We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Robert Holdsworth

Jones, R.R., McCaffrey, K.J.W., Clegg, P., Wilson, R.W., Holliman, N.S., Holdsworth, R.E., Imber, J. & Waggott, S. (2009). Integration of regional to outcrop digital data: 3D visualisation of multi-scale geological models. Computers & Geosciences 35(1): 4-18

Author(s) from Durham


Multi-scale geological models contain three-dimensional, spatially referenced data, typically spanning at least six orders of magnitude from outcrop to regional scale. A large number of different geological and geophysical data sources can be combined into a single model. Established 3D visualisation methods that are widely used in hydrocarbon exploration and production for sub-surface data have been adapted for onshore surface geology through a combination of methods for digital data acquisition, 3D visualisation, and geospatial analysis. The integration of georeferenced data across a wider than normal range in scale helps to address several of the existing limitations that are inherent in traditional methods of map production and publishing. The primary advantage of a multi-scale approach is that spatial precision and dimensionality (which are generally degraded when data are displayed in 2D at a single scale) can be preserved at all scales.

Real-time, immersive, interactive software, based on a “3D geospatial” graphical user interface (GUI), allows complex geological architectures to be depicted, and is more inherently intuitive than software based on a standard “desktop” GUI metaphor. The continuing convergence of different kinds of geo-modelling, GIS, and visualisation software, as well as industry acceptance of standardised middleware, has helped to make multi-scale geological models a practical reality. This is illustrated with two case studies from NE England and NW Scotland.