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Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM


BURNHAM, Brian, Geosciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 2601 N Floyd Rd, Richardson, TX 75083, KHARWAT, Ranyah, Geosciences and Arts and Technology, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, MILLS, Graham, Department of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75080-3021 and AIKEN, Carlos L.V., Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75080,

The Cybermapping Lab at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) is actively researching methods to create an interface that would allow students to visit an outcrop virtually. This type of interaction in a classroom setting gives them an opportunity to witness the geologic processes first-hand. Currently, there are various techniques used to create 3-Dimensional virtual environments which are used in several different mediums, such as video games, and CGI in movies and television. These methods range from aesthetic approaches for multi-media outlets, to geo-spatial procedures for scientific research and education. UTD is developing such a method to create these types of environments through the use of commercial and proprietary software packages, in coordination with ground-based LiDAR and RTK-GPS systems. The techniques developed are used to digitally capture and geo-reference a geologic outcrop, while the software packages are used to post-process the data to create photo-realistic textures that are draped over a static mesh. Once these geologic models are created, they are saved as .OBJ geometry files that can be imported into a number of 3D modeling programs. The graduate and undergraduate students involved with this procedure are now closely associated with the Arts and Technology (ATEC) department at UTD, which specializes in 3D animation and game design. This gives students access to a network of professional software packages that allows them to process and create virtual environments around the geologic models. With access to the resources available in the ATEC department, the students are able to further expand the geologic models into various simulated environments. Many of the ouctrop locations that are captured and processed are of importance to undergraduate classes in sedimentology and introductory field geology courses. An example would be demonstrating a model of a fluvial depositional system to the students in a course before visiting the location. This would aid in the understanding of the type of environment needed to create such an outcrop. These types of environments bridge a conceptual gap between static notional models, and an immersive photo-realistic environment.
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