Immersive virtual reality can potentially open up interesting geological sites to students, academics and others who may not have had the opportunity to visit such sites previously. We study how users perceive the usefulness of an immersive virtual reality approach applied to Earth Sciences teaching and communication. During nine immersive virtual reality-based events held in 2018 and 2019 in various locations (Vienna in Austria, Milan and Catania in Italy, Santorini in Greece), a large number of visitors had the opportunity to navigate, in immersive mode, across geological landscapes reconstructed by cutting-edge, unmanned aerial system-based photogrammetry techniques. The reconstructed virtual geological environments are specifically chosen virtual geosites, from Santorini (Greece), the North Volcanic Zone (Iceland), and Mt. Etna (Italy). Following the user experiences, we collected 459 questionnaires, with a large spread in participant age and cultural background. We find that the majority of respondents would be willing to repeat the immersive virtual reality experience, and importantly, most of the students and Earth Science academics who took part in the navigation confirmed the usefulness of this approach for geo-education purposes.
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)