Virtual Field Trips

The virtual world of observations in Earth Sciences: From outcrops, fieldwork, field trips to VR analogue modelling

Friday, 21 August 2020, 9:30-17:30 h, Event Room 4.01

The access is granted to registered participants via the Virtual Conference Centre.

Due to your response and interest, we have now extended the conference program with a “pre-conference field trip day” – a very important topic for many universities at this moment with the Covid-19 pandemic causing major restrictions around group visits of outcrops around the world.

The Event will bring together a series of presentations on virtual geological fieldtrips from Europe, Arabia and the US and will allow you to see the different approaches and latest technology developments employed. You will also see the use cases applied to virtual field trips within universities but also learning departments of companies. In addition, we will present a new global initiative around setting up a global database for georeferenced 3D virtual outcrops.


09:30–10:20 hA virtual field tour of the Jurassic Coast, NE Englandby David Hodgetts, VRGeoscience Limited, United KingdomThe geological exposures of the Jurassic Coast of North East England cover a variety of depositional systems, from both continental and marine settings, and provide an excellent opportunity for field training. In this virtual field tour, we will visit several localities along the Yorkshire coast.Starting at Staithes we will look at the Middle Liassic Cleveland Ironstone Formation before proceeding south to Whitby for the alluvial sandstone of the Saltwick Formation. The exposures at Whitby comprise multi-storey sand bodies of fine- to medium-grained sandstone deposited in the hanging-wall of the Whitby fault and shows many different geological features at a variety of scales.After journeying south, travelling up stratigraphy and past the fractured mudstones of Saltwick Nab, we will arrive at the exposures of Long Nab, and the Long Nab Member of the Scalby Formation. Here we will see an exhumed meander plane, usually only visible at low tide, showing both planform and vertical sections.We will round off the excursion by travelling further south to Flamborough Head to look at the Late Cretaceous Chalks, with extensive faulting and fracturing, marl layers, stylolites and fault breccia.The data for this virtual fieldtrip is assembled from a variety of sources including photogrammetric models collected both by Drone/UAV and by handheld camera, and lidar derived digital elevation data.The field trip itself will be run using Virtual Reality Geological Studio (VRGS) from VRGeoscience Limited.10:20–11:10 hVirtual field trip to Late Jurassic Carbonates of Central Saudi Arabiaby Pankaj Khanna, Ahmad Ihsan Ramdani, Gaurav Siddharth Gairola & Volker Vahrenkamp; KAUST, Saudi ArabiaLate Jurassic carbonates of Saudi Arabia contain some of the the world’s most prolific oil-producing strata in super giant reservoirs. Small scale stratigraphic architecture and associated property and flow heterogeneities are poorly resolved in the inter-well scale of hundreds of meters because such heterogeneities are subseismic and beyond penetration of borehole logs. This blindspot leads to oversimplified reservoir models and simulations. However, analogous strata is spectacularly exposed in the outcrops along the Tuwaiq Mountain Escarpment, central Saudi Arabia.This virtual field trip focuses on the Late Jurassic Hanifa Formation outcrops at Wadi Birk, central Saudi Arabia with an objective to highlight and display interwell scale heterogeneities associated with depositional architecture.The drone-survey involved two-stages: (1) a complete (4x4 km2) nadir-view survey with a fixed-wings-drone (Wingtra), (2) high-resolution survey of cliff’s along mesas (>20 km) with DJI-M600 (hexacopter), where the drones were equipped with a Sony-RX1R-ii-42 MP camera. The imagery and Ground Control Points (laid before survey and accurately measured) were used to develop georeferenced high-resolution (cm-scale) 3D digital outcrop model (DOM) with Pix4D. The DOM is interpreted with VRGS to capture the formation architecture and dimensionality. The DOM is supplemented with geological (measured section, thin sections), petrophysical (spectral gamma ray), and geophysical (ground-penetrating-radar and shallow-seismic) datasets. The observations and results will be used as input into high-resolution static reservoir models to address the gap of our understanding in inter-well scale heterogeneities of similar subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs.11:10–12:00 hShallow marine and coastal plain deposits of the Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah – a Virtual Fieldtripby John Anthony Howell (1), Simon Buckley (2), Magda Chmielewska (1); 1: University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom; 2: Norce Research, Bergen, NorwayThe Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah is comprised of over 150 km of near continuous cliffs which contain a 500+ meter succession of Late Cretaceous shallow marine and coal-bearing coastal plain deposits. These unique outcrops record 3.5 million years of clastic-wedge progradation, from an uplifting mountain chain in the west into an epiric seaway to the east. These outcrops have been used extensively for research and teaching over the last 50 years. They have served as analogues to reservoir sections in the North Sea, Niger Delta, Gulf of Mexico, Brunei and other similar systems around the world. They have been used to further our understanding of sedimentology and, they were one of the early testing grounds for the concepts of high resolution sequence stratigraphy.This multiscale virtual fieldtrip will look at keys aspects of the Book Cliffs from the basin to the pore scale. At the largest scale a 120 km cross section has been used to generate synthetic seismic lines to highlight the geometry and architecture of parasequence scale clinoforms. We will study shoreface parasequences and a series of intervals commonly interpreted as estuarine valley fills, overlying sequence boundaries. The section is long enough to be able to trace specific surfaces from the coastal plain, through the shoreface and into the offshore.At the intermediate scale, a series of vertical outcrops have been used as the basis for field-scale reservoirs models that highlight the stratigraphic features that impact flow. A series behind outcrops cores and well logs are tied back to outcrops to illustrate the sampling and interpretation issues associated with well data. At the finest scale, 3D models have been built of SEM stubs to illustrate the microscopic, pore scale heterogeneities.The presentation will be run live in Lime. A purpose-built virtual outcrop/virtual fieldtrip software developed at NORCE in Bergen. The presentation will show case the fantastic geology of the Book Cliffs and the potential of the virtual fieldtrip approach. We will illustrate the pros and cons of virtual fieldtrips and highlight their contribution to understanding reservoir analogues.13:00–13:50 hVirtual fieldwork in the Sorbas basin, Betic Cordillera, SE Spainby Liviu Matenco, Meije Sibbel, Hans de Bresser; University of Utrecht, The NetherlandsAs part of the Earth Sciences curriculum at Utrecht university, first year master degree students get the option to join a Field Research Instruction Geology course in SE Spain. This course focusses on the internal zone of the Betic Cordillera, which is characterized by a spatial alternation of metamorphic ranges and fault-bounded intramontane basins, strongly affected by normal faulting. Every year, several student teams carry out a project in one of the intramontane basins, the Sorbas basin. The broad aim of these projects is to analyze the kinematic and depositional evolution of this basin.This year, the Covid-19 crisis forced us to transform this fieldwork into a virtual field project. For that, we provided the students with a dataset composed of kinematic measurements, sedimentological columns, numerous measurements of bedding and sediment transport directions, and a detailed imagery of outcrops composed of long panoramic photos, few other photos, Street View images available in Google Earth, and high-resolution 3D drone imagery.Students study all the available data and based on that build their own map, make composite drawings, and present an interpretation of the kinematic and depositional evolution. In total they can spend about 100-150 hours on this project, in a team of two.In this conference contribution we’ll show the data set, guide you along critical exposures including ones with 3D imagery, and inform you about our experience with this MSc degree virtual fieldwork.13:50–14:40 hVirtual field trip to seismic scale outcrops of the Triassic, Edgeøya, Svalbardby Simon John Buckley (1), Kari Ringdal (1), Isabelle Lecomte (2), Ingrid M. Anell (3) & Alvar Braathen (3); 1: NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Norway;2: Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Norway; 3: Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, NorwayLarge-scale cliff sections on Edgeøya in the remote eastern part of the Svalbard Archipelago (Spitsbergen) comprise mostly Triassic sedimentary successions. These outcrops expose formations found on the offshore Barents Shelf, and contribute to studies of subsurface geology and geophysics, allowing the scale gap between detailed well and seismic data to be filled. One locality is Kvalpynten, where seismic-scale features such as growth faults, paralic deposits and low-angle clinoforms are observed, providing the opportunity to compare offshore seismic data with the outcrop using seismic modelling. Synthetic seismic modelling is used to aid seismic interpretation by quantitatively and qualitatively assessing resolution, scale and level of detail of modelled onshore structures. Virtual outcrop models allow the accurate and high-resolution capture of large and inaccessible outcrop sections, at scales comparable with seismic vertical resolution. This gives new possibilities for generating georeferenced input to seismic modelling, which allows generation of highly visual end products for educational purposes. Here, we present a virtual field trip to the Triassic outcrops around Kvalpynten. The dataset is based on virtual outcrop models acquired using boat-based photogrammetry, covering around 25 km of continuous cliff sections. The 3D outcrop model is combined with geological interpretations, logs, field photos and information panels, and regional elevation data to set the context of the trip. In addition, synthetic seismic models are modelled from the virtual outcrops to highlight the scale of the exposures compared to offshore seismic data.15:00–15:50 hVirtual geology from the lab to the fieldby Meije Sibbel, Ernst Willingshofer, Martyn Drury, Richard Wessels & Oliver Plümper; Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, The NetherlandsIn this virtual fieldtrip we will review and discuss three case studies carried out at Utrecht University utilizing virtual reality (VR) and virtual field observations (VFO) across a range of scales for the study of geologic features such as fold and fault or shear zone structures. At the laboratory scale, state-of the art Virtual Reality (VR) provides an unprecedented level of detail for the observation of the surface expression of tectonic deformation in analogue models and provides opportunities for bringing the laboratory into real world virtual environments. An outcrop-scale case-study of the sheared Rosas granodiorite in the eastern Pyrenees will be presented to demonstrate how 2D & 3D drone mapping can aid geologists in understanding relations between intermediate scale structures not directly recognizable in the field. Moreover, it will be briefly discussed how 3D drone maps can be used to extract high quality quantitative field measurements. Lastly, an educational virtual field-trip case study will be presented from the ‘Cap de Creus’ area (Pyrenees), which serves as a data science project within the Dutch component of the European Plate Observing system (EPOS-NL) project, to emphasize how a virtual environment can be used to study complex deformation structures that resulted from multiple deformation events.15:50–16:15 hVirtual Fieldtrips in Learning & Development: Geology 4 Non-Geologists – North Sea petroleum systems and reservoir geology, Dorset coast, UKby Jürgen Grötsch (1), Young KonYong (2) & Maren Kleemeyer (2); 1: Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2: Shell Global Solutions B.V., The NetherlandsTraining courses in industry are being moved from face-to-face events to virtual equivalents for cost reasons but also for convenience, ie availability of online training where and when needed. This effort also comprises geological fieldtrips which in addition pose significant safety risks. On the other hand, acquiring 3D panoramic images, as well as drone footage in geological outcrops is nowadays inexpensive and easy to process due to hard- and software developments during the last decade.This has triggered the development of virtual fieldtrips for various purposes, mainly training and development, project support via outcrop analogues often difficult to access and knowledge management. Virtual outcrop stops have been created, in which the learner can interactively interrogate the geology and conduct exercises, like what would traditionally be done at the outcrop stop during a field visit. The digital data from the outcrop locations can be combined into virtual geological fieldtrips. The Dorset coastline in the UK was selected for the first virtual fieldtrip in Shell L&D as it covers outcrops which are relevant to the hydrocarbon discoveries made in the area, like the Wytch Farm and Kimmeridge oil fields. In addition, they can also be used to explain the North Sea Petroleum systems. This is supported by available outcrops presenting source rocks, reservoirs, seals and also structures trapping hydrocarbons. The examples presented are part of a basic training set which is delivered for non-geologists (e.g. reservoir engineers, petrophysicists, etc.) which is supported by a set of so-called learning nuggets, ie short training videos to complement the experience and understanding.In the meantime, this Dorset training set has been donated to the EAGE for further use in their training programs on offer. The example clearly demonstrates the diversity of use cases for virtual field stops and the need for a global database of such outcrops documenting various depositional environments and structural regimes with their respective reservoir architectures.16:15–16:40 hVirtual Fieldtrips in Shell Learning & Development:, Carbonates in Omanby Mia Steenwinkel (1) & Young Kon Yong (2); 1: Rock-It Geological Consultancy & Training, Belgium; 2: Shell, The NetherlandsTraining courses in the industry are changing from face-to-face events to virtual equivalents. Although real-life field experience is missing in virtual trips, the main benefit is the availability of online training where and when needed, without travel and logistics costs.Acquiring 3D panoramic images for this purpose, as well as drone footage in geological outcrops, has nowadays become more and more accessible and easy to process, due to fast developments in hard- and software during the last decade. This has triggered the creation of virtual fieldtrips, mainly for training and development, but also for knowledge management and project support via difficult to access outcrop analogues.Virtual outcrop stops have been created, in which the learner can interactively gain knowledge about the geology and conduct exercises, almost like what would traditionally be done at the outcrop stops during a field visit.Carbonates in Oman were selected for the second virtual fieldtrip in Shell L&D, as they provide essential learning points for understanding carbonate reservoirs, applicable to many of the oil fields in Oman and the Middle East. The short videos presented here are part of a basic training set for geoscientists who follow the Shell Geosciences Training Programme, which is supported by a set of “learning nuggets” to complement the experience and understanding.16:40–17:30 hDigital fieldtrip into the Vulkaneifel Unesco Global Geopark (Germany)by Sabine Kummer (1), Andreas Schüller (3) & Gösta Hoffmann (1,2); 1: Bonn University, Germany; 2: RWTH Aachen University, Germany; 3: Natur und Geopark Vulkaneifel, GermanyThis virtual fieldtrip will lead the participants into the geopark „Vulkaneifel“. The aim of the fieldtrip is a) to introduce the geopark; b) to highlight the abilities of the smartphone app OutcropWizard and c) to show the most spectacular landforms and outcrops within the geopark.The UNESCO global geopark „Vulkaneifel“ is located in western Germany. The Eifel mountains situated to the west of the Rhine and are part of the Rhenohercynian Zone. Hence the basement rocks are Devonian sediments. These rocks are exposed in several well-known outcrops across the region. However, the landforms where the name of the geopark is derived from are volcanic in origin. This volcanism is the result of two volcanic phases. Volcanic activity started around 45 million years ago and lasted for ca 10 million years. the second phase is Quaternary and the last eruption is only ca 10,000 years ago. CO2-degassing vents indicate ongoing subsurface magmatic activity. The Eifel has more than 350 volcanic eruption centres. World-famous are the maar-craters, whose international type locality is the Eifel. These spectacular landforms are in most cases water-filled lakes nowadays. These are locally referred to as the “eyes of the Eifel”.

please click to learn more

Legal Notice & GDPR