a program to integrate Mn/Model into its survey program. Mn/Model will be continually tested and upgraded along with the results of archaeological inventories.

11.7.2 Software and Hardware

Creation and maintenance is a computationally intense process. MnDOT will maintain and upgrade the software and hardware needed for this purpose to ensure the continued high quality production of the models.


Since the original development of the models, MnDOT has:


Planned updates include:


11.7.3 Data Collection

To improve future predictive models will require both correcting and updating existing data and acquiring new data. New and better data are more likely to improve the models more than changes in modeling procedures.


The development of Mn/Model identified major issues with data quality. These are discussed below, along with MnDOT's plans for updating and improving the data. Known Archaeological Sites

Numerous problems were noted with the cultural resource data, particularly with the recordation of early sites. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will work cooperatively to ensure that the data recorded on archaeological site forms are of sufficient quality to enter into Mn/Model. This will require that temporal designations are delineated appropriately and are based on either diagnostic artifacts or absolute chronology from features. Geological information on the depositional environment will be required on site forms to ensure site integrity. Through Mn/Model it became apparent that many sites were recorded in unstable depositional environments and therefore not in their original context. Further, numerous UTM coordinates that were reported for site location purposes were found to be inaccurate. The use of incorrect temporal, location, or deposition information skews model results. Archaeological site forms will need to be carefully examined for correct information before these data may be input for Mn/Model revisions.


MnDOT has performed extensive quality control on the SHPO archaeological database. This involved using GIS to identify obvious locational errors. Where possible, MnDOT provided SHPO with corrected coordinates or UTM zones. Sites for which correct coordinates could not be readily determined without reference to the site files were returned to SHPO for correction. As more site coordinates are corrected, the quality of the models will improve.


SHPO now has plans to map site boundaries as polygons. MnDOT will assist by providing GIS guidance. The final product will greatly improve the models, particularly in regions with few known sites. With this innovation, all cells containing archaeological resources will be considered for modeling, rather than simply the centroids of all known sites, greatly increasing the number of samples in the database.


In addition, MnDOT and SHPO will work together to assure that the Mn/Model archaeological database is updated at least quarterly. Having current site data at MnDOT will save time by reducing the number of trips Cultural Resources staff makes to the SHPO office. Surveyed Places

The survey probability models depend on records of places that archaeologists have surveyed. The current archaeological database records only sampled points from locations that were surveyed, but no sites were found. These negative survey points were taken from only a limited number of probabilistic surveys. For survey probability model development, sites were also counted as surveyed places. The ideal database would be digitized polygons of the boundaries of all surveys. SHPO now has plans to map survey boundaries as polygons. MnDOT will assist by providing GIS guidance.


By recording the locations of more surveys, we should be able to develop survey probability models with a smaller percentage of low probability. This, in turn, will decrease the area of unknown site potential in the survey implementation model. Digital Elevation Models

When Mn/Model was begun in 1995, 1:24,000 scale USGS Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) had not yet been completed for the entire state. Of those that were completed, some had poor data quality. One update of the DEMs was made before Phase 3 modeling. However, the newly available DEMs still did not cover the entire state.


USGS has now completed mapping the entire state at a scale of 1:24,000. They have also replaced most Level 1 DEMs that exhibit banding. MnDOT has updated the Mn/Model elevation data. This should greatly benefit future modeling, since elevation variables are so important to the models in most regions. Surface Hydrology National Wetlands Inventory

National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) spatial data have not changed since they were first acquired by Mn/Model. However, LMIC has updated and improved the attribute data. MnDOT is in the process of acquiring the updated data to replace the original version. In addition, new classifications of NWI will be investigated for use in modeling. MnDOT will continue to use wetlands from this database for modeling. However, in the future, lakes and double line rivers will be taken from the DNR Lakes coverages. Streams

Mn/Model used the MnDOT BaseMap as the source for locations of perennial and intermittent streams. These GIS layers were digitized from the USGS 7.5-minute quadrangles and have no attributes. MnDOT has no plans to update these data. For future modeling, these will be replaced by the DNR streams data. DNR Lakes and Streams

Using NWI lake polygons and the MnDOT BaseMap lakes and streams lines, DNR has created two new 1:24,000 hydrology datasets: DNR 24K Lakes and DNR 24K Streams


DNR 24K Streams are coded with stream class (perennial or intermittent) and status as designated trout streams. The data have been enhanced by connectivity through lakes, rivers, and small wetland basins. They are fully integrated with the DNR 24K Lakes data, as overland streams terminate at lake and river shorelines, whereas MnDOT BaseMap streams do not always meet the shorelines. In addition, DNR has added features missing from the BaseMap.


DNR 24K Lakes are derived primarily from NWI lake polygons. Only 200 quads are derived from MnDOT BaseMap lake delineations. The NWI attributes have been transformed into habitat types based on depth and associations with deepwater habitats and rivers. Polygons are coded for water body type, habitat class (limited information), depth class (limited information, a single break around 6 meters), lake name, lake class, and source of lake outline. County Soil Surveys

Mn/Model acquired digital county soil survey data for 27 counties. These data are of varying quality. High quality SSURGO soils data from NRCS are now available for 18 Minnesota counties. These include 16 counties for which no data were available previously. MnDOT will check for and acquire SSURGO soils data every six months until the soils coverage is statewide. Geomorphology

MnDOT plans to continue mapping Landform/Sediment Assemblages for major river valleys and aeolian sediment as funding can be made available. Current mapping priorities include the Mississippi River from St. Paul to St. Cloud, the Anoka Sand Plain, low order streams in southeastern Minnesota, and the Zumbro River. In addition, MnDOT has acquired the US Army Corps of Engineers mapping for the Mississippi River from St. Paul to Iowa. However, this coverage does not include any subsurface information. MnDOT plans to add subsurface information to the coverage as part of its mapping program.

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Although originally a tool for cultural resource managers, Mn/Model evolved into a more versatile product. With the centralization of statewide environmental data into one system, Mn/Model is now an instrument through which MnDOT planners can access a range of environmental information to use in conjunction with traffic counts, accident data, pavement management information, and other data available on the MnDOT server. For transportation planning purposes the model allows planners and pre-design engineers the opportunity to avoid locating their corridors in areas with a high probability for containing a precontact archaeological property. The use of these environmental and cultural resource data in the earliest stages of planning and pre-design supports Context Sensitive Design and helps streamline cultural resource reviews.



As stated earlier Mn/Model, aside of its uses for cultural resource management, is also a resource for environmental management. The database contains a significant number of environmental data layers that can be accessed for scoping documents, environmental assessments, environmental review, and environmental impact statements. Environmental data acquired for Mn/Model will be used by the Environmental Services Unit to support streamlining of the environmental review process.


The first enhancement to Mn/Model was the prototype Least Cost Path Analysis Application (LCP), an ArcView application. LCP demonstrates a simple, automated procedure to compare alternative corridor alignments. Applications such as LCP could provide spatial decision support system for environmental, land use, and transportation planners. Factors modeled in the prototype version of this application include cost of archaeological survey, mitigation costs for historic structures, wetland values, right of way acquisition costs, and the costs of crossing surface water features. Such applications could model other environmental impacts, construction costs associated with length and gradients, and soil characteristics. Significant natural areas, including the locations of rare and endangered species could also be considered. Economic and social factors may be factored into the analysis as well.


The current LCP application is a prototype that works for only one small part of Minnesota. It has not been implemented at MnDOT for general use.

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The Mn/Model Final Report (Phases 1-3) is available on CD-ROM. Copies may be requested by visiting the contact page.


MnModel Orange Bar Logo


MnModel was financed with Transportation Enhancement and State Planning and Research funds from the Federal Highway Administration and a Minnesota Department of Transportation match.


Copyright Notice

The MnModel process and the predictive models it produced are copyrighted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), 2000. They may not be used without MnDOT's consent.