Visualising the Great Barrier Reef “eReefs” simulation with LavaVu: tools for visualising 4D spatial data on cloud and virtual reality infrastructure.

Mr Owen Kaluza1

1Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform, Clayton, Australia


The huge publicly available simulation of the Great Barrier Reef region, eReefs, contains a wide array of simulated variables over long time-scales and poses an interesting challenge for 3D visualisation.

This great resource has been used as an exemplar to demonstrate some python based visualisation tools developed at Monash.

Python’s library of scientific software tools provides a powerful environment for data-processing to handle large simulation data.

To this, we add our custom tools – in the form of a python package and open-source library, named “LavaVu”. Designed for visualising results of geophysics simulations, it has expanded over time with projects including medical volume data and time lapses of Archaeological excavations.

It runs on increasingly more complex hardware infrastructure, including the CAVE2 immersive virtual reality (VR) cluster, and cloud instances, with or without graphics processing capability.

The ability to handle large 3D/4D (time-varying) simulation data particularly lends this toolkit to visualising the eReefs simulation data on cloud resources and VR systems.

The results are flexible 4D visualisations of the eReefs data, with code to produce them in a set of IPython interactive notebooks to provide published examples and tutorials for the usage of the library.

This public data provides a valuable basis for a set of tutorials for documenting LavaVu, sharing usage methods with a wider audience and communicating the capabilities by demonstration with real data. Hopefully this will also help increase the visibility of eReefs and its contribution to understanding the state and plight of the Great Barrier Reef.


Owen has a background in Computer Science and software development over a range of fields and industries. Since 2009 he has been working in the university sector with researchers at Monash, initially developing cross-platform and web-based 3D visualisation software for simulation data and later involved in parallel GPU-based implementations of research algorithms and biomedical data visualisation.

Currently working as a visualisation software specialist, he develops tools for processing, viewing and interacting with scientific datasets in high-resolution immersive VR environments and exploring new scientific and creative applications of the CAVE2 facility at the Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform.


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