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Interactive Online Geologic Block Modeling

Rowan Cockett
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Abstract

Geology is a highly visual science, and many disciplines require spatial awareness and manipulation. For example, interpreting cross-sections, geophysical data, geologic maps, or plotting data on a stereonet all require various levels of spatial abilities. These skills are often not taught in the geosciences and many learners struggle with spatial relations, manipulations, and penetrative abilities. A newly developed program, Visible Geology, allows for learners to be introduced to many geologic concepts and spatial skills in a virtual environment. Visible Geology is a web-based, three-dimensional environment where users can create and interrogate their own geologic block models. The program begins with a blank model, users then add geologic beds (with custom thickness, color, and properties) and can add geologic deformation events like tilting, folding, and faulting. Additionally, simple intrusive dikes and unconformities can be modeled. As in a real environment, these geologic deformation events add together to create complex formations.

Videos, animations, and images that show students one concept at a time are readily available; Visible Geology, however, allows users to simply and interactively create these models and animations. Users cannot only spatially manipulate their geologic model, but can create cross-sections and boreholes to practice their visualizing inside the models. The process of creating a model, physical or virtual, is an engaging and meaningful process that has substantial benefits for student or learner. Visible Geology allows learners, not just the teachers, access to these modeling tools such that the students can become invested and engaged in creating geologic models. Teachers are able to ask students to build geologic structures from scratch rather than showing them a pre-made video or picture. Students are thus able to gain geologic intuitions through this process of discovery-based learning.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #120140© 2014 AAPG Hedberg Conference 3D Structural Geologic Interpretation: Earth, Mind and Machine, June 23-27, 2013, Reno, Nevada