Defining a Three-Dimensional Geological Map for the Appalachian Plateau
Our consideration of what constitutes a 3-dimensional geologic map began in the early 1990s. At the time software supporting 3-dimensions was very expensive, and although we had accumulated much raw data, little of it was processed in any form that would allow development of useful 3-demensional models. Also the regional nature of most of our work made it impossible to produce useful hard copy publications that offered a true 3-dimensional perspective.
In 1995, the West Virginia Survey began developing a GIS-based inventory. This program has resulted in processing much legacy raw data.
We have developed a technique that involves starting with GOS grids of economically important mineral resource data from CBMP, extrapolating or interpolating non-economic horizons, intersecting the horizons with high resolution digital evaluation models, and using the resulting outcrops to define unit boundaries. Finally these are field checked and adjusted as necessary to produce traditional 2-dimensional geologic maps and data sets. In addition we archive elevation grids for all important horizons and other 3-dimensional data that we currently are not distributing.
It is unlikely that hard copy 3-dimensional geologic maps will ever be possible, but it is very possible that 3-dimensional geologic maps consisting of data and programming for one or more platform will become common in the future The important issue for geologic data providers is to decide what information can be bundled into a package that will constitute a 3-dimensional geologic map and what data formats will be most universally useful.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009