Earth Science Informatics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 591–603 | Cite as

A virtual globe-based integration and visualization framework for aboveground and underground 3D spatial objects

  • Qiyu Chen
  • Gang LiuEmail author
  • Xiaogang Ma
  • Zhong Yao
  • Yiping Tian
  • Hongling Wang
Research Article


The construction of a large-scale integrated information system has been a hot issue in the field of geoinformatics. It aims to integrate aboveground and underground spatial information and objects in a unified visual environment. Virtual globe, as the most commonly used technology in the construction of Digital Earth, can provide a platform and framework for the integration and visualization of worldwide spatial objects and models. However, the existing works mainly focused on terrains and aboveground spatial entities, and there is still little research on the integration and visualization of large-scale underground geological models and entities in a virtual globe. In this work, the data organizations of aboveground and underground 3D spatial objects were analyzed in detail according to the technical characteristics of the virtual globe. Improved strategies were proposed to achieve the integrated visualization of aboveground and underground 3D spatial objects in a virtual globe-based spherical coordinate. In this process, the terrain surface based on Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) was used as an intermediate layer to unify the spatial coordinate system. An improved scene cutting approach was used to overcome the challenge that underground geological structures cannot be integrated and visualized with aboveground spatial entities, terrains and landforms. Finally, we developed a virtual globe-based prototype system using OpenSceneGraph (OSG) and osgEarth as the 3D visualization engine. The aboveground and underground spatial models of Fuzhou, a coastal city of eastern China, were applied in this system to verify the validity of the strategies proposed in this paper. In addition, the efficiency of this system in terms of scheduling and visualizing was tested by using the massive models of Fuzhou.


Virtual globe Integration and visualization 3D spatial objects Aboveground and underground Scene clipping 



We are grateful to Professor Babaie and anonymous reviewers for the insightful comments and suggestions which led to the improvements in the manuscript. This work was supported in part by the Natural Science Foundation of China (U1711267, 41172300) and the National High-tech R&D Program of China (863 Program) (2012AA121401).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiyu Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiaogang Ma
    • 3
  • Zhong Yao
    • 1
  • Yiping Tian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hongling Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Hubei Key Laboratory of Intelligent Geo-Information ProcessingChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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