New EDGE for Australian exploration

26 November 2003

Australia's exploration industry could benefit with the opening today of a new three-dimensional visualisation theatre, known as the EDGE, by Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources.

"The EDGE will enable scientists from Geoscience Australia to explore the land in 3D, providing a competitive edge in attracting international investment in exploration," Mr Macfarlane said.

"In the past, we typically used maps to interpret geological data collected from around Australia. With the Enhanced Discovery of Geosciences 3D Theatre, the EDGE, we can now look at the Earth as it really exists, in three dimensions, so that we can better understand it," Minister Macfarlane added.

Geoscience Australia is the first government geoscience organisation to use this technology. At $35 000, the new facility was built using in-house expertise at a fraction of the cost of similar systems used by exploration companies.

"Australia is a huge continent with almost eight million square kilometres to explore," Dr Neil Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Geoscience Australia said. "Much of our future resources are hidden or buried across that vast region. This technology will help us see below the surface and identify areas that have potential for mineral exploration."

"It could provide more accurate pre-competitive information to government and industry about the sites we identify for potential exploration," he said.

The EDGE provides a group viewing experience for scientists and non-scientists. The advantage is that scientists can use spatial data to create moving 3D models which show the geological composition of the earth.

"Rather than trying to picture in your mind what lies below the surface, the EDGE gives you an instant picture of what the earth really looks like. Once we've interpreted what the images mean we can then use them as a tool to communicate with a broad audience ranging from industry professionals to non-scientists," Russell Hay, one of the EDGE creators at Geoscience Australia said.

"The EDGE gives the viewer the ability to don their 3D glasses, rotate a slice of earth and add or remove layers of data," Mr Hay added. "By interacting with the 3D image for the first time, our scientists realised instantly that a theory of geological interpretation they had previously thought true, just couldn't be possible."

The EDGE will be used for data interpretation in mineral and petroleum exploration, earthquake monitoring, salinity mapping and as an education and communication tool.

In the future, Geoscience Australia will further develop the EDGE by incorporating the capacity for virtual manipulation of the 3D images and teleconferencing so that people across the country can simultaneously interact with the same model.

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