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Public Lecture: Virtual Geosciences: Geology's Vision Quest

14 May 2024
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Event type:
Hybrid, Lecture
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Public Lectures 2024
Hybrid In person at Burlington House and Virtual via Zoom
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Event Details

Virtual Geosciences: Geology's Vision Quest - Dr Brian Burnham

Geological outcrops are routinely used for research and education purposes and are a key component of geoscientific training. Fundamentally, re-evaluation of outcrop observations and reproducibility of results is critical for scientific advancement. Accessibility to the field and outcrops, however, remain problematic for several technical and societal reasons. Since the turn of the 21st Century, however, we have seen a quiet revolution in the way in which field data are being collected, analysed, and visualised. 

This talk will focus on the history of 3D outcrops and the necessity to digitally capture outcrops to preserve the ‘classic’ sites and natural landscapes that have shaped the Earth Sciences. Examples of outcrop re-evaluation that reflect sedimentological concept and technique advances, only possible with digital outcrops, is presented. The important role that digitally preserved outcrops have as milieus for increased accessibility and inclusivity, and their promotion of scientific reproducibility, is discussed. 

The time has never been more appropriate, and the tools never more accessible, to preserve the outcrop and promote a more open and inclusive environment for Earth Science education and training.


Dr Brian Burnham is a geoscientist curious about the crossover between Earth Science and technology. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geosciences and Arts & Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he worked with geoscientists and digital artists to develop methods to analyse and visualise 3D photorealistic models of 3D geological (outcrop) data – in the virtual world.

After graduating with his master’s, Brian decided that he wanted to explore more of what 3D outcrop modelling had to offer the geosciences; this ultimately led him to pursue and complete a PhD "across the pond", at The University of Manchester. During his PhD, Brian travelled all over the UK and the World, from South America to Spain, and back again, building and analysing 3D digital outcrop models of regional- and basin-scale sedimentary systems. 

After his PhD, Brian became a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen and continued to research to develop unique solutions to challenging scientific and geologic questions using 3D digital outcrop models and data. Brian is currently a Senior Geoscientist at VRGeoscience Limited where he works at the intersection of scientific research and discovery and develops tools and analytical methods to empower geoscientists to make better and more informed decisions from digital outcrop data. 

Brian also collaborates with artists and other scientists – exploring topics that are scientifically interesting, artistically innovative, and uniquely fulfilling. It is Brian's belief that accurate and effective dissemination of scientific information is inherently linked with artistic expression of interpretation and representation of facts and new discoveries. As such, Brian is a passionate advocate for open (source and other) scientific research, technology, and resource collaboration and sharing.

Date and time

This event will take place on Tuesday 14 May 2024 at 18:00.


This Public Lecture will take place in person at Burlington House, Piccadilly and online via Zoom.


17:30 – 18:00: Guests will arrive for the Public Lecture

18:00 – 19:00: Talk takes place (including a Q&A)

19:00: Event ends


This lecture is free to attend; however, we are a registered charity (number: 210161) and we would welcome donations. If you would like to donate, you can do so here

You can register for both in-person and virtual tickets here.

If you wish to join our mailing list, please email [email protected]

Geolsoc Contact

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The Geological Society
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