Visualizations with MATLAB
MATLAB is a powerful tool for providing students capacity to visualize data from a wide variety of sources and understanding complex systems and for representing complex data. Students can visualize and manipulate data to SEE how the data behave. Students can also visualizing how to model fundamental Earth Science formulas, such as heat flow through oceanic lithosphere. In addition to the overarching benefits of MATLAB, MATLAB lends itself to this type of exploration and visualization through:
- Very flexible and easily customized
- Tuned for scientific data – raster and vector
- Capable of displaying in a map
The MathWorks, MATLAB Plot Gallery provides examples of many of the ways data can be represented visually in the program.
Approaches to Getting Students Started
When providing pre-written code to students, they can get started right away with visualizing data. A scaffolded lab can provide students with the very basic skills needed to manipulate and explore the data (see the activity examples below).
- Students can model responses of different scenarios (for example how a gravity anomaly of a sphere changes with depth to center of the sphere); they can compare such models to real data
- MATLAB allows students to quickly produce profiles and scatterplots of collected data, overlay datapoints on drone/satellite/google images, grid data and plot the resulting maps as contours or shaded relief maps
- Students can integrate visualization of their own data with simple models, and play with parameters to obtain match. This can be very powerful to understand which parameters may have the biggest effect on the model.
- MATLAB GUI and stand-alone runtime approaches can be used for students to work with models without having to know MATLAB. This first step can also get students curious about programming.
- Join the Teaching with MATLAB in the Sciences Community to discuss ideas and get expert answers.
- Visualizing outcrop patterns from strike/dip data using MATLAB, Charly Bank. Students explore strike-dip outcrop patterns on a map and in 3D.
- Thermal Evolution of the Oceanic Lithosphere, Mark Behn. Using the Mapping Toolbox, students can manipulate and visualize the half-space cooling model.
- Seismic refraction in MATLAB, Jackie Caplan-Auerbach. By utilizing MATLAB functions students can easily change subsurface parameters and immediately see the effect on travel time curves.
- Visualizing the time-dependence of the Earth's magnetic field, Frederik Simons. MATLAB is used to visualize the International Geomagnetic Reference Field.
- Working with scientific data sets in MATLAB: An Exploration of Ocean Color and Sea Surface Temperature, Andrew Fischer. Students will be introduced to the concepts of remote sensing, ocean color and using Matlab to import and manipulate and visualize scientific datasets.
- Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations
- Teaching with Models
- Visualization Tips for Geoscientists: MATLAB (Blog)
- Image processing in MATLAB: tips for Geoscientists (Blog)
- Analyzing and Visualizing Flows in Rivers and Lakes with MATLAB (about the development of Velocity Mapping Toolbox, USGS)
- Analyzing and Visualizing Data with MATLAB from MathWorks