3D Visualization of the Tahoe Basin

The 3D Visualization team is using a suite of applications developed by the KeckCAVES group (UCDavis) to create 3D visualizations.  These visualizations can be projected in an immersive 3D visualization environment, such as a CAVE, in an non-immersive 3D environment, such as a 3D TV, or in 2D on a desktop computer.

Here are a few examples of how we are using KeckCAVES applications to create visualizations to teach science center visitors about freshwater ecosystems.

Exploring the Tahoe Basin with a Virtual Globe Application

Crusta is a visualization application that combines elevation models and imagery on a virtual globe.  Imagery, including air photos, land cover, and geologic maps, and satellite imagery, can be draped over 3D topography.  The 3D globe allows users to take virtual field trips to inaccessible field sites, and geologists can virtually map and measure geologic features.

In this fly through using Crusta you can see how variable resolution imagery is displayed, with low-resolution imagery covering the entire globe, and high-resolution imagery as we zoom in on the Tahoe Basin.  The imagery is turned off and back on to show how just the bare surface can be displayed, which allows highlighting landform features.

Watch Peter Gold explore the Lake Tahoe region in the UCDavis KeckCAVES using Crusta.

Tour of the Tahoe Basin using LidarViewer

This video uses LidarViewer to fly over the Tahoe basin.  LidarViewer is an application for visualizing and measuring 3D point data, such as that collected by terrestrial or airborne LiDAR surveys.  LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging.  A laser is projected onto the land surface from an airplane or tripod.  As the laser reflects back, each position where the laser hit the surface is recorded as a point.  This results in a reconstruction of landscape features at Earth’s surface, including mountains, rivers, trees and faults.

In LidarViewer, the data can be displayed as a point cloud, where you can see individual points when zoomed in on the landscape. Or, we can apply a dynamic hillshading effect where a smooth surface is created based on the position of the points.  An artificial light source highlights some features and causes others to be shadowed.

For more information about KeckCAVES 3D Visualization applications please visit www.keckcaves.org.  All applications are freely available for download and run on linux/unix based systems including Mac OSX.

Leave a Reply