EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Immersive Virtual Reality for Geo-education: feedback from students, academics and the lay public

Fabio Luca Bonali1, Elena Russo1, Fabio Vitello2, Varvara Antoniou3, Alessandro Tibaldi1, Luca Fallati1, Valentina Bracchi1, Alessandra Savini1, Malcolm Whitworth4, Kyriaki Drymoni1, Federico Pasquaré Mariotto5, Paraskevi Nomikou3, ‬‬‬‬‬‬Eva Sciacca6, Sofia Bressan1, Susanna Falsaperla7, Danilo Reitano7, Benjamin van Wyk de Vries8, Giuliana Panieri9, Mathew Alexander Stiller-Reeve10,11, Ugo Becciani6, and the others*
Fabio Luca Bonali et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milan Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 1-4, 20126 Milan, Italy
  • 2INAF–Istituto di Radioastronomia, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
  • 3Department of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 15784 Athens, Greece
  • 4School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PL01 3QL, UK
  • 5Department of Human and Innovation Sciences, Insubria University, Via S. Abbondio 12, 22100 Como, Italy
  • 6INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Via Santa Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
  • 7Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - Osservatorio Etneo, Piazza Roma 2, 95125 Catania, Italy
  • 8Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, Observatoire du Physique du Globed e Clermont, IRD, UMR6524-CNRS, Université Clermont Auvergne, 63170 Aubière, France
  • 9CAGE, Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate, The Arctic Universiyt of Tromsø, 9019 Tromsø, Norway
  • 10Center for Climate and Energy Transformation, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 11Konsulent Stiller-Reeve, Valestrandsfossen, 5281, Norway
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Field-based classes in geological sciences are crucial components of geoscience education and research. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, such activities became problematic due to limitations such as travel restrictions and lockdown periods: this motivated the geoeducational community to tailor new ways to engage people in field activities. As a result, we adopted Immersive Virtual Reality as a tool to involve students, academics, and the lay public in field exploration, thus making geological exploration accessible also to people affected by permanent or temporary motor disabilities. In particular, we evaluated how users perceive the usefulness of this approach as applied to Earth Science learning and teaching, through nine outreach events, where a total of 459 participants were involved, with different ages and cultural backgrounds. The participants explored, in an immersive mode, four geological landscapes, defined as virtual geological environments, which have been reconstructed by cutting-edge, unmanned aerial system-based photogrammetry techniques. They include: Santorini (Greece), the North Volcanic Zone (Iceland), and Mt. Etna (Italy). After the exploration, each participant filled in an anonymous questionnaire. The results show that the majority would be willing to repeat the experience, and, most importantly, the majority of the students and Earth Science academics who took part in the navigation confirmed the usefulness of this technique for geo-education purposes. Our approach can be considered as a groundbreaking tool and an innovative democratic way to access information and experiences, as well as to promote inclusivity and accessibility in geo-education, while reducing travel costs, saving time, and decreasing the carbon footprint. This work has been carried out in the framework of the following projects: i) ACPR15T4_ 00098 “Agreement between the University of Milan Bicocca and the Cometa Consortium for the experimentation of cutting-edge interactive technologies for the improvement of science teaching and dissemination” of Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (ARGO3D -; ii) Erasmus+ Key Action 2 2017-1-UK01-KA203- 036719 “3DTeLC – Bringing the 3D-world into the classroom: a new approach to Teaching, Learning and Communicating the science of geohazards in terrestrial and marine environments” (;; iii) 2018 EGU Public Engagement Grants (


Fabio Marchese, Noemi Corti, Mel Krokos, Giuseppe Vizzari

How to cite: Bonali, F. L., Russo, E., Vitello, F., Antoniou, V., Tibaldi, A., Fallati, L., Bracchi, V., Savini, A., Whitworth, M., Drymoni, K., Pasquaré Mariotto, F., Nomikou, P., Sciacca, ‬., Bressan, S., Falsaperla, S., Reitano, D., van Wyk de Vries, B., Panieri, G., Stiller-Reeve, M. A., and Becciani, U. and the others: Immersive Virtual Reality for Geo-education: feedback from students, academics and the lay public, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11553,, 2022.