Increasing the usability and accessibility of geodynamic modelling tools to the geoscience community: UnderworldGUI


Geoscientists are faced with a number of complexities that represent obstacles to the development of realistic simulation of deep earth processes. Realistic 4D thermo-mechanical simulation using software packages like Underworld and Gale, when combined appropriately with geoscientific expertise, can lead to novel insights into the deformation of geological structures at a wide range of time and spatial scales. The challenge for end-user geoscientists lies in applying their knowledge within the framework of the software’s input specification, including initial, internal, and boundary conditions and output visualization parameters. We have built a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to remove many of the difficulties related to editing the Extensible Markup Language (XML) encoded input files of Underworld/Gale geomodels and therefore, to greatly broaden the user base of these software packages. By helping Underworld/Gale to meet a large audience, we provide a tool to the geoscience community that helps to move from untested conceptual models to physically valid, properly scaled modelling. Furthermore, the UnderworldGUI offers a mechanism for storing and retrieving experimental models in a centralised database, thus providing the geoscience community with a means to share the outcomes of its experimental research. Further details of the UnderworldGUI are available at the web site

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  1. 1.

    See the APAC National Facility’s Underworld Web site at, last accessed 19 January 2007.

  2. 2.

    See the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics’ Gale Web site at, last accessed January 24, 2007.

  3. 3.

    See the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing’s StGermain Web site at, last accessed 19 January 2007.

  4. 4.

    See the UnderworldGUI wiki at, last accessed 25 January 2007.


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This project was supported by the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC). Underworld example models were run on APAC resources. Our humble thanks go to J. D. Clemens and D. Yuen for their editorial handling, and to the anonymous reviewers for improving this paper with their comments.

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Correspondence to Shea Goyette.

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Goyette, S., Takatsuka, M., Clark, S. et al. Increasing the usability and accessibility of geodynamic modelling tools to the geoscience community: UnderworldGUI. Vis Geosci 13, 25–36 (2008).

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  • Finite-element
  • Gale
  • Particle-in-cell
  • Underworld
  • User interface