Step aside Hollywood! DNR publishes geologic maps in ‘3D’

Image capture of the Seabeck-Poulsbo 3D PDF showing a cross section along with mapped surface and subsurface (boreholes) geology.
Image capture of the Seabeck-Poulsbo 3D PDF showing a cross section together with mapped surface geology and boreholes.

Step aside Hollywood! DNR’s website now offers a small-but-growing selection of maps in 3D. Found on the DNR Subsurface Geology webpage, our maps are PDF files designed to help you visually explore the relationships between geological features on the surface (surface geology) and what’s below them (subsurface geology). Best of all, you don’t need expensive software to view these maps. The files, created by the DNR Geology and Earth Resources Division, can be viewed and manipulated with free Adobe® Reader® software.

Our 3D PDF maps allow you to zoom, pan, and spin the map to view the geology of a landscape in 360°. You also can experiment with different lighting and transparency effects to highlight selected features both above and below the surface.

See a video tutorial on using 3D maps

Why 3D maps?

Well, they are fun, of course, but more importantly they help us to better understand the relationship between our state’s complex geology and the environment. Geologists are often called upon to evaluate natural resources and associated problems, such as groundwater and aquifer pollutants, and how those pollutants reach groundwater and aquifers. Subsurface data also are useful in assessing geologic hazards posed by landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic events. Data about the subsurface typically comes from geotechnical wells, geophysical surveys, such as seismic shear wave measurements, and water well records.

Currently, the DNR Subsurface Geology webpage hosts our 3D PDF maps of the Seabeck-Poulsbo and Sultan areas. Enjoy, but beware: these are very large files and users with slow internet connections may experience long download times.