SCEC-VDO 3D Visualization

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Launching SCEC-VDO

To lanch SCEC-VDO, use one of the following links. The web start version should launch automatically, and update when new versions are available. If you'd prefer, or if the web start version doesn't work, download the JAR version below.

Launch with Java Web Start (recommended) - Download JAR File

If you recieve "Could not create the Java Virtual Machine" error messages, you can try the following lower memory version of SCEC-VDO. You may recieve errer messages when loading large datasets, however:

Launch with Java Web Start (low memory)

JAR version only: If you experience errors when loading large datasets, you may need to increase your Java Heap Size. To do this you'll have to run SCEC-VDO from the command line as follows:

java -Xmx1024M -jar SCEC_VDO.jar

If you use the jar version, you must also download and install Java3D (which is bundled with the web start build above) prior to launch.

Once lanched, you will see a dialog box with region selection. Select "California" in the "Set initial view" dialog, and hit OK. To launch WGCEP plugins, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> [plugin name] from the top menu. The plugin will show up on the right of the window.

Choose the "Help" menu for 3D navigation instructions.

This is an abridged version of SCEC/UseIT intern software. For more information, see

General WGCEP Fault Plugin Documentation

This section contains documentation common to all OpenSHA based SCEC-VDO plugins.

Displaying Faults

To toggle the visibility of any fault, click the check box on the right hand side of the table (in the "Visible" column). Faults are stored in a tree structure. To expand or collapse a node, click the button to the left of the node's name. Toggling visibility for a high level node will select/unselect all children faults.

Changing Fault Colors

Many plugins have color scales for coloring different fault sections by a scalar value. To view or change how the faults are colored, select the "Color" tab at the bottom of the plugin. There may be multiple options in the "Color Faults By:" drop down box. Selecting different values will color the faults by this new parameter, such as Strike, Dip, Rake, Slip Rate, etc...

For scalar colorers, you can load your own custom GMT CPT file. For more information on the CPT file format, see:

You can also change the color of individual fault sections, or entire tree's, but clicking the color to the right of the fault name.

Changing Fault Display Type

Most faults can be displayed in multiple ways, such as points, lines, or polygons. To tweak the 3D display, use the "Display Settings" tab.

Update the drop down box label "Geometry Type" to select the 3D representation. Various parameters are provided for each geometry type, such as sizes, colors, and transparency.

Note: polygons are very memory intensive, and might not display correctly for large datasets. If using evenly gridded faults, such as UCERF fault sections, you may want to adjust the fault grid spacing first. See Changing Fault Settings below.

Changing Fault Settings

Some fault plugins have settings that dictate how the fault surfaces themselves are constructed. If this is the case, there will be a tab called "Fault Settings". These parameters let you select, for example:

  • Stirling/Frankel Representations
  • Fault Grid Spacing

Computing Fault Distances

It can be useful to find all faults that are within a certain distance of each other. To do this, you can use the "Fault Distances" tab (only available in select plugins).

First you must select a distance cutoff. Because fault distance calculations can be quite time consuming, this helps reduce computation time, and also trims the list of distances. You can also sort the list by either minimum distance, or by the average slip rate of the faults involved.

To compute distances, click the "Update" button. This may take some time, depending on the number of fault sections. Only currently visible fault sections will be used in distance calculations. One the calculation has finished, the connections between nearby faults will be listed in the "Fault Connections" list at the bottom of the tab. To highlight a specific connection, select it in the list. The two faults will both be colored brightly (green and teal), and the closest point on each surface will be highlighted (large white spheres).


Some plugins allow for faults to be animated through the "Animation" tab. Animations can update fault colors and/or visibility over time.

If a plugin allows multiple types of animation, a drop down box will be present at the top of the tab. This can be used to select between different types of animations.

To control the step in an animation sequence, use the Play/Pause/Previous/Next buttons. You can also drag the slider at the top. If there are ID's associated with each step in the sequence, you can enter an ID in the "ID: " box to jump to that step.

You can adjust the duration of the animation with the "Duration: " parameter. Some animations correspond to real time events. In this case you can select between "evenly spaced" animation, which plays each step of the animation for a fixed amount of time, or "time based" animation, which scaled the amount of time that each step is displayed based on each even't real duration, and the total animation duration. This option is only available for certain plugins. You can also choose to loop the animation, so that it plays constantly.

Some animations have parameters which effect the animation. These parameters will be present at the bottom of the tab, and can only be selected when the animation is paused.

Faults for Simulators Plugin

This plugin plots input and output data from the SCEC Earthquake Simulators Comparison Project. To launch the Simulators plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> Faults For Simulators from the top menu.

First, select the input fault geometry file. There is a drop down box at the top of the plugin labeled "Input". You can either select a preset (which will be downloaded and cached locally), or open your own file.  Available fault geometry files and their formats are described here.  

NOTE - If you don't see the faults, try selecting Window -> Globe Transparency.

Simulator fault elements will show up in the Tree structure. Click the check boxes to view/hide faults (see Displaying Faults above). Initially, they will be colored by slip rate in mm/year.

If you would like to view specific ruptures from a simulation, first you must load an output file (options are not bundled with this software because these files are way too big; formats are described here, and examples are available here under password protection). First, make sure you have chosen the appropriate geometry/fault file for the given output file you want to examine.  Click "browse" under "Simulator Output File" at the top of the plugin. Once this has been done, click on the "Animation" tab. See Animation above for details on how animation works. If you want to only view events above a certain magnitude, set the "Min Mag" param at the bottom of the panel (you may have to scroll down). If you only want to see ruptures involving a particular fault, use the "Only Events Involving" parameter.

Fault Sections 2.0/3.0 Plugin

To launch the Fault Sections plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> Fault Sections 2.0/3.0 from the top menu.

This plugin is used to view the master list of fault sections in the California Reference Geologic Fault Parameter Database, some of which are mutually inconsist

First, select the database that you wish to view at the top of the plugin. You can select between the UCERF3 and UCERF2 databases. Then use the tree structure to view faults (see Displaying Faults above).

Initially, fault sections will be colored by their slip rate, but they can also be colored by strike/dip/rake. See the "Color" tab at the bottom of the plugin, and Changing Fault Colors above.

Fault Sections 3.0 Edit/Test Plugin

To launch the Fault Sections Edit/Test Plugin in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> Fault Sections 3.0 Edit/Test Plugin from the top menu.

This plugin is used to prototype and update faults in the fault sections database.

First you can either work on a new fault, or modify an existing one. Select either "New/Test" or a fault name from the "Fault Section To Edit" drop down box at the top of the plugin. If you selected an existing fault, it should already be displayed in the 3D environment. Next, hit "Edit Fault Data." Existing faults will already have data filled in. Once you are done adding/modifying fault parameters, hit the "Update" button to see your changes in SCEC-VDO. This will also hide the edit window, but you can get it back by clicking "Edit Fault Data" again. To dismiss any changes, click "Cancel." If there are any errors with your fault, a dialog box will appear and the window will stay visible until you correct them, or hit "Cancel".

It is also possible to edit and add fault sections right from the plugin.

To add a fault section, first make sure that "New/Test" is selected in the "Fault Section To Edit" drop down box. Click "Edit Fault Data" and input parameters for your new fault. When you're done inputting fault data, it is recommended that you first click "Update" to ensure that all parameters are valid, and that it looks OK in the 3D environment. Once you've done this, click "Edit Fault Data" to bring the edit view up again and then click "Add to DB". You will be prompted for your username and password. Once the addition has completed, you will see a success message, or an error message if there were any problems.

Similarly, to update a fault section, follow the same information as above, except with an existing fault selected.

As with all other fault plugins, you can also tweak the Fault Display Type.

WGCEP Fault Models Plugin

To launch the Fault Models plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> WGCEP Fault Models Plugin from the top menu.

This plugin builds upon the Fault Sections 2.0/3.0 Plugin above. A fault model is simply a list of fault sections that represents a viable, complete, self-consistent model for the region.

Multiple fault models are listed in the tree structure. You can select an entire fault model by clicking the "Visible" check box next to its name, or expand the tree for more information. Fault sections that are unique to a particular model (are present in this model, but not in any other models) are grouped under "Unique to this model". This is useful for exploring which fault sections differ between the various models.

WGCEP Deformation Models Plugin

To launch the Deformation Models plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> WGCEP Deformation Models Plugin from the top menu.

This plugin builds upon the Fault Models Plugin above. Deformation models extend fault models to include possible changes in the default slip rates (as stored in the fault section database, and viewed in the Fault Sections/Models plugins above) in order to represent alternative possibilities (e.g., a given fault model might have alternative slip-rate possibilities).

Similar to the Fault Models Plugin, you can view either all sections from a given Deformation Model, or view just those sections which are unique to this model (e.g. fault sections whose slip rate differs between models).

Sub Sections 2.0/3.0 Plugin

To launch the Sub Sections plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> Sub Sections 2.0/3.0 from the top menu.

Sub Sectiosn provides a means of sub-sectioning the sections in a given deformation model.

First, select the fault database with the drop down box at the top. This allows you to select between deformation models for UCERF2 and UCERF3.

Next, select a deformation model to explore. This is done by selecting a model from the "Deformation Model" drop down menu at the top.

Finally, select the maximum subsection length. This determines the width of the sub sections, thus the number of sub sections that each fault section is divided into. The units are down dip width, where 1.0 means that each sub section would be roughly square, 0.5 would yeild skinny sections, and 2.0 would yeald wide sections. You may also want to adjust the settings in the Fault Settings tab (see Changing Fault Settings above).

UCERF3 Inversion Plugin

To launch the UCERF3 Inversion plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> UCERF3 Inversion Plugin from the top menu.

You must first load a Rupture Set/Solution file by clicking the appropriate button. Example solutions (Model1, Model1A, Model2, and UCERF2) are loacated here (inside the zip file):

Faults will show up in the Tree structure. Click the check boxes to view/hide faults (see Displaying Faults above).


To view ruptures and clusters animations, click on the Animation tab. First, familiarize yourself with the Animation capabilities in SCEC-VDO. There are 3 different types of animations supported:


This is the default animation. It allows you to view the following sets of ruptures:

  • all ruptures
    • this is the default
  • ruptures involving a certain section
    • Select a section from the "Ruptures for Section" drop down menu on the animation tab
  • ruptures above a magnitude threshold
    • Set the "Min Mag" value at the bottom of the animation tab
  • ruptures above a rate threshold (only applicable if a solution was loaded)
    • Set the "Min Rate" value at the bottom of the animation tab

They can be sorted by (via the "Sort By" drop down box in the animation tab):

  • ID
  • Num Sections (decreasing)
  • Mag (Decreasing or Increasing)
  • Rate (Decreasing)

Ruptures by Cluster

This is only applicable to certain ruptures sets that use a cluster model. The entire cluster will be highlighted in green, while the specific rupture selected will be highlighted in red. To select the cluster that you would like to animate, use the "Cluster" drop down box at the bottom of the Animation tab (you may need to scroll down). Remember that you can always adjust the speed of the animation by changing the duration, or manually step through ruptures by clicking "Prev" and "Next".

Section Connections

This animation allows you to view all of the faults sections that a given section is connected to. Not all files specify this data.


The "Color" tab allows you to specify multiple ways to color the ruptures, many of which only work with a solution loaded (as opposed to just a rupture set, without rates).

Select a colorer with the "Color Faults By" drop down box.

Solution Comparisons

This is a special Colorer which allows you to compare data within 1 or 2 solutions. To enable multi-solution comparisons, first load a comparison solution by:

  1. In the "Color" tab, select "Solution Comparisons" under "Color Faults By"
  2. Click "Browse" under "Load Solution Comparison File"

Comparison Type allows you to select WHAT you are comparing:

  • Sol. Slip vs Def Model Slip
    • compares the solution slip rate to the slip rate from the rupture set
  • Sol. Part. Rates vs Paleo Visible
    • compares the solution total participation rate to the paleoseimicially visible rate
  • Sol. Part. Rates vs Comparison Sol. (only applicable with comparison solution loaded)
    • compares the solution total participation rate with the rates from the comparison file
  • Sol. Slip Rates vs Comparison Sol. (only applicable with comparison solution loaded)
    • compares the solution slip rate with the rates from the comparison file

"Plot" allows you to select how the difference is plotted on the faults:

  • Ratio
    • val1 / val2
  • Difference
    • val1 - val2
  • Absolute Difference
    • abs(val1 - val2)
  • Fractional Difference
    • (val1 - val2) / val2

Multi Fault Rupture Viewer

Once a solution is loaded in the UCERF3 Inversion Plugin, select "Multi Fault Rup Rates" in the drop down box at the top of the "Color" tab.

This plugin uses special keyboard combiniations to select faults of interest. To select a fault section, hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on a fault section. This will color all OTHER fault section by the rate in which they participate in a rupture with the selected fault section. The selected sections will be colored in white (or you can change this color in the panel on the right). You can then SHIFT+CLICK another fault section to view rates on that section instead. If you want to view the rate at which faults rupture with multiple section, you can CONTOL+SHIFT+CLICK to select multiple sections. Fault inbetween your selections willl be colored by the rate that each of those points rupture together. For example, if you were interested in knowing the rate at which the SAF ruptures through the creeping section: first SHIFT+CLICK on a section of the Cholame section of the SAF, then CONTROL+SHIFT+CLICK just north of the creeping section.

You can also select "parent sections" (as opposed to sub sections), where sectiuons will be colored by the rate at which they rupture with any part of the selected fault. Check the box next to "Select Parent Sects" to enable this mode, then continue to use the plugin as before. Selected sections will be highlighted with a white bar above the entire section.

By default, multiple selections are treated as a logical AND (only ruptures that involve both sections are included). You can swith this to a logical OR (any rupture that touches any selected section will be included) by checking the "Selection OR" box.

To view the ruptures themselves that involve these sections, click the box next to "Display Rups." This will display ruptures traces stacked above the faults, colored and orderd by their rate. You can filter these ruptures by their magnitude and rate at the bottom of the plugin.

Finally, you can hide all of the gray faults that don't rupture with any of your selections by checking the box next to "Hide NaNs." If everything disappears, then you likely have this option selected with no faults selected. Simply deselect "Hide NaNs" and then reselect after you have selected your faults of interest.

Geologic Slip Rate Data File Viewer

To launch the Slip Rate viewer, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> Geologic Slip Rate Data File Viewer from the top menu. It may take a few moments to load, as it will attempt to download the file from the internet.

If you have an internet connection, the file should show up by default. Otherwise, you can browse for the file if it is stored on your hard drive by clicking the "Browse" button.

Once loaded, the slip rate data will automatically be displayed. It is colored by value (the same color scale as the default deformation model scale), and the symbol depends on the type of value. Discrete values are spheres, while minimum values are cones pointing up from the surface, and maximum values are cones pointing down towards the surface. Ranges are cylidars, scaled by the amount of variation.

To see specific values, click on the 3D symbol when the plugin is currently displayed on the right. If you switch to another plugin, you will no longer be able to click on symbols.

NGA West Fault Viewer

To launch the NGA West fault viewer, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> NGA West Fault Viewer from the top menu.

Check the box to select all "NGA West POL/TLL Files" and it should display correctly. Note that setting a Geometry type of "Points" isn't applicable here, and Polygons (default) and Lines are recommended.

Coulomb Filter Test Plugin

To launch the Coulomb Filter Test Plugin, in SCEC-VDO, select Display -> WGCEP Dev -> UCERF3 Coulomb Filter Test Plugin from the top menu. Note that this plugin may take an especially long time to load, please be patient as it could take up to 5 minutes (even though it may appear to be frozen).

Check the "visible" box to select all "Fault Sections" and it should display correctly. Note that it defaults to FM 3.1 but you can select FM3.2 from the drop down box at the top (this will trigger another rupture set build which may take considerable time once again).

Then select the "Animation" tab. There are two primary means of Animation, the first (and default) is to view all of the junctions that are filtered out as a result of the coulomb filter. Use the slider or next/prev buttons to view all of the filtered junctions. You can also view the (longer) list of ruptures that have been filtered out by selecting "Filtered Ruptures" from the "Animation Type" drop down box.

The plugin is preloaded with our current default Coulomb parameters, but these can also be changed to see how this affects the filtered junctions/ruptures by modifying the parameters at the bottom of the animation panel.