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Enabling virtual teaching with Unreal Engine 5 (3D/XR): The 30 Geotope³ virtual museum

Fieldwork and outcrops are an essential component of geoscience education, providing students with a hands-on learning experience that enhances their understanding of geological processes. This is reflected by the importance personal field experience has in the teaching of geology. While classic fieldwork remains the best way to grasp the extent and underlying processes of geological structures, 3D and VR teaching applications offer a unique opportunity to explore and visualize geological features that may be difficult to access or too large from a human’s perspective. However, state-of-the-art virtualising technology is sparsely used in geoscientific education. The commonly used toolkits to handle three-dimensional geological data are not able to process large amounts of polygons, as well as their accompanying texture-sets, derived from detailed photogrammetry datasets in real-time or VR. Here we present our current digitising workflow within the 30 Geotope³ project and how we visualise highly detailed, large- and small-scale outcrops with the use of Unreal Engine 5s Nanite and Virtual Texturing technologies. This virtual museum enables students to experience a variety of geological features in an immersive and interactive way, bridging the gap between theory and practice and enabling collaborative and remote learning. We understand the virtual museum as a starting point for interactive educational environments covering outcrops from all around the world, thus making geoscience more accessible and preserving outcrops for future research.


Pascal Michael Woiton1, Edouard Grigowski1
1University of Bonn, Germany
GeoBerlin 2023