3D geological modelling

3D modelling is performed at the Geological Survey of Austria since 2009 in order to describe geological structures in 3D space and to convey subsurface information to geo-scientists and the public. 3D geological models represent an expansion of classical 2D geological maps into depth and describe the subsurface. In addition, 3D models provide the basis for the modelling of processes such as groundwater flow or temperature distribution.

Source data for 3D geological modelling include geological maps, cross-sections, structural maps, borehole logs as well as data from geophysical surveys (seismics, well logging, geo-electrics etc.). Using 3D modelling tools, the various source data are integrated, harmonized, checked for consistency and finally combined to calculate geological horizons (tops and bottoms of layers), faults and volumes.

A 3D geological model represents a geologist’s interpretation of subsurface data. It can be updated using newly available data. At the same time, virtual borehole logs or cross-sections can be constructed to gain information on the subsurface according to the model.

New technologies such as 3D printing, laser engraving of glass blocks or internet-based 3D viewers offer the possibility to experience 3D models interactively.

The subsurface is used by mankind in various ways (production of oil & gas, use of geothermal heat, groundwater supply, mineral resource extraction, CO2-storage, waste disposal). The future will see an increase in usage and possibly conflicting demands. In this context, 3D models can offer help for planning and decision making.


3D geological modelling at the Geological Survey of Austria is performed using the SKUA-GOCAD™ software suite: » https://www.pdgm.com/products/skua-gocad/#