Creating a 3D Map of Drill Holes Using QGIS

Jeff Oppong


QGIS is an open-source Geographic Information System (GIS) that offers users a robust platform for the management, analysis, and visualization of spatial data, showcasing exceptional versatility and functionality. QGIS is widely recognized for its intuitive user interface and extensive range of functionalities, making it a growing choice among professionals in several disciplines including geography, geology, environmental science, urban planning, and other related professions.

Fundamentally, QGIS provides a comprehensive range of tools and functionalities that enable the manipulation, investigation, and visualization of geographic information. QGIS facilitates the seamless integration and utilization of spatial data from diverse sources by accommodating a range of data formats, including shapefiles, geodatabases, raster formats, and vector formats.

To commence this tutorial, it is imperative to collect the fundamental datasets, including geological information, survey data, and collar details. Geological data commonly encompasses lithological composition and structural characteristics. The survey data encompasses details pertaining to the direction and trajectory of the drill holes, whilst the collar data offers information regarding the spatial coordinates and elevation of the drill holes.

Using QGIS to generate a drill hole map incorporating geology, survey, and collar data can be used to assist in the interpretation and analysis of subsurface information for geoscientists and mining professionals. This visual representation enhances the decision-making processes associated with resource exploration and development. This step-by-step tutorial uses geospatial techniques to map out drillhole data in 3D, making use of the Geoscience and Qgis2threejs plugins in QGIS.

A black and white flow map showing the input data and tools needed to create a 3D drill hole map in ArcGIS Pro.
Figure 1: A summary of the approach and geospatial tools used in displaying 3D drillholes in QGIS.

Importing collars, geology, and surveys data in QGIS 

If you don’t already have QGIS installed on your computer, you can freely access a version of QGIS for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. This tutorial will be using the collars, geology, and survey data from this Google Drive link.

To import the collars, geology, and surveys data:

  1. Open QGIS.
  2. Select Project from the menu bar and select New to create a new project. 
  3. From the Layer tab of the menu bar, select Add Layer.
  4. Select Add Delimited text layer from the Add Layer window since the Excel file is saved in a .csv format. 
  5. From the pop-up window, set File name to the location of the collars data. 
  6. Ensure that “X field” is set to X and “Y field” is set to Y.
  7. Click Add.
Screenshot showing the Deliminated Text interface in QGIS.
Figure 2: Delimited text window in QGIS.
  1. From the Delimited text window, toggle to the location of the “survey data.”
  2. Ensure that “No geometry” is checked from the Geometry definition since the survey data do not contain X and Y coordinates (table).
  3.  Click Add. 
  4. From the Delimited text window, toggle to the location of the “geology data.”
  5. Ensure that “No geometry” is checked from the Geometry definition since the survey data do not contain X and Y coordinates (table).
  6.  Click Add. 

Alternatively, the collars, geology, and surveys files in .csv formats can be dragged and dropped into the Layers panel. 

A screenshot of the Delineated text interface in QGIS.
Figure 3: Selecting “no geometry” for geology data in QGIS.

Installin the geoscience and Qgis2threejs plugin in QGIS

  1. From the Plugins tab on the menu bar, select “Manage and install plugins.”
  2. From the search bar, type and search “qgis2threejs.”
  3. Select install plugin.
  4. Type and search geoscience from the search bar of the Plugins window.
  5. Select install plugin.
Screenshot showing the Geoscience plugin in QGIS being installed.
Figure 4: Installing the geoscience plugin in QGIS.

Alternatively, the Geoscience and Qgis2threejs plugins can be retrieved from the web and uploaded locally onto QGIS. After retrieving the plugins in .zip formats, select “Install from Zip” from the Plugins window to upload, install, and use. 

Creating sections of drillhole data in QGIS using the Geoscience plugin

  1. From the Geoscience tab on the menu bar, select “drilling.”
  2. Select Desurvey holes. 
  3. From the collar window, set collar layer to collars. 
  4. Ensure that Easting is set to X, Northing is set to Y.
  5. Also, ensure that HoleID, Depth, and ElevationZ matches up to their appropriate fields from the collars layer. 
  6. From the Survey window, ensure that the Survey layer, HoleID, Depth, Azimuth, and Dip are set appropriately. 
  7. Select Ok.
Screenshot showing the desurvey hole interface.
Figure 5: “Desurvey hole” in QGIS.
  1. From the Geoscience tab on the menu bar, select “drilling.”
  2. Select Downhole data.
  3.  From the Downhole window, ensure that Desurveyed Hole Layer is set.
  4. From the Downhole data window, ensure that layer, HoleID, From/Depth, To options are set appropriately to their corresponding fields from the geology table file. 
  5. Click Ok. 
Screenshot showing the downhole data window in QGIS.
Figure 6: Downhole data window in QGIS.
  1. Right-click on the results of the downhole data. 
  2. Select properties. 
  3. Select Symbology from the properties window. 
  4. Set “Value” to lithology field.
  5. Click “Classify.”
Screenshot showing the interface for categorizing downhole data into lithology in QGIS.
Figure 7: Categorizing Downhole data in QGIS.

Displaying drillholes in 3D using the Qgis2threejs plugin

To display the drillholes in 3D:

  1. Select the qgis2threejs Exporter icon from the array of icons. 
  2. From the Points window, check collars_3D.
  3. From the line field, check downhole_geology 3D to display the downhole data based on lithology. 
  4. To view the data better, right-click on downhole_geology 3D and select properties. 
  5. From the properties window, set Type to pipe. 
  6. Click Ok. 
Screenshot of a map view in QGIS showing colorful 3D drill hole data.
Figure 8: Using qgis2threejs plugin to map 3D drill hole data in QGIS.
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About the author
Jeff Oppong
Jeff Oppong holds a BSc in Geomatic Engineering and currently a graduate student at Hohai University in China, where he's studying MSc. Harbor, Coastal, and Offshore Engineering. Jeff is a prolific researcher and a GIS/Remote sensing expert who aspires to be a change-agent and a renowned Engineer. Jeff Oppong can be contacted via email

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