The people, science and technology behind discovery

Software Review

Carmela Burns

There’s more to explore – more data, more projects, more urgency – and never enough people or time in the day. The latest software developments are all about helping geoscientists recapture the time lost to finding, handling and working with data, so they can explore more efficiently, and with better results.

What are some of the latest software solutions? Globe data viewer applications are starting to prove out their value in exploration, by providing a way to search and view huge amounts of spatial, earth data. Finding data is one of the biggest time wasters for earth explorers, with estimates of 50 to 70 percent of geoscientists time being spent hunting down data for their projects. While not new to the industry, the latest generation of viewers, like Dapple are more useful and relevant to geoscientists because they simpler and more intuitive to how geoscientists work, and now provide easy and efficient access to WMS servers. This is important, as much of the useful image data that’s publicly available online from government surveys, and other data providers, resides in WMS servers. As these viewers start to become better integrated with geoscience and mapping applications, their contribution to improving workflows can be very powerful. Speeding up the process of finding and viewing data means geoscientists can spend more time on creating knowledge outcomes, like maps, reports and presentations.

Automated and production mapping tools are taking the guesswork, and unpredictability out of map creation. Making maps is another staple of exploration projects, and can be, surprisingly, time-consuming. Even with the myriad of tools available, generating a presentation-worthy map, or producing multiple maps, can still take a lot of fiddling around – especially if you’re not a software power user. Automated Map Sheets are one of the latest additions to Geosoft’s Oasis montaj mapping system and Target exploration geology software. The Map Sheets enable faster, easier generation of multiple map sheets. They can be easily applied to a single map template to multiple maps. With the new Map Snapshot function you can bookmark your map projects, return to areas of interest and preview new data, as new data arrives. Bookmarked areas of interest make it easy to go back and review potential targets. Once you take a Map Snapshot of the location, it’s embedded in your file, and can be easily shared with colleagues.

The newest innovations in 3D subsurface visualization are vastly improving our ability to view and see data in different perspectives, quickly and easily. With the wealth of rich, digital earth data now available, there’s less focus on data collection and more on making the best use of available data. The more you can see, the better your understanding; and working in three dimension is no longer considered exotic or sophisticated functionality for advanced software users only, it’s become an essential part of how we all need to work with our data. Geosoft’s recently added a number of new visualization tools to its 3D environment. The Geosoft Plot Isosurface tool is a simple-to-use tool that allows you to display isosurfaces from your 3D grids and, thereby, gain a better understanding of geological formations. The ability to do anisotropic 3D gridding of subsurface point data and models enhances visualization of targets in their 3D environment. You can grid in your preferred direction, or incorporate geological strike, dip, and plunge data, to better represent the data and preferentially enhance trends in a specified direction. When you present in 3D, the new 3D viewer spinning mode provides a more accurate, and visually impressive, interpretation of targets and other objects. This interactive ability improves the collaboration and understanding amongst groups of geoscientists of subsurface anomalies and drill holes and is used to enhance presentations to project managers and stakeholders. All of Geosoft’s 3D subsurface enhancements are available in Geosoft’s Oasis montaj and Target environment as well as in Target for ArcGIS and ESRI’s ArcGIS environment.

Making the best use of your geophysics data has also become easier with Geosoft’s newly enhanced MAGMAP extension software for geophysical filtering. A new Interactive Spectrum Filter provides instant visual grid updates, while applying MAGMAP filtering techniques. Users can now preview results prior to their application, for an entire grid, significantly reducing experimentation time.

For specialized geophysical applications, like UXO detection, Geosoft has created a more intuitive, streamlined workflow within its UX-Detect extension software for Oasis montaj. There are now fewer steps required to prepare, process and manage UXO targets, minimizing the possibility of error, and each step flows seamlessly. The UXO software has been reorganized to include three distinct menus: one for data preparation, another for parameter determination and processing and a third menu for target management.

Improved support for GIS, GOCAD and other geoscience applications is making a difference in how earth scientists access and share their data. Data compatibility and interoperability remains a big challenge earth scientists, and it can add a lot of complication, and aggravation, to the tasks of analyzing and sharing data visualizations. Progress in connectivity is being made by software developers, and Geosoft continues to lead in data format support. Surface files created in GOCAD can now be displayed and worked with within the Geosoft 3D subsurface environment. The SEG-Y Reader now included in Geosoft enables easy import and viewing of SEG-Y files. Seismic data SEG-Y files are converted to either a database, voxels or grids that can be integrated into your projects. Improvements have been made to both data handling within Target for ArcGIS, and the representation of ArcGIS maps within Geosoft’s Oasis montaj and Target environments, achieving a more seamless workflow between GIS and Geosoft’s robust earth data applications.