The study of karst and its geomorphological structures is important for understanding the relationships between hydrology and climate over geological time. In that context, we conducted a terrestrial laser-scan survey to map geomorphological structures in the karst cave of Algar do Penico in southern Portugal. The point cloud data set obtained was used to generate 3D meshes with different levels of detail, allowing the limitations of mapping capabilities to be explored.

In addition to cave mapping, the study focuses on 3D-mesh analysis, including the development of two algorithms for determination of stalactite extremities and contour lines, and on the interactive visualization of 3D meshes on the Web. Data processing and analysis were performed using freely available open-source software. For interactive visualization, we adopted a framework based on Web standards X3D, WebGL, and X3DOM. This solution gives both the general public and researchers access to 3D models and to additional data produced from map tools analyses through a web browser, without the need for plug-ins.