2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


FRY, Matthew C. and SPRINGER, Abraham E., Department of Geology, Northern Arizona Univ, Box 4099, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, mcf33@dana.ucc.nau.edu

Interactive three-dimensional (3-D) geologic visualization techniques (the GeoWall) have been developed to help water-resource scientists and managers understand the connections between the complex geology of Arizona and its springs and streams. Interactive visualizations allow views of an aquifer system not possible with any other methods, especially flat, two-dimensional (2-D) maps and projections. The GeoWall is a 3-D digital projection system that allows people to view and manipulate complex data in three dimensions. A good understanding of spatial relationships is a fundamental requirement to understanding the sources of water for springs. Traditional research and presentation products have relied on 2-D representations of the hydrogeology through maps and profiles that are occasionally augmented by physical models. Although most Earth Scientists have been trained to understand the 3-D structure from such representations, this mental leap requires spatial thinking skills that are difficult to learn and make it difficult to explain complex hydrogeologic systems to water managers and the general public. 3-D hydrogeologic visualizations of the Kaibab Plateau (North Rim of Grand Canyon) and the Coconino Plateau (South Rim of the Grand Canyon) have been created with ArcGIS. The Coconino Plateau 3-D visualization includes not only the digital hydrogeologic framework model, but also spring capture zones and hydraulic heads from a numerical groundwater flow model. A model of the Upper Verde Headwaters area has been created, using a 3-D geographic information system (GIS) package, EarthVision. The benefits of using a 3-D geologic GIS package, such as EarthVision, include the ability to model cross-cutting features such as paleochannels and igneous intrusions. Because the headwaters are dominated by complicated geological terrain, conventional 2-D methods have been insufficient to describe the source areas of the aquifers whose springs supply perennial flow to the Upper Verde River. The 3-D EarthVision model helps a general audience visualize the source areas of these aquifers.