Experiment 2 - Subsurface data - Modelling boreholes with Neo4j
One of the disruptive aspects of Neo4j is that the graph modelling approach makes it possible to model not just the data, but also the structure of the data as it would be in the real world.
This is a powerful enabler for geoscience related appliations for environmental, geotechnical, geological and geophysical data. Historically, these types of data require modelling the structural aspects such as the shape and location of an orebody, boreholes, environmental receptors, engineered structures and the data associated with those structures using multiple approaches and multiple systems.
Neo4j has both cartesian and spatial capabilities, and because most structural modelling approaches in the geosciences use meshes or linked lists to model data, Neo4j is very well suited to these use cases.
Further - Neo4j offers the potential to not only model the structures and data that compose those structures, but all adjacent and associated data in a single repository. It also offers powerful tools such as graph algorithms, natural language processing and the ability to factor in all decisions and versions of decisions made to develop a conceptual model of a complex site.
We at Menome Technologies feel that Neo4j has the potential to have a major impact on the world of geology and engineering, and we are working hard to use our team's domain expertise in environmental, oil and gas, engineering, geology and AEC to explore applying Neo4j's capabilities to the world of Geology and Engineering.
It seemed appropriate therefore to focus the second post in our series of Neo4j Spatial Experiements on modelling borehole data with Neo4j.
Modelling Boreholes With Neo4j
Boreholes area foundational aspect of many forms of geological model. Boreholes are a powerful tool for understanding what is below the surface of the ground, and are used in many forms of geological modelling:
- Soil Characterization to understand the structural aspects of the ground for engineering, environmental or geotechnical work (foundation design, )
- Groundwater modelling: Locating subsurface water resources for water wells or other uses
- Contaminate Detection: finding where spilled hazardous materials are located (salt, hydrocarbons etc.)
- Remediation: removing contaminates by pumping contaminated water out of the ground and treating it
- Mining Exploration: deep hardrock boreholes that are logged to locate metals such as gold, silver, zink, copper etc.
- Petroleum Geology: the now well known fracking technique relies on directed drilling of boreholes
All of these types of boreholes are well suited to being modelled with Neo4j.
To keep things simple though for this example I have chosen what is known as a Lithological soil classification borehole. These boreholes are reletively shallow and drilled into soil. The soil is logged using a standard classification method to identify key layers of soil.
The logs are used to delimit soil intervals down the hole. For example, a hole might contain 3 meters of Till, 1 meter of sand, 2 meters of boulders and then bedrock. The next hole beside it might have 3 meters of till, 2 meters of boulders, then bedrock. In this example, when the geologist interprets the two holes, the like material intervals are connected between the holes. The sand 'pinches out' somewhere between the two holes. This forms the basis of a simple geological model of the material beneth the ground.
For this example, we will do the first part of the process: taking the data from a set of borehole logs, and generating borehole intervals of linked lists in Neo4j.
Geology Data Visualization
While Modelling geological data is a big part of the equation of developing a geological model, being able to effectively visualize and work with the geological model is crucial.
We were very excited therefore when we saw what Kineviz had developed with the GraphXR tool. I reached out to the Kineviz team following the presentation they did on GraphXR in the Neo4j Developer community.
The Kineviz team have been great to collaborate with and have taking the borehole model example, and projected it into GraphXR. With their help, we were able to create a 3d visualization of the borehole data that is spatially accurate. GraphXR gives the ability to see the different layers, and manipulate the data set as well.
Details for this example including data, import CQL scripts and transforms required to generate borehole linked lists are located in the following GitHub Repo:
You can check out the final visualization here, but its more rewarding if you build er from scratch!
Borehole Example GraphXR 3d Viz