Tangible Exploration of Subsurface Data

Friday, 19 December 2014
Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Helena Mitasova and Jeffrey White, North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States
Since traditional subsurface visualizations using 2D maps, profiles or charts can be difficult to interpret and often do not convey information in an engaging form, scientists are interested in developing alternative visualization techniques which would help them communicate the subsurface volume data with students and general public. We would like to present new technique for interactive visualization of subsurface using Tangible geospatial modeling and visualization system (Tangeoms). It couples a physical, three-dimensional model with geospatial modeling and analysis through a cycle of scanning and projection. Previous applications of Tangeoms were exploring the impact of terrain modifications on surface-based geophysical processes, such as overland water flow, sediment transport, and also on viewsheds, cast shadows or solar energy potential. However, Tangeoms can serve as a tool for exploring subsurface as well. By creating a physical sand model of a study area, removing the sand from different parts of the model and projecting the computed cross-sections, we can look under the ground as if we were at an excavation site, and see the actual data represented as a 3D raster in that particular part of the model. Depending on data availability, we can also incorporate temporal dimension. Our method is an intuitive and natural way of exploring subsurface data and for users, it represents an alternative to more abstract 3D computer visualization tools, by offering direct, tangible interface.