ABSTRACT:

Visualization of the seafloor environment is a rapidly developing field. Visualization enables data sets collected at sea to be presented in a coherent and accessible manner. The Mining Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (MRC-UNSW), Australia has been researching into the potential of mining seafloor massive sulfides. The research is aided by visualization of the actual environment. Various methods of relevant marine data collection used by MRC-UNSW are presented. Data management and incorporation into a visualization model is discussed. It is concluded that the approach presented offers a potential for integration of the model with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) database.

INTRODUCTION

"Scientific visualization is the process of using a computer to digitally represent natural phenomenon based on numeric data and mathematical models and manipulating the image to bring more insight to the phenomenon. This visualization process includes gathering, processing, displaying, analyzing and interpreting data" (Wolff et al., 1993). Visualization enables data to be represented in a simple fashion. It allows the viewer to see the environment from all aspects and can encapsulate a great volume of information. Visualization of seafloor mining sites draws from a large body of recent research on seafloor habitat characterisation (e.g., Anderson et al., 2002; Collins et al., 1996; Fish and Carr, 1990; Kloser et al., 2001; Kostylev et al., 2001) and offers an interesting approach to the standard visualization field of research. The Mining Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (MRC-UNSW), Sydney, Australia has recently joined this exciting field of study with a specific focus on seafloor massive sulfides (SMS) also recognized as polymetallic massive sulfides (PMS). A two-stream project has been established to investigate both the mechanical properties of a seafloor mining system and the environmental impact of SMS mining (Holden, 2002).

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