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Introduction - three-dimensional geologic mapping: an international perspective

This is the sixth in a series of workshops on three-dimensional (3-D) geological mapping that began in 2001 and has been conducted every 1.5 to 2 years at Geological Society of America meetings and at an annual meeting of the Geological Association of Canada. The workshops have focused on
the development of techniques for 3-D geological mapping of surficial and shallow bedrock mainly for purposes of using 3-D maps and models for specific interpretive outcomes. The workshops have emphasized (1) the need for high-quality subsurface geologic information, (2) procedures for dealing with
large data sets and management of that data, and (3) most importantly, that the better and more precise the geologic model, the better is its predictive capabilities, and therefore, the more improved are
subsequent derivative maps and models, including 3-D hydrogeologic groundwater models.
The previous five workshops, as well as the present workshop, have maintained a format that has intermixed overarching issues (such as basin analysis, contributions of geophysics and groundwater data to 3-D geologic models, and Web delivery of information) with political and economic realities of
national and state/provincial-wide commitments to mapping with specific regional and site-specific case study examples. The primary emphasis of the workshops has been directed towards 3-D applications that help address hydrogeological considerations. However, to achieve an "outside the box"
perspective, workshop organizers have also included key presentations from the oil industry and the engineering and/or consulting community.
With each successive workshop, there have been remarkable advancements in technology, and in turn, continually improved ability to visualize 3-D geological information. This has resulted in improved conceptualization and understanding of often complex geology by the geologists and hydrogeologists
who have developed the information. Moreover, these technological advancements have provided tools that now allow stakeholders and the user community to better comprehend subsurface geology. While a 2-D multi-colored map can portray various geologic materials and/or their interpreted derivative
products on a flat 2-D map, the 3-D map or model provides even the most novice user an opportunity to look within the Earth, rotate and tilt a block of information, strip away and add layers, show data at various depths, etc., and in so doing provide a degree of comprehension of geology that was
previously impossible to achieve. And with better comprehension comes a better understanding and communication of the importance of geology in dealing with various land- and water-use issues. Where are aquifers, how thick are they, how are they distributed, how easily are they being recharged, and
what is their potential for contamination? What near-surface materials are most susceptible to landsliding, slumping, or liquefaction from earthquake shaking? Where are sand and gravel or shallow bedrock aggregate resources for infrastructure development?

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