Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Victor Milenkovic

Second Committee Member

Huseyin Kocak

Third Committee Member

Ubbo Visser


Accurate earthquake prediction is a difficult, unsolved problem that is central to the ambitions of many geoscientists. Understanding why earthquakes occur requires a profound understanding of many interrelated processes; our planet functions as a massive, complex system. Scientific visualization can be applied to such problems to improve understanding and reveal relationships between data. There are several challenges inherent to visualizing seismic data: working with large, high-resolution 3D and 4D data sets in a myriad of formats, integrating and rendering multiple models in the same space, and the need for real-time interactivity and intuitive interfaces. This work describes a product of the collaboration between computer science and geophysics. TerraVis is a real-time system that incorporates advanced visualization techniques for seismic data. The software can process and efficiently render digital elevation models, earthquake catalogs, fault slip distributions, moment tensor solutions, and scalar fields in the same space. In addition, the software takes advantage of stereoscopic viewing and head tracking for immersion and improved depth perception. During reconstruction efforts after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, TerraVis was demonstrated as a tool for assessing the risk of future earthquakes.


scientific visualization; computer graphics; seismic data; earthquakes; stereoscopic viewing; head tracking