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3D geology

3D geological models depict a simplified version of the underground. The 3D geological models developed by swisstopo make a major contribution towards the regulation of conflicts relating to the utilisation of the underground.

Geological model of the Balsthal region
Geological model of the Balsthal region

Thun (BE), 3D

3D viewer with improved access to subsurface data

The viewer has been revised and the graphical user interface completely renewed. The 3D navigation allows easy handling of already existing functions, such as slicing along a line or box, as well as new functions, such as creating a topographic profile from a line and uploading of your own 3D models.

Detailed knowledge of the underground plays a significant role, both directly and indirectly, in numerous areas of daily life: development of the infrastructure, extraction of energy and raw materials, etc. This means that the demand for the utilisation of the underground is high, but the underground is a limited resource, and this can give rise to conflicts over its utilisation. This issue is therefore of relevance at both the social and the political level. 3D geological models support the resolution of complex conflicts relating to the utilisation of the subsurface.

The National Geological Model

The National Geological Model comprises a combination of 3D models based on various topics and subsurface depths, and it contains varying degrees of detail. 3D geological models always represent only an approximation to reality, but they nonetheless pursue the following objectives:

  • To depict the underground in a geologically accurate manner and at any desired scale
  • To facilitate the best possible interpretation for every underground location
  • To develop 3D geological models for a wide variety of uses 
  • To quickly and conveniently place 3D geological models at the disposal of clients and partners

swisstopo always ensures that its 3D geological models comply with the relevant legal requirements and are described and stored in a standardised form.

The deep underground

The focus of activities in the deep underground is primarily on energy extraction, waste disposal and the extraction of raw materials. Here, 3D geological models are essential decision-making tools.

The shallow underground

It is the uppermost 500 metres below the ground that are the most widely used today. Approximately 90 percent of all underground activities (construction work, extraction of drinking water and...

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


Relevant authority

Swiss Geological Survey
Tel. +41 58 469 05 68

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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