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College geoscience departments keep archives of student research ranging from senior theses to master's and Ph.D. dissertations. In field geology, these archives often include maps, cross sections, stereographic projections, field notes and photographs, hand specimens, and thin sections. Subsequent publications may result from the thesis work, but much of this valuable legacy data is difficult to access and assess. Here we describe the conversion of a pre–digital-era thesis on the Vredefort Rim Synclinorium in South Africa from hard copy to digital format using Keyhole Markup Language (KML) to drape maps and inset photographs, and COLLADA (COLLAborative Design Activity) models to create stereographic projections, emergent cross sections, and virtual specimens. In addition to using the Google Earth terrain to fine-tune draped map locations, errors in field locations arising from pace and compass or bearing methods of geo-location that preceded the availability of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were recognized and corrected.

At 2.023 billion years in age and an estimated 300 km in original diameter, the Vredefort Dome is the world's oldest and largest known impact structure. The Vredefort region has been designated a World Heritage Site and specimen collection is prohibited. Only a few geologists are ever likely to visit the region, so geo-referenced field photography, specimens, and structural data are irreplaceable. An interpretative center is being planned for the Vredefort structure by South African authorities and our interactive Google Earth resources will be made available to the visiting public as well as those browsing over the Internet. Thus draped maps and scanned models provide an invaluable opportunity for enhanced instruction, continued research, and public outreach.

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