GeoVisionary Brings Irish Environmental and Geological Data Together

VIRTALIS’ GeoVisionary software is being used by the Tellus Project - an airborne geophysical survey and ground-based soil survey currently in operation in the Irish North Midlands.

“Essentially, GeoVisionary brings geology and GIS together in a 3D environment”, Shane Carey, GIS and Data Manager for the Tellus Project, Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), explained.

Two survey aircraft are flying up and down the survey area taking measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, Gamma-Ray spectrometry and electrical conductivity.Surveying in Northern and the Border counties of Ireland is complete and it envisaged that eventually the whole of Ireland will be comprehensively surveyed in this manner; possibly the first country in the world to be the subject of such in-depth analysis.  Two survey aircraft are flying up and down the survey area taking measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, Gamma-Ray spectrometry and electrical conductivity.

These measurements trace natural magnetism, radioactivity and conductivity properties of the rocks, soils and waters underground. These traces are so minute that the aircraft needs to fly as close to the ground as permitted (approximately 90m over the countryside, 240m over towns) in order to measure them and make detailed maps. A total of 32,000 km of data will have been collected between September 2014 and spring 2015.

Simultaneously, the survey team is visiting approximately 2,500 locations across the North Midlands collecting samples to develop maps revealing the abundance of chemical elements that are present in the soil, plus stream sediment and sediment water.

“Tellus is generating a truly vast amount of data and GeoVisionary’s ability to handle large data sets makes it ideal for viewing the data in three dimensional space”, said Carey. “The information we are gathering will help geologists, farmers and agri-advisors, planners, public bodies and local authorities, and private companies, to assist in making more informed decisions about natural resources and environmental practices.  For example, knowledge of the levels of trace minerals in the soil will help farmers understand their soil’s fertility more fully and adjust their fertiliser regimes accordingly.”

The survey team is visiting approximately 2,500 locations across the North Midlands collecting samples to develop maps revealing the abundance of chemical elements that are present in the soil, plus stream sediment and sediment water.GeoVisionary was developed by Virtalis in collaboration with the British Geological Survey as specialist software for high-resolution 3D visualisation and interpretation of geoscience data.  The initial design goal was to ensure that geoscientific data sets for large regions, national to sub-continental, could be loaded simultaneously and at full resolution, while allowing real-time interaction with the data.  One of the major advantages GeoVisionary offers over other visualisation software (3 & 4D GIS) is its ability to integrate very large volumes of data from multiple sources, allowing a greater understanding of diverse geoscientific datasets.

Carey continued: “All the Tellus datasets (Geochemistry and Geophysical) supplement each other, helping us to draw up a complete picture.  Thanks to GeoVisionary, we can view these datasets in a 3D environment and try make connections between the data we have collected and existing geological and topographical maps.  GeoVisionary is unique in that it can easily handle large national datasets in a 3D environment and helps us make sense of the layers above and below the surface.  Supplementary information from borehole data can also be brought into Geovisionary to further increase our understanding, which makes it quite unique.”

In addition to analysis and interpretation, the Tellus team uses GeoVisionary to create videos, presentations and fly throughs for use as an outreach tool.  It is also used to plan fieldwork and to validate what is observed in the field, perhaps by deploying tools within GeoVisionary, such as exaggerating the terrain, or altering the angle of sunlight on a geological feature.

Carey added: “We can link GeoVisionary with more advanced GIS applications such as ArcGIS, to carry out more comprehensive data analysis.  GeoVisionary even allows the GSI to study the offshore seabed surface of Ireland as part of the Infomar mapping programme.  The fact that offshore terrain can also be viewed in 3D, increases our ability to understand Ireland’s make-up and also helps us communicate that knowledge.”

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