V3Geo: A cloud-based repository for virtual 3D models in geoscience
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGeoscience Communication. 2022, 5 (1), 67-82. 10.5194/gc-5-67-2022
V3Geo is a cloud-based repository for publishing virtual 3D models in geoscience. The system allows storage, search and visualisation of mesh models typically acquired using techniques such as photogrammetry and laser scanning. The platform has been developed to handle models at the range of scales typically used by geoscientists from microscopic, hand samples and fossils through to outcrop sections or terrain covering metres to tens of kilometres. The cloud storage system serves the models to a purpose-built 3D web viewer. Models are tiled to ensure efficient streaming over the Internet. The web viewer allows 3D models to be interactively explored without the need for specialist software to be installed. A measurement tool enables users to gauge simple dimensions, such as widths, thicknesses, and fault throws. V3Geo allows very large models comprising multiple sections and is designed to include additional interpretation layers. The specific focus on geoscience data is supported by defined metadata and a classification schema. Public and private storage is available, and public models are assigned Creative Commons licenses to govern content usage. This paper presents V3Geo as a sustainable resource for the geoscience community, including the motivation and main characteristics and features. Example usage scenarios are highlighted: from undergraduate geology teaching, supporting virtual geoscience education and preparing virtual field trips based on V3Geo models. Finally, best practice guidelines for preparing 3D model contributions for publication on V3Geo are included as the Appendix.