GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 67-9
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


PITTS, Alan, Department of Earth Science, University of Camerino, Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 19f, Camerino, 62032, Italy, DUDEK, Marissa J., Geology Department, Northern Virginia Community College, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22652 and BENTLEY, Callan, Geology program, Northern Virginia Community College, Annadale, VA 22652,

Geology field studies are fundamental experiences in geoscience education, providing students the opportunity to see real world examples which reinforce concepts learned in the classroom. However, due to logistics, cost restraints and other factors, field experiences are typically limited to the geographic area surrounding the class. We present a collection of 3D virtual outcrop models from various locations including the US, Iceland, Ireland, and Italy and a simple methodology for creating 3D virtual outcrops using structure from motion photogrammetry. These interactive models can provide students a unique opportunity to remotely visit numerous instructive geologic sites. Virtual outcrops can be a valuable resource for classroom-based activities and combined into educationally-themed virtual field experiences to support various learning goals. Our virtual outcrops can be embedded in web pages or as objects in Google Earth. Users, including those without sight, may even download and render the models in solid form using a 3D printer. These activities offer many of the same educational benefits as traditional field experiences allowing student participants the ability to remotely visit instructive geologic sites from around the world.

The Mid-Atlantic Geo Image Collection (M.A.G.I.C.) has been working to create a massive digital repository of digital geologic material intended for outreach, education and research. Our expansive collection was founded on a suite of ~1400 GigaPan images, but now includes a diverse array of 3D models of outcrops and hand samples. These materials are free and available to everyone for educational or research purposes, including training pre-service teachers. 3D hand samples are created by taking a series of static photos from multiple angles of the sample, and stitched together using Agisoft PhotoScan software. After the model is created, it is then uploaded to the website From there, people can view, download, and embed the models into a website or print with a 3D printer – all for free.

Support for this project comes from the Google Earth for On-site and Distance Education project (GEODE, NSF DUE 1323419).