Volume rendering visualization of 3D spherical mantle convection with an unstructured mesh

Shi Chen, Huai Zhang, David Yuen, Shuxia Zhang, Jian Zhang, Yaolin Shi
Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yuqanlu Ave. 100049 Beijing, China
Visual Geosciences, Vol. 13, No. 1. (1 July 2008), pp. 97-104


   title={Volume rendering visualization of 3D spherical mantle convection with an unstructured mesh},

   author={Chen, S. and Zhang, H. and Yuen, D.A. and Zhang, S. and Zhang, J. and Shi, Y.},

   journal={Visual Geosciences},







We propose a new approach to utilize the algorithm of hardware-assisted visibility sorting (HAVS) in the 3D volume rendering of spherical mantle convection simulation results over unstructured grid configurations. We will also share our experience in using three different spherical convection codes and then taking full advantages of the enhanced efficiency of visualization techniques, which are based on the HAVS techniques and related transfer functions. The transfer function is a powerful tool designed specifically for editing and exploring large-scale datasets coming from numerical computation for a given environmental setting, and generates hierarchical data structures, which will be used in the future for fast access of GPU visualization facilities. This method will meet the coming urgent needs of real-time visualization of 3D mantle convection, by avoiding the demands of huge amount of I/O space and intensive network traffic over distributed parallel terascale or petascale architecture.
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