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My employer wants me to look into constructing geology maps, modeling 3D subsurface geological formations, producing geological cross sections and other mining related products from various drill hole and survey data.

I am looking for recomendations for a software package or an ArcGIS plug-in. I am currently looking at "Target for ArcGIS by Geosoft" and "Surpack by Gemcom." It seems that Target is great for the back-end data organization and the generation of cross sections but although it can visualize data in 3D it seems that it lacks there. On the other hand the Geocom software seems to focus on 3D modeling and editing.

We already have ArcGIS 10 (Editor) with 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst so I'd prefer a recommendation for a plug-in (Add-in) that extends ArcGIS functionality to the above mentioned areas.

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Hmm, I thought we had some miners around here. Jakub, maybe you should get a bit more specific about the kind of mining you are doing. –  jvangeld Mar 15 '11 at 0:09
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At first I thought you meant data mining. –  Michel de Ruiter Mar 16 '11 at 14:41
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Target for ArcGIS was pretty good when I used it a couple of years ago - it may be even better now. At that point it didn't really integrate closely enough with ArcGIS to fill the gap for us. There is lots of software that let you work with data in cross section view but few built on top of ArcGIS. I haven't used either of these but you could take a look at Lynx Seismap or CrossView. There is also Xacto X-Section which is free.

When it comes to 3D, Discover 3D has one of the best, most flexible, 3D engines I've used but also has a 'cutting plane' section that lets you move through your data in section view. I think a section view, as well as a full 3D perspective view, is critical as it eliminates the difficulties in editing with a perspective view. It also gives you a much better view of the subsurface at any point - whereas many 3D viewers leave you looking at only the shallowest or 'closest' parts of your model. Discover 3D also has a good selection of 3D feature editing tools and import and export options pretty well aligned with software used in the minerals sector. It supports shapefile and ermapper grid - so it is possible to work with it in conjunction with ArcGIS. It's owned by Pitney Bowes though, who also own Mapinfo, so that integration is unlikely to get better unless the FBGD API lets them add that as a supported format.

Not ArcGIS plugins but you could also look at GoCad - which is extremely powerful but also expensive. Geomodeller is worth a look too.

Personally I'm not convinced that editing models is best done in the 3D view itself. Instead my approach has been to try and smooth transfer, or automatically 'sync' data between different tools so that, for example, input data can be created and edited in both plan view (with ArcMap) and in section view - which pretty well mimics a traditional geological workflow. You might do the same but with data created in a non-ArcGIS environment such as seismic workstations. There's lots of options for actually building the 3D features from that input data, whether that is as dxd or multipatch or whatever, through geoprocessing tools or extensions.

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Thanks Phil. Lots of great info. –  Jakub Jun 1 '11 at 18:09
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Rockworks, EVS and/or Equis could fulfill your requirements.

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Have you looked at DataMine? I think it will meet your needs.

DataMine - Software Options

UPDATE - Very odd!! I think DataMine has been bought out. The Downhole Explorer extension seems to live here

Ok -- looks like the software has been acquired by CAE. This could mean the software will be even more capable than it was prior. I don't have time for a read-up right now. Interesting. At any rate, anyone in need of 3D modelling, interpolation for mining applications, etc, this software was absolutely "INCREDIBLE". The project Geologists at my prior job used it "exclusively" and it was apparently VERY accurate (barring any user error on the entry of the assay data, etc). Cheers GIS-folk

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The link seems broken. –  underdark Jun 1 '11 at 11:24
    
You are correct underdark. Weird!! It did work. I tested it after posting it. I'll Google it again and get back to you. –  Dano Jun 1 '11 at 13:44
    
@ underdark - I updated the info in my post. I don't have time to research (busy at work). Hope this helps, and have a peek. –  Dano Jun 1 '11 at 13:56
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