High-resolution 3D data sets, such as digital outcrop models (DOMs), are increasingly being used
by geoscientists to supplement field observations and enable multi-scale and repeatable analysis
that was previously difficult, if not impossible, to achieve using conventional methods.
De-spite an increasing archive of DOMs driven by technological advances, the ability to share
and visualize these data sets remains a challenge due to large file sizes and the need for
specialized software. Together, these issues limit the open exchange of data sets and
interpretations. To promote greater data accessibility for a broad audience, we implement three
modern platforms for disseminating models and interpretations within an open science framework:
Sketchfab, potree, and Unity. Web-based platforms, such as Sketchfab and potree, render
interactive 3D models within standard web browsers with limited functionality, whereas game
engines, such as Unity, enable development of fully customizable 3D visualizations compatible
with multiple operating systems. We review the capabilities of each platform using a DOM of an
extensive outcrop exposure of Late Cretaceous fluvial stratigraphy generated from uninhabited
aerial vehicle images. Each visualization platform provides end-users with digital access and
intuitive controls to interact with large DOM data sets, without the need for specialized
software and hardware. We demonstrate a range of features and interface customizability that can
be created and suggest potential use cases to share interpretations, reinforce student learning,
and enhance scientific communication through unique and accessible visualization experiences.
Manuscript received 5 Nov. 2019. Revised manuscript received 12 Feb. 2020.
Manuscript accepted 26 Feb. 2020. Posted 24 March 2020.
© The Geological Society of America, 2020. CC-BY-NC.