New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Developing Accessible Visualizations of Geophysical and Geochemical Processes for Cave and Karst Education.

Raquel Lugo1, Devra Heyer1, Daniel S. Jones2 and Valerie Davis1

1National Cave and Karst Research Institute, Carlsbad, NM, 88220,
2Earth and Environmental Science Department, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 87801

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The National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) is a research institute of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology that was created by the US Congress in 1998 in partnership with the National Park Service, the State of New Mexico, and the City of Carlsbad. Part of the mission of NCKRI is to promote public education by acting as a nexus for education and outreach projects between various entities, providing resources to educators and academic institutions, and having multiple ways in which to interact with the public. NCKRI’s educational endeavors include social media posts, learning module systems and a website. Through these platforms, an ongoing project of NCKRI is the development of accessible visuals on cave and karst science. Visuals are an effective tool for delivering scientific information, and are used in a variety of different scientific contexts such as on research papers, poster and oral presentations, and textbooks. According to Mayer and Anderson (1991), students learn topics best when text or verbal information is presented along with a visual, as opposed to only text/verbal information or only visual information. As a result, visual information can be a powerful supplement in text or verbal communication and aids in the comprehension of complex or abstract ideas. Visuals can be any graphics such as diagrams, pictures or animations. For earth sciences, envisioning information in a variety of forms is beneficial. Animations are specifically helpful in explaining geophysical processes because of its ability to emphasize attributes and their dimensions, temporal changes and even spatial changes. Geophysical and geochemical processes such as how speleothems form, speleogenesis of caves, and development of karst landscapes can be shown through animated diagrams and videos. Using these principles, NCKRI is currently creating diagrams to explain geophysical and geochemical processes for cave and karst public education. These diagrams are converted into Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) that can be shared through the platform GIPHY, via text messages and stories on social media. They are also turned into one minute animations with verbal descriptive information to be shared as a Youtube Short and Instagram Reel. The purpose of this project is to promote cave and karst education by providing accurate and targeted information to a wider audience.


  1. David DiBiase , Alan M. MacEachren , John B. Krygier & Catherine Reeves (1992) Animation and the Role of Map Design in Scientific Visualization, Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, 19:4, 201-214
  2. Mayer, Richard & Anderson, Richard. (1991). Animations Need Narrations: An Experimental Test of a Dual-Coding Hypothesis. Journal of Educational Psychology. 83. 484-490. 10.1037/0022-0663.83.4.484.
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2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800