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Applications of virtual reality to Geoscience

Field trips are essential for geologists and engineers to develop interpretation skills and to get a sense of scale. Unfortunately, attendance to field trips has become less frequent due to cost, with only a handful of team members attending a field trip once or twice a year. Sometimes access to key outcrop analogues can be difficult or too hazardous. COVID-19 has made attendance to field trips even more challenging. An alternative solution is the interpretation of outcrop models derived from drone data, visualised on a laptop or desktop. In this case, the user field of view is determined by the size of the screen. In contrast, in virtual reality the user is placed in the digital world where the user is surrounded by data in the 3D space. This immersive experience increases cognition, speed of analysis and retention. In this talk, we will demonstrate the application of immersive learning to Geological Field trips in Virtual Reality, with examples from different depositional settings. One of the key advantages of adopting Virtual Reality to support learning is that entire teams can have access to areas that would normally be too hazardous or too expensive to reach. Virtual reality also makes geological field trips more inclusive, giving the opportunity for people with disabilities to attend more field trips. Virtual reality also improves knowledge capture, by creating the option of field trip repeatability. This technology has a wide range of applications in subsurface learning, reservoir characterisation, environmental assessments, infrastructure planning, etc. We developed 3DGaia, a virtual reality platform for immersive learning and remote collaboration in Geoscience. Users have the ability to ‘fly’ over outcrops or ‘walk’ along these at real scale. 3D Gaia integrates data from basin scale to pore scale. 3DGaia enables teams to connect to the same immersive virtual field trip, helping to connect expertise across the Globe.


Claudia Ruiz-Graham
Imaged Reality
GeoUtrecht 2020