Experience in the field is a critical educational component of every student studying geology. However, it is typically difficult to ensure that every student gets the necessary experience because of monetary and scheduling limitations. Thus, we proposed to create a virtual field trip based off of an existing 10-day field trip to California taken as part of an undergraduate geology course at the University of Rochester. To assess the effectiveness of this approach, we also proposed to analyze the learning and observation processes of both students and experts during the real and virtual field trips. At sites intended for inclusion in the virtual field trip, we captured gigapixel resolution panoramas by taking hundreds of images using custom built robotic imaging systems. We gathered data to analyze the learning process by fitting each geology student and expert with a portable eye- tracking system that records a video of their eye movements and a video of the scene they are observing. An important component of analyzing the eye-tracking data requires mapping the gaze of each observer into a common reference frame. We have made progress towards developing a software tool that helps automate this procedure by using image feature tracking and registration methods to map the scene video frames from each eye-tracker onto a reference panorama for each site. For the purpose of creating a virtual field trip, we have a large scale semi-immersive display system that consists of four tiled projectors, which have been colorimetrically and photometrically calibrated, and a curved widescreen display surface. We use this system to present the previously captured panoramas, which simulates the experience of visiting the sites in person. In terms of broader geology education and outreach, we have created an interactive website that uses Google Earth as the interface for visually exploring the panoramas captured for each site.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Geology--Study and teaching (Higher)--Interactive multimedia--Design; Geology--Fieldwork--Interactive multimedia--Design; Three-dimensional imaging in geology; Eye--Movements--Data processing
Department, Program, or Center
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)
May, Brandon, "Imaging methods for understanding and improving visual training in the geosciences" (2013). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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