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Ground-breaking Application takes Geoscience Data to Dizzy Heights

Ground-breaking Application takes Geoscience Data to Dizzy Heights

The stunning results of a collaborative software development project between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Virtalis will be showcased on Booth 1320 at the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers’ (EAGE) Conference on 11-14th June in London.

GeoVisionary enables the visualisation of underlying geological modelling in 3D and allows other related geoscience data, such as geotechnical, environmental and geochemical information to be overlaid onto it, giving a complete picture. GeoVisionary is the result of months of development effort between Virtalis and BGS. The two teams first collaborated two years ago, when the British Geological Survey (BGS) installed two identical Virtalis StereoWorks visualisation systems at its Keyworth HQ and its Edinburgh office. From the outset, BGS realised the power of 3D viewing as its geological teams relished being able to explore their geological data in full stereoscopic 3D.

Bill Hatton, Programme Manager, Information Systems Development at BGS, explained: “Our geoscientists use GeoVisionary software to view Snowdon in stereoscopic 3D using Virtalis StereoWorks hold unparalleled geological, landscape and subsurface data for any area within Britain. Geologists who have tried out the demonstration version have found it jaw dropping. GeoVisionary allows them to fully prepare, and evaluate many interpretive ideas, before they begin fieldwork. The link between already powerful GIS systems and the immersive visualisation allows teams to collaboratively map and, for the first time, record information back to corporate databases in BGS.”

BGS Geologists use GeoVisionary software to view geological, landscape and subsurface data GeoVisionary has been designed in such an open way that it is not limited to the British shores or BGS data. BGS has already used the application to validate and plan projects internationally. BGS has also gathered planetary data, such as that freely provided by NASA, and investigated how best to view and interpret such data. Bruce Napier, Leader of BGS’ Virtual Field Reconnaissance Project remarked: “GeoVisionary is a huge leap in geoscience visualisation technology. Never before have geoscientists had such advanced visualisation at their fingertips. The full richness of our geoscience data can be visualised in seconds. What began as a simple field reconnaissance project for geologists has numerous uses for a diverse range of organisations.”

Andrew Connell, Technical Director at Virtalis, commented: “What marks GeoVisionary out is the quality and detail of the images we have achieved and its speed. It is possible to “fly” to any part of the UK in seconds. BGS Geologists use GeoVisionary software to conduct detailed reviews of geological, landscape and subsurface dataNor do you need a powerful workstation to operate GeoVisionary. We designed the System for geologists in the field using laptops. Even so, there are 70 billion triangles in the data set and 15 trillion pixels in the images which is understandable when you consider there are height measurements every five metres and photographs of the terrain give a pixel for every 25 cm. We have built in seamless streaming, merging detailed pictures, geological notes, historical maps and subsurface data from boreholes in real time. GeoVisionary is infinitely scalable because the system only remembers where it is looking at any given moment. Each field of view comprises 2 million triangles which are updated 100 times a second. The novel data formats give the ability to visualise as you fly, continuously streaming both geometry and photography to imperceptibly update the world around you, giving a landscape that rapidly morphs before your eyes. It is visually stunning and highly useable.”

BGS Geologists use GeoVisionary software to view geological, landscape and subsurface data Andrew Connell concluded: “We are also pleased to announce the migration of the GeoVisionary software to the Solaris 10 x64 Operating System (OS) using Sun Ultra 40 workstations. This OS and workstation combination are able to cope efficiently and effectively with the large scale data workloads and the scalable processing power we require.” Bill Hatton of BGS concurred: “Our future customers for this ground-breaking software will benefit from improved security, stability and performance, thereby enhancing their focus on the data.”

British Geological Survey Website:


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