Visualization of large data sets using high-resolution 3-D tools for improved geologic mapping and modeling

Andrew O'Keeffe, Bruce Napier, Donald A. Keefer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Very large data sets are increasingly common in geologic mapping and modeling projects. The computer requirements for using data like airborne lidar, high-resolution aerial photography, and 3-D petrophysical models are manageable with current desktop systems. Visualization and analysis software has not kept pace with the rapid changes in size and availability of these data. The British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) have separately invested in developing visualization and analysis software allowing geologists to integrate these large data sets into their workflow, allowing mappers and modelers to see their data like never before, and improving the accuracy of interpretations made from these data. The BGS has teamed with Virtalis, a company specializing in development of virtual reality software, to produce GeoVisionary, a high-resolution 3-D visualization software package for the earth sciences. GeoVisionary is able to ingest large collections of raster data (e.g., lidar, DOQs) and combine these with vector data sets (e.g., shapefiles, DXF), allowing the user to fly through hundreds of megabytes of data in real time. Originally developed to assist field reconnaissance in surficial mapping projects, GeoVisionary has evolved to handle a wide range of subsurface data, becoming a tool for visualization and analysis of 3-D geologic modeling projects, supporting project areas ranging from a drill site to over 200,000 square kilometers. Recent work is extending the functionality of GeoVisionary to include very large 3-D raster or voxel models (e.g., groundwater flow model results, atmospheric modeling results). Recent work at the ISGS, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Illinois, has led to funding by the US Department of Energy to develop a 3-D visualization and analysis application for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects. This software, RVA, will be an open-source extension to the Paraview visualization and analysis software and will allow users to interactively view and query 3-D geologic data and models, and transient oil reservoir simulations of multiple fluid phases (e.g., oil, water, solvent, polymer) common in EOR projects. Further extension of the import utilities in RVA would allow it to work with groundwater flow or atmospheric model results.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
Place of PublicationBoulder, CO
PublisherGeological Society of America
ISBN (Print)0016-7592
StatePublished - 2011


  • ISGS


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