Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM
OPEN-SOURCE VIRUTAL-REALITY BASED DATA VISUALIZATION TOOLS FOR RESEARCH AND TEACHING: 3D VISUALIZER, CRUSTA, AND LIDARVIEWER AT KECKCAVES
The W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES) at UC Davis is a collaborative team of computer and geoscientists developing interactive visualization methods to interpret and model arbitrarily large, 3D geologic datasets. Our collaboration has led to development of the open-source Vrui software platform, and three associated applications that enable interactive research and teaching of 3D geologic structure: 3D Visualizer for analysis of volume data, Crusta for remote surficial geologic mapping on a virtual-globe that renders arbitrarily large terrain data, and LidarViewer for analysis of lidar point clouds. All these software tools employ highly efficient data management, such as hierarchical data structures and view-dependent, multi-resolution, out-of-core rendering. This approach allows applications to load only those parts of a dataset that are within a user’s current view and then only render the visible parts of the data at a resolution supported by the hardware. As a result, the applications do not require a high end computer to visualize datasets in real time (50 frames/sec) that are many times larger than the computer’s main memory. More generally, our approach exploits the human capacity for visually identifying meaningful patterns embedded in noisy data by using immersive, interactive data visualization in real time. We have used these applications for diverse research projects including investigation of detailed 3D structure of microbialites (3D Visualizer), detailed characterization of the El Mayor-Cucapah rupture (LidarViewer), and mapping offset landforms along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault in Haiti (Crusta). These applications have also proven useful in the classroom at all levels of instruction. Simple, interactive 3D visualizations provide students an intuitive way to practice and improve spatial skills vital for success in Earth science coursework and academic or industry careers. In upper division courses, paired field and remote mapping exercises using both Crusta and LidarViewer have proven successful in fostering a broader understanding of how small field mapping areas (few square km) fit into larger structural systems (hundreds of square km).