Exploring Italian geological data in 3D

Chiara D'Ambrogi, Davide Scrocca, Marco Pantaloni, Viola Valeri, and Carlo Doglioni

In the last two decades, the progress in the geological and geophysical knowledge has been coupled by the increasing availability of digital multi-scale geological datasets, both regional and detailed. They represent a challenge to build reliable and consistent three-dimensional subsurface geological models, where data and knowledge are fully combined, addressing several of the existing limitations that are inherent in the traditional bi-dimensional methods of analysis and representation.

The Geological Survey of Italy, in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering and the Department of Earth Sciences of Sapienza University - Rome, promoted the development of a three-dimensional environment where several Italian subsurface geological datasets can be displayed, modeled and retrieved preserving both their dimensionality and their scale relationships.

This activity is at the frontier of geology, geophysics and computer science trying to define new approaches to build and update comprehensive 3D subsurface models. Primary geological observations are the source for detailed 3D reconstruction, whereas geophysical data and parameters could be used to model the main deep geologic features.

Three-dimensional modeling packages, including Moveā„¢ (MVE Ltd.), have been used to combine digitized data into a 3D representation of the deep Italian geologic features, including the base of Pliocene foredeep deposits, the Moho discontinuity, and the base of the lithosphere.

The result is the first 3D imagery of the crustal and subcrustal-scale structure, both surfaces and volumes, for the Italian region. This tool will enable the scientific community to analyse, integrate and compare the modeled surfaces, addressing future researches, and to share and popularize its knowledge.