The GSI3D software and methodology has emerged over the last 6 years as a result of BGS collaboration with INSIGHT GmbH. As a result BGS is now using GSI3D to produce detailed systematic 3D models that incorporate all the usable data for any given area. Such models are tied to the published BGS surface geological linework (DIGMAP) at either 1:10 000 or 1: 50 000 scale and have the advantage in the digital age of being dynamic - capable of instant revision as soon as new data become available.
GSI3D was built with geological surveyors, their working environment and culture in mind. It has resulted in an intuitive, user-friendly working package that has gained widespread acceptance throughout BGS.
The software is programmed in JAVA, is very light-weight and can be run on any standard operating system. Its file import and export formats are open and extensible, and the main model file is written in Extensible Markup Language (XML). The software is directly compatible with GIS systems and other 3D packages such as GOCAD.
GSI3D works with the principle components of any geological survey: a terrain model, mapped geological linework, borehole and section data as well as geophysical data. Together the display of these datasets enables the geologist to construct regularly spaced intersecting cross sections by correlating between boreholes and the outcrops-subcrops of units to produce a geological fence diagram of the area. Mathematical interpolation between the nodes along the sections and the limits of the units (outcrop plus subcrop) produces a solid model comprised of a series of stacked triangulated objects corresponding to each of the geological units present.
BGS is now embarking, though its' new National Geoscience Framework programme, on a campaign to systematically build 3D models. The products, known collectively as LithoFrame are described more fully on the BGS website.
The models have a wide range of applications; they are suitable for interrogation using GIS-based analytical tools to produce thematic and bespoke outputs. These geological models are generic rather than themed and so have a thousand and one potential uses and users. In addition to the GSI3D modelling package, a stand-alone viewer is also available for the visualisation and simple analysis of geological models constructed using GSI3D and other software packages. This Subsurface Viewer provides a decision support system for users to resolve their problems based on the best available 3D understanding of the geology, features include the ability to slice and dice the block model at will and generate synthetic boreholes, sections exploded views, and calculate volumes
The most important beneficiaries of this step change of delivery of geological information will be the general public and in particular geoscience students and teachers. We envisage 3D models wilkl become much more educationally informative than their forerunners...geological maps.