CAD models

The following help pages describe how to build a structural model with either Gocad or SimModeler.

SimModeler CAD workflow

Since September 2019, SimModeler features powerful tools for processing discrete data (geometry in the form of meshes), which allow building structural models without the need to rely on additional CAD software. We illustrate the SimModeler CAD workflow by building the structural model of the Palu earthquake dynamic rupture scenario (Ulrich et al., 2019). See SimModeler CAD workflow.

GOCAD CAD workflow

GOCAD is the tool we historically used to process complex geophysical data into structural models. Since then, SimModeler developed tools for processing discrete data, in particular, a discrete surface intersection algorithm, which is much faster and more reliable than the one from GoCAD. We, therefore, recommend the use of the SimModeler workflow. Because GoCAD may still be useful for fine processing of surface data (e.g. surface smoothing with constraints), we detail the full GoCAD workflow at: Generating a CAD model using GOCAD: basic tutorial.

Useful scripts

A collection of python scripts typically used to create the surfaces used in the CAD model is available here. They are documented (try -h option). The most important scripts are:

  • allows creating a ts surface from a fault trace. The fault trace is resampled, smoothed, and extended using either a constant dip, a depth varying dip, or an along-strike varying dip. This script has been used to generate all the faults of the Kaikoura model (Ulrich et al., 2019).
  •, which allows creating a ts surface from a structured grid of points.
  •, which allows creating a ts surface from a partially structured grid of points. Contrary to, the number of nodes on a line (resp. on a column) should not constant. On the other hand, the lines (resp. the columns) of the point cloud should share constant ordinates (resp. abscissa). This script is used for creating the Sumatra fault of our Sumatra models (see Uphoff et al., 2017).
  •, which allows converting the geometric model from Gocad into a stl file, inputted into the mesh generator (e.g. SimModeler).

Processing high-resolution topographic data

High resolution topographic and bathymetric data are usually available. Generating geometric models including such large datasets can be challenging. In particular, intersecting such surfaces with other surfaces can be time-consuming and error-prone. Here we present various strategies and tools to overcome this challenge.

Using Gdal

Gdal is a powerful library to process gridded data. It allows, for instance, to easily resample or crop a dataset, and to convert files in handy file formats. Here is a commented example of our use of Gdal to create a ts surface from a high-resolution topography of Nepal (file data/merged_original.tif).

#resample data
gdalwarp -s_srs EPSG:4326 -r near -tr 0.0025 0.0025 data/merged_original.tif data/file250b.tif
#crop data
gdalwarp -te 83.7 26. 88.1 29.4 data/file250b.tif data/file250.tif
#change format
gdal_translate -of netCDF -co "FOMRAT=NC4" data/file250.tif data/
#python script from 'GocadRelatedScript'
#The specified hole allows to use algorithm described in 'remeshing the topography'
python data/ data/file250.stl --proj "+init=EPSG:32645" --hole 84.8 86.5 27.1 28.3

Topographic data coarsening with SimModeler

To avoid dealing with too large files when building the CAD model, topography data can be coarsened where fine resolution is not necessary. For further details, see Remeshing the topography.

The same procedure can be also useful when the intersection between 2 surfaces fails in Gocad. In fact, creating a clean mesh of one of the surfaces can facilitate the intersection step in Gocad. In such a case, all surface already intersected with the surface that we want to mesh again have to be exported to SimModeler. The mesh attributes “Use Discrete Geometry Mesh” and “No mesh” have to be assigned to these surfaces. This will ensure that the border nodes of the new meshed surfaces keep unchanged.

Alternative using Gocad

It can occur that the procedure described in Remeshing the topography is not applicable. For example, if a first model with fine topography has been compiled, and we want to extend it without starting from scratch. In this case, an alternative procedure can be used: Adapting the CAD model resolution using Gocad.

Dealing with intersection artifacts

Manually fixing an intersection in Gocad

On the use of projections

Special care must be taken when projecting from WGS84 to a projected coordinate system (e.g. Mercator) as the coordinates of the projected model can then be centered on a point distant from (0,0), which can cause numerical precision issues when building the geometric model or when meshing. For instance, for the Kaikoura scenario, we used EPSG:3994, leading to a model centered on (6e6,-4e6) m for a model size of roughly 500 km. It can then be a good idea to manually center back the model on (0,0,0). This can usually be done by using the option +x_0=xxx and +y_0=yyy in the projection description.