I'm searching for QGIS (or other open source GIS software) tools that can analyse XYZ data.

Also I'm interested to hear about if anyone have migrated to non commercial software regarding geological 3D analysis and thereby what is your experience - do's and don'ts?

  • 1
    Hi Nash! welcome to GIS.Stackexchange. The question in its current state is too broad. I'll suggest that you explain what kind of analysis you want to do, so that we can answer it. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


As a geologist, my solution is GRASS GIS with nviz or Python from the Python Console with modules that allow the 3D representation (I never use commercial softwares and Globe or Horao, witch display QGIS layers on top of 3D globe, are inappropriate for geological 3D modelling):


For Python

For GRASS GIS, you can use:

  1. the GRASS GIS application only
  2. GRASS GIS from the GRASS plugin of QGIS
  3. GRASS GIS nviz from Processing in QGIS:

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Some of my geological examples with GRASS GIS:

  • 3D vectors and rasters surfaces:

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For non commercial software regarding geological 3D:

  • Thank you for your input and sharing. I'll have a look at this asap.
    – Nash
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 14:02

For my high resolution 3D views I have used BLENDER which is a great 3D open source tool. It is possible to add height-maps and extrude your map which you want to have in 3D.

  1. In Blender activate the "image as plane" addon.
  2. Then you add the image of your map.
  3. Add a new texture and select your height map.
  4. Add modifiers you need. For me subdivision surface, displace and smooth did it. At displace modifier you select your height map and choose uv mapping.
  5. On left side (object tools) you also need to click on smooth.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

You can also set light sources to your scene and generate fly through videos.

There are a lot of tutorials for doing so. Just check them out.

It took me a few days to learn it. There is a great community behind it and a lot of tutorials.

You can export your scene with different rendering settings.

  • 1
    This answer needs more details to be useful. For example, you could add more detail on how blender would apply to geological 3D analysis, when it is and is not appropriate, and why. Sample activities and outputs, perhaps some workflow would all be useful. As written, your answer is hard to make use of.
    – BradHards
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 8:41
  • Here a tutorial about combining QGIS and Blender: kodex.tumblr.com/post/37038839550/… Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 9:10

There is Globe plugin on QGIS. The plugin itself is not stable and it seems it does not work on Windows (according to Matthias -see comment- it also works actually!). It was developed around 2010 and I'm not sure is is maintained anymore. At least, it works for Ubuntu users - but may require some hacks). I know it is used by oslandia to test Postgis 3D functionality. See some videos here : http://vimeo.com/oslandia

edit : Oslandia previously hacked Globe plugin, but it seems the developed their own named horao, see : http://oslandia.github.io/horao/ (see also Matthias comment)

As an open-source alternative, I think GRASS GIS and NVIZ module may be stronger for visualization. Postgis data could be linked to GRASS as well.

  • The QGIS globe plugin works on windows, but is marked experimental, like on other platforms. The cited work from Oslandia never got merged, but they developped a new plugin called horao which is similar. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 15:48

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