The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is a multidisciplinary agency that provides assessments of natural resources (geological, hydrological, biological), the disturbances that affect those resources, and the disturbances that affect the built environment, natural landscapes, and human society. Until now, USGS map products have been generated and distributed primarily as 2-D maps, occasionally providing cross sections or overlays, but rarely allowing the ability to characterize and understand 3-D systems, how they change over time (4-D), and how they interact. And yet, technological advances in monitoring natural resources and the environment, the ever-increasing diversity of information needed for holistic assessments, and the intrinsic 3-D/4-D nature of the information obtained increases our need to generate, verify, analyze, interpret, confirm, store, and distribute its scientific information and products using 3-D/4-D visualization, analysis, modeling tools, and information frameworks. Today, USGS scientists use 3-D/4-D tools to (1) visualize and interpret geological information, (2) verify the data, and (3) verify their interpretations and models. 3-D/4-D visualization can be a powerful quality control tool in the analysis of large, multidimensional data sets. USGS scientists use 3-D/4-D technology for 3-D surface (i.e., 2.5-D) visualization as well as for 3-D volumetric analyses. Examples of geological mapping in 3-D include characterization of the subsurface for resource assessments, such as aquifer characterization in the central United States, and for input into process models, such as seismic hazards in the western United States.
Additional Publication Details
U.S. Geological Survey: A synopsis of Three-dimensional Modeling