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iVR for the Geosciences

Fieldwork is a core activity in the geosciences. Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), allow for embodied experiences while not physically present at a field site or create experiences not possible in physical reality. Immersive VR (short: iVR) refers to systems using head-mounted displays to deliver 360-degree experiences. It can deliver remote and large-scale geological entities to the laboratory, allowing geoscientists to apply real-world skills and methods to explore and interact with 3D geological models. We describe a project in which we developed an iVR workbench and experience for Iceland’s Thrihnukar volcano combining satellite imagery with terrain elevation data to create a basic reconstruction of the real world, using terrain elevation terrestrial LiDAR data to provide a point cloud model of the entire magmatic-volcanic system and intensity values for the identification of rock types, and Structure from Motion (SfM) mapping to construct a photorealistic point cloud of the volcano. To reproduce fieldwork activities, this project digs deeply into the scientific workflow of geosciences research, evaluates the priorities of the major phases of geosciences fieldwork, and develops a prototype immersive workbench for direct manipulation, information retrieval, geometric measurement, and the integration of multimedia resources. This workbench offers analytic functions currently not available in the field and is expected to help making fieldwork experiences accessible, shareable, and available any time. Future developments will also allow for collaborating remotely as well as designing repositories for comparative studies.


Jiayan Zhao
Jiayan Zhao - at or 814-321-6982

18 year(s) or older
This study is also accepting healthy volunteers
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Inclusion Criteria:
Graduate Students
Major in disciplines related to Earth Sciences (e.g., Geosciences, Geography, and Environmental Science)

Exclusion Criteria:
Younger than 18 years old
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State College, PA ,