UNAVCO IDV Highlight: Seismic Tomography

The UNAVCO IDV is probably the most powerful tool for visualizing seismic tomography models.

See Visualizing and Analysing Seismic Tomography with the IDV.

DNA10 model of Vs anomalies under the U.S. in a 3D oblique view; vertical exaggeration is 1:1.

<< Click for full size.

Introducing the UNAVCO IDV

The UNAVCO IDV (Integrated Data Viewer) is a software package for exploration and visualization of Earth-located geoscience data. Very often the IDV is the best way to show all the details of 3D Earth-located science data.

The IDV is designed to promote effective investigation and understanding of modern, complex, high volume geoscience data. With modern data sets, simple maps and tables of numbers hide rather than reveal important details of Earth structure. Clear and simple illustrations are essential to present conclusions, but to explore and find meaning in high-volume and 3D data, there is tremendous benefit in interactive ways to present and investigate all the data in full detail.

The IDV uses the full strength of the human eye, mind, and perception to discover and understand meaningful details and time variations in complex spatial data. IDV displays, including imagery, time animations, and movies of 3D displays, are also very effective in presentations.

To see how the UNAVCO IDV handles geophysics data, see geoscience data and displays, such as epicenters and hypocenters, focal mechanisms, tomography models, GNSS solutions, the geoid, and mantle convection.

The IDV provides:

  • many display types for any data used; with wide choices of map projection, scale, and vertical range.
  • multiple data sources or types in single displays
  • true 3D displays and full time controls
  • data access from remote servers as well as local files
  • integrated, built-in processing in the Python language, with the facility to incorporate your own processing code.
  • saving and sharing IDV bundle files (configuration files) to set up your usual displays, to allow quick reprocessing, and to share with others to exactly replicate your processing and displays
  • comparison of diverse data sets in two or more displays with linked zoom and pan.
  • projection for 3D "Geowall" displays
  • free, open source, software.

The IDV is an advanced data display and manipulation tool, as detailed as ArcGIS and MATLAB. Like them it requires some training and time to use well. Begin with the UNAVCO IDV User Guide, the Unidata IDV user guide, or attend an IDV workshop at Unidata in Boulder. Look at the IDV Data Types to see what you can do.

The IDV is not primarily intended to make publication-quality images. IDV displays do not include borders or captions labels; they are for interactive 3D data exploration and visualization. You can add decoration to IDV imagery with graphics software to make good figures for publication.

UNAVCO IDV Highlight: Focal mechanisms

The UNAVCO IDV can visualize focal mechanisms in interactive displays in true 3D,
and combine them with other geophysical data.

See Focal Mechanism Displays.

<< Click for full size.

More Sample IDV displays

Click to see a 3D IDV display of a proposed model of the Moho surface, as a relief map in oblique view. The north-south running ridges are non-physical artifacts of the data processing used to create the numerical data set of Moho depths. These artifacts probably would never have been detected using conventional data displays such as contours or vertical cross sections. They are very clear in this 3D IDV display.

Click to see a desktop with IDV windows showing Mt St Helens in 3D topographic relief using a USGS high resoultion DEM, an arial photo of the ground, seismic tomography, 3D GPS velocity vectors, IDV control panels, and the Smithsonian Institution information page for this volcano displayed with the IDV.

Click to see a 3D oblique view of Yellowstone region geophysics from the southeast with a seismic tomography grid (data courtesy of R. Smith et al., Univ Utah) displayed both as isosurfaces and a vertical cross section, GPS velocity vectors (purple; UNAVCO PBO), earthquake focal mechanism beachballs (R. Smith et al., Univ Utah), surface fault lines (green; USGS shape files), and semi-transparent 3D surface relief (USGS). The Yellowstone caldera is outlined in red (USGS). The straight red line can be dragged to change the position and angle of the cross-section. Mouse drags on other parts of the display pan, zoom and rotate the display (not active in this static image capture).

Click to see UNAVCO IDV image of Colorado region geophysics, oblique 3D view from southwest. Geophysics summary cross section (Karlstrom al. 2006, Plate 3), geology map (Colorado State GS), seismic tomography isosurface (S. Van der Lee et al.; orange), seismicity (IRIS DMC archive; blue crosses), earthquake focal mechanism beachballs (Global CMT Project), surface faults (USGS; yellow), and GPS surface velocity vectors (UNAVCO Plate Boundary Observatory, red). The live display in the IDV is fully interactive in 3D with zooming, panning and rotation in any direction, and toggling data types.


The IDV enables the goals of cyberinfrastructure, with online data access using several protocols, simultaneous use of diverse remote and local data sources, diverse data types, computations for data analysis, sophisticated visualization, and aids for collaboration such as sharing IDV bundle files. All these tools promote cyberinfrastructure's "vertical and horizontal" vision for data analysis.

Subscribe to the UNAVCO IDV Users' Email Forum

If you want to be included in the UNAVCO IDV users' email forum, please check out URL ls.unavco.org / mailman / listinfo / unavco-idv. You can participate in discussions about use of the UNAVCO IDV, ask questions of other IDV users, and see messages and news from UNAVCO about the IDV.

Once you are subscribed, emails for the UNAVCO IDV forum should then be sent to unavco-idvls.unavco.org. Past emails to the list will be available in an IDV forum archive. Emails sent to UNAVCO forums are seen by other list members and later appear in the online archive. This is not the Unidata IDV users forum, which is largely related to meteorology.

Email support for the UNAVCO IDV

Send email to the UNAVCO IDV staff, Stuart Wier, to wierunavco.org.

If your question is related to Unidata IDV software or basic IDV use covered by Unidata, your email will be forwarded to Unidata IDV support.

Origins of the IDV

The UNAVCO IDV is based on UCAR's Unidata IDV for meteorology. Together they provide visualization for physical sciences of the Earth. The Unidata IDV is a "meteorologically oriented, platform-independent, application for visualization and analysis," begun in 2000 as an early cyber infrastructure tool for support of research in meteorology. Hundreds of meteorological researchers now use the Unidata IDV. Unidata is part of UCAR a top national meteorological research center funded by the NSF, in Boulder Colorado. The UNAVCO IDV was created by UNAVCO with funding from the GEON program, beginning in 2004.

Last modified Monday, 08-Oct-2012 16:54:33 UTC