What on Earth has Discovery been up to?

By Dr Kieran Meaney, UNE Discovery


If you have been following the adventures of George the Geologist you will know that UNE Discovery has an increasing appreciation for the rocky world around us. We’ve been hard at work putting together a brand new interactive show with George called Rocking Through Time as well as a brand new geology activity called Think Like A Rock.

Of course, rocks can’t think, but they can tell us stories about the past, ancient environments, and environmental changes through time. The best way to explore these stories of environmental change is to go out into different landscapes and see how the rocks relate to one another. The trouble is that is quite tricky to do when you only have 45 minutes. Unless of course we can bring the landscapes to you!

Introducing GEOLOGY TOAST!

Geology Toast is one of our favorite new things to play with. These super detailed 3D replicas of local landscapes show us just how different rocks relate to one another in the real world – they’re just 100,000 times smaller. Naturally, we bring samples of all the rock types along to play with as well. Each different colour on the landscape matches up to a different rock type.

But how do we make such amazingly detailed models of the real world?

It all starts with real scientific data! In this case, with a Digital Elevation Model (or DEM for short). Using this data we can create a digital model of the landscape, such as this one of Point Lookout and its view.

Point Lookout is a spectacular spot in the New England National Park, about 80km from Armidale NSW, and is perched on the edge of the Great Escarpment with panoramic views across world heritage rainforest to the ocean in the distance.

From here, we can cut the model into slices and 3D print them! How amazing is this technology?

Once we have the model printed, now comes the tricky part: painting on the geology. The sides of each piece of toast represent going underground into the Earth and seeing where all the layers of rock go. To work this out our resident geologist uses real world measurements to calculate how each layer changes at depth to help give these awesome 3D models that extra layer of depth.

If you would like to have a play with our new Geology Toast models make sure to ask for Think Like A Rock when choosing your activities for your next Discovery Voyager visit!