GSI3D (Geological Surveying and Investigation in 3 dimensions) is a methodolgy and associated software tool for 3D geologic modelling developed by Hans-Georg Sobisch over the last 16 years initially in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Lower Saxony (Germany). The software is written in Java and data is stored in extensible mark-up language XML. For the past 6 years the British Geological Survey has been acting as a test bed for the accelerated development of the system. Since its roll-out throughout the Survey GSI3D has started to revolutionise the working practices, data standards and products of a geological survey as a whole. The BGS is currently undertaking a 3 year research and development project to further extend the GSI3D methodology to deal with faulted bedrock terrain.

A brief outline of the methodology

GSI3D utilizes a digital elevation model, surface geological linework and downhole borehole data to enable the geologist to construct cross sections by correlating boreholes and the outcrops to produce a geological fence diagram. Mathematical interpolation between the nodes along the drawn sections and the limits of the units produces a solid model comprising a stack of triangulated objects each corresponding to one of the geological units present. Scientsts draw their sections based on facts such as borehole logs correlated by intuition - the shape 'looks right' to a geologist. This 'looks right' element pulls on the geologists' wealth of understanding of earth processes, examination of exposures and theoretical knowledge gathered over a career in geology. GSI3D enables the efficient capture of tacit and implicit knowledge which was until now trapped in geologist's heads.

Application of Models

The biggest single user of geological models at present is the Environment Agency of England and Wales. The models are used in groundwater resource management and aquifer vulnerability assessments. The BGS is responding to the increasing need of reliable groundwater models by creating direct links between GSI3D and the groundwater modelling software ZOOMQ3D.


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* Mathers, S.J. (editor). 2008. Extended Abstracts of the 2nd International GSI3D Conference, 2-3 September 2008.British Geological Survey Open File Report (OR/08/054), 30pp.

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* Wycisk, P., Gossel, W., Schlesier, D. & Neumann, C. 2007. Integrated 3D modelling of subsurface geology and hydrogeology for urban groundwater management. International Symposium on New Directions in Urban Water Management.

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* Smith, B., Campbell, S., Fordyce, F., Kessler, H., Price, S., Entwisle, D. & K. Royse. 2007. Understanding heterogeneity and structure in urban environments: a tool for the assessment of risk and interpretation of geochemical data. British Geological Survey [Poster]

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* Merritt, J., Entwisle, D. & A. Monaghan. 2006. Integrated geoscience data, maps and 3D models for the City of Glasgow, UK. IAEG 2006 Conference Paper No. 394.

* Royse, K., Entwisle, D., Price, S., Terrington, R. & J. Venus. 2006. Gateway to Olympic success. Geoscientist, 16 (5). 4-10.

* Bridge, D.M., Seymour, K., Kessler, H., Shepley, M., Price, S. J., Lelliott, M., Banks, V.J. & G. Wildman. 2006. 3-D geoscience models and their application to hydrogeological domains mapping. In: The pursuit of science : building on a foundation of discovery, Philadelphia, USA, 22-25 Oct 2006.

* Neber, A., Aubel, J., Classon, F., Hoefer, S., Kunz, A. & Sobisch H.-G. 2006. From the Devonian to the present: Landscape and technogenic relief evolution in an urban environment. IAEG 2006 Conference Paper No. 517.

* Perk, M. 2006. Feld-Kalibrierung geophysikalischer Daten auf kontaminierten Flächen mit Hilfe des GIS-gestützten Visualisierungswerkzeugs GSI3D. Dissertation ->

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* Classon, F., Brunotte, E., Sobisch, H.-G. & Neber, A. 2005. Zur dreidimensionalen Modellierung von anthropogenen Ablagerungen in urbanen Räumen am Beispiel des rechtsrheinischen Köln. Geotechnik 2005/2, 93-100.

* Culshaw, M.G. 2005. From concept towards reality: developing the attributed 3D geological model of the shallow subsurface. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 38, 231-284.

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* Kessler, H. & Mathers, S.J. 2004. Maps to Models. Geoscientist, 14/10, pp. 4-6.

* Kessler, H., Mathers, S.J & H.-G. Sobisch. 2004. GSI3D - The software and methodology to build near-surface 3-D geological models. British Geological Survey (IR/04/029), 96pp.

* Hough, E., Kessler, H., Lelliott, M., Price, S., Reeves, H. & D. Bridge. 2003. Look before you leap. In: Moore, H. M., Fox, H. R. & S. Elliott (editors). Land reclamation: Extending the boundaries. pp. 369-375.

* Bridge, D., Hough, E., Kessler, H., Price, S. & Reeves, H. 2003. Urban Geology: Integrating Surface and Sub-Surface Geoscientific Information for Development Needs. In: NATO Science Series IV: Earth and Environmental Sciences. Stanisław R. Ostaficzuk: The Current Role of Geological Mapping in Geosciences. Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Innovative Applications of GIS in Geological Cartography Kazimierz Dolny, Poland 24–26 November 2003.,

* Ellison, R.A., McMillan, A.A., Lott, G.K., Kessler, H. & R.S. Lawley. 2002. Ground characterisation of the urban environment: a guide to best practice. Urban Geoscience and Geological Hazards Programme. Keyworth, British Geological Survey Research Report (RR/02/2005), 37pp.

* Sobisch, H.-G. 2000. Ein digitales raeumliches Modell des Quartaers der GK25 Blatt 3508 Nordhorn auf der Basis vernetzter Profilschnitte. Shaker Verlag, Aachen.

* Hinze, C., Sobisch, H.-G. & Voss, H-H. 1999. Spatial modelling in Geology and its practical Use. Mathematische Geologie, 4, pp. 51-60.

External links

* [ GSI3D in the British Geological Survey]
* [ 2nd International GSI3D conference]
* [ A GSI3D model built of the City of Halle, Germany]
* [ 3D geological model featured on the BBC]

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