I am a student and initiating a thesis project for MS specialize degree in geophysics. I am working on tectono - stratigraphy of some area and want to do the 3D subsurface modelling of the same area but have lesser idea, besides am unable to get some proper guide on this too but since i love doing this I want help plzz... As far as i have studied 3D analyst is not very much suitable for this job yet "may be" used in thesis.
3D Analyst can visualize existing models exported from other applications as 3D DXF but it's very difficult (if not impossible) to create subsurface geology solids in ArcGIS.
Geological 3D modelling software = VERY expensive (But that is not a part of your question)
My personal favorite for subsurface modelling and 3D interpolation is Leapfrog Mining by Aranz in New Zealand. The software is very polished and aimed at "Accelerated Geological Modeling". The features are very intuitive what this software can do is simply "jaw-dropping". (so is the price of the software unfortunately)
Leapfrog ships with a manual, tutorials, reference guide and tutorial data and I must say that the tutorial is very well written. According to the tutorial you should be able to go trough it in 6 - 8 hours and cover most of the features. Personally I needed a lot more time but I went trough it in detail.
There are other options: Geosoft uses voxel gridding to create solids but it's not its main focus
Gemcom GEMS allows you to digitize geological formations, define trend, etc and generate solids that are based on interpretation and knowledge of data rather then interpolation.
I agree with Jakub's points, generally that ArcGIS's 3D Analyst is not good for creating subsurface geology solids, and that there are no "free"/open source options. Prices generally start at a few hundred $ and go up to close to $1M. Ask about education discounts.
Here are a few other software packages that are used by me or my colleagues:
This is, by all means, not a comprehensive list, as there are many other software packages out there.
You can build 3D Geological Structural and Property Models using Mathematica. I developed these scripts to make geological modelling available to a wider audience. Mathematica also works with many GIS and CAD formats. This makes it easy to construct models using information from multiple sources.
Further details are available on the UNSW Connected Waters web pages. https://www.connectedwaters.unsw.edu.au/resources/articles/3dmappingdatabase.html
You can download a tutorial example from here: http://library.wolfram.com/infocenter/Conferences/7457/
The Petrosys plug-in for ArcGIS may be helpful. Our organization provides free academic and research licenses to qualifying students and university programs.
Petrosys sub-surface modelling integrates effectively with GIS and Petroleum data sources and is used globally by professionals in the industry. Our sub-surface modelling is focused on the geophysical and geological domains for E&P exploration and development.
For more on the academic grant see: http://www.petrosys.com.au/about/education-grant/
For more on the modelling and plug-in see:
I would suggest that you take a good look at Geo-reka.
It's a new kid on the 3D modelling block, but it is polished, intuitive and very easy to learn. It is and will be constantly evolving and is priced perfectly for consultants and students and universities are encouraged to ask about academic discounts
There's a free one-month trial