The Upper Permian (Zechstein) salt deposits extensively distributed in the Polish Basin are characterized by complex forms of salt domes of various types and stratiform structures. 3-D geological modeling of selected salt structures is a challenging task carried on at the Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute (PGI-NRI) for assessment of salt production and potential of hydrocarbon accumulations. In addition to standard geo-modeling software, some visualization tools are developed for better approach and understanding of complexity of salt domes.
Initially, the VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) standard was used to save three-dimensional geological structures in a compressed format that could be easily viewed in a web browser in dedicated viewer website. It was useful for basic sharing of conceptual models of the salt formations, including their internal structures. The complexity of tectonic deformations of salt layers required high level of generalization to present most important features of the formation. VRML was then followed by its successor the X3D format (eXtensible 3D) which brought better functionality and more metadata options for description of 3-D models of salt structures. The X3D combined with Content Management System was used to build advanced visualization system characterized by simple and intuitive interface accessible for every geologist without any IT background and for general users. That offers unlimited possibilities for a varied presentation of 3D models of geological structures in this case – the salt deposits both the stratiform (e.g. the Mechelinki salt deposit) and the salt dome (e.g. Lanieta dome) structures. The Geo3D browser displays models as a 3D block-diagrams, vertical cross-sections along arbitrary line, horizontal slice maps and virtual bore-holes in the studied structure of salt dome. The 3-D property grid web-visualization is under development as internal part of the viewer, which will enhance significantly the way various salt types are displayed.