A systematic review and mapping of the literature of virtual reality studies in earth science engineering education
Özcan Özyurt 1 * , Nergiz Ercil Cagiltay 2, Hacer Özyurt 3, Aykut Akgun 4
More Detail
1 Karadeniz Technical University, Of Technology Faculty, Software Engineering Department, Turkey
2 Department of Software Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Atılım University, Turkey
3 Department of Software Engineering, Of Technology Faculty, Karadeniz Technical University, Turkey
4 Karadeniz Technical University, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Geological Engineering, Turkey
* Corresponding Author


Today, earth sciences engineering education programs face with serious problems. It is often not possible to provide experience on different geographical environments or materials. Considering these problems of earth science related engineering education programs, virtual reality environment potentially can provide technology enhanced training alternatives. However, in the literature there are not many studies showing how virtual reality can enhance the earth science related engineering education programs. Accordingly, the aim of this mapping of the literature and systematic review study is to explore studies dealing with virtual reality in the earth sciences engineering education programs. Through a rigorous screening process, the first search in the Scopus database provided 150 studies, where 19 of them were selected in the course of this study and the mapping of the literature report was drawn with all these articles. Additionally, with seven of these articles a systematic review is conducted. The mapping of the literature report shows that studies on this topic have increased in recent years and have been published in a variety of journals. The number of China and USA origins studies are remarkable among the examined studies, which are predominantly in the fields of mining engineering and geological engineering. As a result of the in-depth analyses, the systematic review report indicates that virtual reality applications in the earth sciences engineering education positively contribute to the learning outcomes and experiences of students/trainees from different perspectives. 



  • Beck, J., Rainoldi, M., & Egger, R. (2019). Virtual reality in tourism: a state-of-the-art review. Tourism Review, 74(3), 586-612. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-03-2017-0049
  • *Bilke, L., Fischer, T., Helbig, C., Krawczyk, C., Nagel, T., Naumov, D., ... & Walther, M. (2014). TESSIN VISLab—laboratory for scientific visualization. Environmental Earth Sciences, 72(10), 3881-3899. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-014-3785-5
  • Bracq, M. S., Michinov, E., & Jannin, P. (2019). Virtual reality simulation in nontechnical skills training for healthcare professionals: a systematic review. Simulation in Healthcare, 14(3), 188-194. https://doi.org/10.1097/SIH.0000000000000347
  • Bramer, W. M., Rethlefsen, M. L., Kleijnen, J., & Franco, O. H. (2017). Optimal database combinations for literature searches in systematic reviews: a prospective exploratory study. Systematic Reviews, 6(1), 245. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-017-0644-y
  • Burdea, G. C., & Coiffet, P. (2003). Virtual reality technology (Vol. 1). John Wiley & Sons.
  • *Chen, Z., Liu, L., Qi, X., & Geng, J. (2016). Digital Mining Technology-Based Teaching Mode for Mining Engineering. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 11(10), 47-52. https://doi.org/10.3991/ijet.v11i10.6271
  • Cruz-Benito, J. (2016). Systematic literature review & mapping. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.165773
  • Dascal, J., Reid, M., IsHak, W. W., Spiegel, B., Recacho, J., Rosen, B., & Danovitch, I. (2017). Virtual reality and medical inpatients: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(1-2), 14-21.
  • Gallagher, A. G., & Cates, C. U. (2004). Virtual reality training for the operating room and cardiac catheterisation laboratory. The Lancet, 364(9444), 1538-1540. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17278-4
  • **Grabowski, A., & Jankowski, J. (2015). Virtual reality-based pilot training for underground coal miners. Safety Science, 72, 310-314. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2014.09.017
  • Guttentag, D. A. (2010). Virtual reality: Applications and implications for tourism. Tourism Management, 31(5), 637–651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2009.07.003
  • *Halik, Ł., & Smaczyński, M. (2018). Geovisualisation of relief in a virtual reality system on the basis of low-level aerial imagery. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 175(9), 3209-3221. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-017-1755-z
  • *Havenith, H. B., Cerfontaine, P., & Mreyen, A. S. (2019). How virtual reality can help visualise and assess geohazards. International Journal of Digital Earth, 12(2), 173-189. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538947.2017.1365960
  • Heim, M. (1998). Virtual realism. Oxford University Press.
  • Helbig, C., Bauer, H. S., Rink, K., Wulfmeyer, V., Frank, M., & Kolditz, O. (2014). Concept and workflow for 3D visualization of atmospheric data in a virtual reality environment for analytical approaches. Environmental Earth Sciences, 72(10), 3767-3780. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-014-3136-6
  • *Huang, W., & Chen, J. (2019). A multi-scale VR navigation method for VR globes. International Journal of Digital Earth, 12(2), 228-249. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538947.2018.1426646
  • **Isleyen, E., & Duzgun, H. S. (2019). Use of virtual reality in underground roof fall hazard assessment and risk mitigation. International Journal of Mining Science and Technology, 29(4), 603-607. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmst.2019.06.003
  • Jones, R. R., McCaffrey, K. J. W., Clegg, P., Wilson, R. W., Holliman, N. S., Holdsworth, R. E., ... & Waggott, S. (2009). Integration of regional to outcrop digital data: 3D visualisation of multi-scale geological models. Computers & Geosciences, 35(1), 4-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2007.09.007
  • *Kellogg, L. H., Bawden, G. W., Bernardin, T., Billen, M., Cowgill, E., Hamann, B., ... & Sumner, D. (2008). Interactive visualization to advance earthquake simulation. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 165(3-4), 621-633. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-008-0317-9
  • **Klippel, A., Zhao, J., Jackson, K. L., La Femina, P., Stubbs, C., Wetzel, R., ... & Oprean, D. (2019). Transforming Earth Science Education Through Immersive Experiences: Delivering on a Long Held Promise. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 57(7), 1745-1771. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0735633119854025
  • Kwon, Y., Lemieux, M., McTavish, J., & Wathen, N. (2015). Identifying and removing duplicate records from systematic review searches. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 103(4), 184-188. https://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.103.4.004
  • Li, L., Yu, F., Shi, D., Shi, J., Tian, Z., Yang, J., Wang, X., & Jiang, Q. (2017). Application of virtual reality technology in clinical medicine. American Journal of Translational Research, 9(9), 3867-3880.
  • Lin, H., Batty, M., Jørgensen, S. E., Fu, B., Konecny, M., Voinov, A., . . . Chen, M. (2015). Virtual environments begin to embrace process-based geographic analysis. Transactions in GIS, 19(4), 493–498. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tgis.12167
  • **Lütjens, M., Kersten, T. P., Dorschel, B., & Tschirschwitz, F. (2019). Virtual Reality in Cartography: Immersive 3D Visualization of the Arctic Clyde Inlet (Canada) Using Digital Elevation Models and Bathymetric Data. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 3(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/mti301000
  • Malloy, K. M., & Milling, L. S. (2010). The effectiveness of virtual reality distraction for pain reduction: a systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(8), 1011-1018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.07.001
  • Martín-Gutiérrez, J., Mora, C. E., Añorbe-Díaz, B., & González-Marrero, A. (2017). Virtual technologies trends in education. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics Science and Technology Education, 13(2), 469-486. https://doi.org/10.12973/eurasia.2017.00626a
  • Mikropoulos, T. A., & Natsis, A. (2011). Educational virtual environments: A ten-year review of empirical research (1999–2009). Computers & Education, 56(3), 769-780. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.020
  • *Mitra, R., & Saydam, S. (2013). Using virtual reality in tertiary education. International Journal of technologies in Learning, 19(4), 97-112.
  • *Mitra, R., & Saydam, S. (2014). Can artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic be integrated into virtual reality applications in mining?. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 114(12), 1009-1016.
  • Moglia, A., Ferrari, V., Morelli, L., Ferrari, M., Mosca, F., & Cuschieri, A. (2016). A systematic review of virtual reality simulators for robot-assisted surgery. European Urology, 69(6), 1065-1080. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2015.09.021
  • Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, & The PRISMA Group (2009) Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Medicine, 6(7), e1000097. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097
  • **Nickel, C., Knight, C., Langille, A., & Godwin, A. (2019). How Much Practice Is Required to Reduce Performance Variability in a Virtual Reality Mining Simulator?. Safety, 5(2), 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/safety5020018
  • Palter, V. N., & Grantcharov, T. P. (2010). Virtual reality in surgical skills training. Surgical Clinics, 90(3), 605-617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.suc.2010.02.005
  • Reznek, M., Harter, P., & Krummel, T. (2002). Virtual reality and simulation: training the future emergency physician. Academic Emergency Medicine, 9(1), 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1197/aemj.9.1.78
  • *Rink, K., Bilke, L., & Kolditz, O. (2014). Visualisation strategies for environmental modelling data. Environmental Earth Sciences, 72(10), 3857-3868. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-013-2970-2
  • Rizzo, A, Hartholt A, Grimani M, Leeds, A., & Liewer, M. (2014) Virtual reality exposure therapy for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Computer 47(7), 31–37. https://doi.org/10.1109/MC.2014.199
  • Romañach, S. S., McKelvy, M., Suir, K., & Conzelmann, C. (2015). EverVIEW: A visualization platform for hydrologic and Earth science gridded data. Computers & Geosciences, 76, 88-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2014.12.004
  • Rowley, J., & Slack, F. (2004). Conducting a literature review. Management Research News, 27(6), 31-39.
  • Scopus. (2020). Content coverage guide. https://www.elsevier.com/?a=69451.
  • Seuring, S., & Müller, M. (2008). From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply chain management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 16(15), 1699-1710.
  • Steuer, J. (1992). Defining virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence. Journal of Communication, 42(4), 73-93. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00812.x
  • Stone, R. J. (1991). Virtual reality and cyberspace: from science fiction to science fact. Information Services & Use, 11(5-6), 283-300. https://doi.org/10.3233/ISU-1991-115-603
  • **Stothard, P., & Laurence, D. (2014). Application of a large-screen immersive visualisation system to demonstrate sustainable mining practices principles. Mining Technology, 123(4), 199-206. https://doi.org/10.1179/1743286314Y.0000000068
  • Vergara, D., Rubio, M., & Lorenzo, M. (2017). On the design of virtual reality learning environments in engineering. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 1(2), 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/mti1020011
  • *Wang, X., Guo, C., Yuen, D. A., & Luo, G. (2020). GeoVReality: A computational interactive virtual reality visualization framework and workflow for geophysical research. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 298, 106312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pepi.2019.106312
  • Yang, E. C. L., Khoo-Lattimore, C., & Arcodia, C. (2017). A systematic literature review of risk and gender research in tourism. Tourism Management, 58, 89-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2016.10.011
  • *Yang, Z., & Wang, Y. (2019). Analysis of the rock stratum in a mining area in China with virtual reality technology. Geotechnical Research, 6(4), 288-293. https://doi.org/10.1680/jgere.19.00014
  • Yang, L., Hyde, D., Grujic, O., Scheidt, C., & Caers, J. (2019). Assessing and visualizing uncertainty of 3D geological surfaces using level sets with stochastic motion. Computers & Geosciences, 122, 54-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2018.10.006
  • Yung, R., & Khoo-Lattimore, C. (2019). New realities: a systematic literature review on virtual reality and augmented reality in tourism research. Current Issues in Tourism, 22(17), 2056-2081. https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2017.1417359
  • **Zhang, H. (2017). Head-mounted display-based intuitive virtual reality training system for the mining industry. International Journal of Mining Science and Technology, 27(4), 717-722. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmst.2017.05.005
  • *Zhao, J., Wallgrün, J. O., LaFemina, P. C., Normandeau, J., & Klippel, A. (2019). Harnessing the power of immersive virtual reality-visualization and analysis of 3D earth science data sets. Geo-spatial Information Science, 22(4), 237-250. https://doi.org/10.1080/10095020.2019.1621544


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.