Academy Users Report
Geo-Environmental Engineering Laboratory,
Department of Civil, Environmental
and Applied System Engineering,
Faculty of Environmental and Urban Engineering, Kansai University

Developing Various Studies with Main Focus on Rock Slope, Paying Attention to Use of 3D VR from an Early Stage
Engineering Approach to Regional Revitalization Using Groundwater, Introducing UC-win/Road for its Visualization

Geo-Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Department of Civil, Environmental and Applied System Engineering, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Engineering, Kansai University
URL http://wps.itc.kansai-u.ac.jp/geo-env/staff/
Location: Suita city, Osaka
Research and development contents: Study on rock slopes, groundwater, detection of cracks on tunnel wall surface

"In Japan, when it comes to (research on) bedrock, it means topics related to civil engineering (in many cases). However, in the world, especially in the U.S.A, it (one of the issues that attract attention in research on bedrock in recent years) is how to visualize underground. This is petroleum (which reflects the needs for resource development that increase more and more).

For 2 months from June to July in 2017, Prof. Harushige Kusumi, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering and board member of the University, Department of Civil, Environmental and Applied System Engineering, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Engineering, Kansai University stayed at National Laboratory for Civil Engineering (LNEC) of Portugal. The headquarters of International Society for Rock Mechanics:ISRM, to which he belongs, is situated there. Since information related to rock mechanics gathers from all over the world there, he looked for the recent trend in the field to fill the blank of the period when he was away from research activities in his specialty field while he was serving as President of Kansai University for 7 years.

As part of what he recognized through them, he mentioned the present situation that as mining of limited petroleum resource proceeds, needs for efficient exploration of the sites for oil field development are more and more advanced. At the same time, effective visualization of underground (ground environment) by three-dimensional (3D) VR for assisting resource exploration is expected. The annual conference of Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and exhibition held with it also suggest the trend of competing diverse technologies of visualization, according to him.

In conducting research on rock mechanics including rock slope, groundwater, and tunnel, Prof. Kusumi started to pay attention to CG and 3D VR for utilizing them from early on. In the spring last year, when Kansai University got involved in an attempt to use abundant groundwater for regional revitalization in Ono-shi, Fukui, he drew up a plan to utilize VR technology as a tool to complement his own engineering approach. Then he introduced FORUM8's 3D real-time VR "UC-win/Road".

 For 130 Years in Osaka as its Base, Kansai Univ. Aims at Hub Function for New Research

Kansai University was established as Kansai Law School in Nishi-ku, Osaka. Since then, it boasts of its tradition over 130 years. Meanwhile, it was reorganized and changed its name as Kansai University in 1905. Following the promulgation of University Ordinance in 1918, it started to build up proper structure for promotion, getting authorized as a university under the prewar education system in 1922.

"Since Osaka Imperial University had not been established yet at that time, it was the first university to be established in Osaka."

As the university received substantial support from business circles in Osaka, feeling of "being raised up in and by Osaka" has been strongly aroused within the university, says Prof. Kusumi.

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Center for Innovation and Creativity, Kansai University Ceremony for the completion of Center for Innovation and Creativity
Harushige Kusumi, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Geo-Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Department of Civil, Environmental and Applied System Engineering, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Engineering, Kansai University

Kansai University is composed of 13 faculties including Law, Letters, Economics, Business and Commerce, Sociology, Policy Studies, Foreign Language Studies, Health and Well-being, Informatics, Societal Safety Sciences, Engineering Science, Environmental and Urban Engineering, and Chemistry, Materials, and Bioengineering; and 16 graduate schools including Law, Letters, Economics, Business and Commerce, Sociology, Informatics, Science and Engineering, Foreign Language Education and Research, Psychology, Societal Safety Sciences, East Asian Cultures, Governance, Health and Well-being, School of Law, School of Accountancy, and Graduate School of Professional Clinical Psychology. Over 30,000 students are studying in total in both undergraduate faculties and graduate schools with 740 full-time teachers (as of May 2017 for both). The university has 4 campuses in Senriyama, Takatsuki, Takatsuki Muse, and Sakai, and other multiple educational and activity bases.

Prof. Kusumi took a position as the President of Kansai University in October 2009. His term continued for 7 years by September 2016 (for 2 periods). Since the final year (2016) was the 130th anniversary of the Univ., the following centers were established as its commemorative projects: 1) “Center for Innovation and Creativity”, a collaborative and joint research base for faculty members, students, companies, and research institutes across the boundary between arts/humanities and science courses, 2) “Research Center for Naniwa-Osaka Studies”, which constitutes a hub for regional studies mainly on Osaka. In particular, the latter was started with willingness to study culture of Osaka, which has contributed to the development of the University.

 Major Three Fields Studied by the Lab

"Geo-Environmental Engineering Laboratory", which Prof. Kusumi teaches saying, "Its main focus is (studies on) rock slope", does research with three major fields of 1) rock slope, 2) groundwater, and 3) detection of cracks on tunnel wall surface. During the period of 7 years when he was serving as the President, several specially-appointed professors supported the lab on his behalf. For a year and half after he came back, the lab has been doing research with main focus on research on detection of cracks on tunnel wall surface using AI (artificial intelligence) and that on groundwater in Ono-shi, Fukui, stated later. Currently, 2 graduate students and 6 undergraduate students belong to the lab. At least 1 PC (personal computer) is secured for 1 undergraduate student, and 2 or 3 for 1 graduate student for using various software programs including numerical simulation and data processing of field surveys.

One of the issues that attract his attention regarding rock slope is slope stability construction method in consideration of landscape. While a common slope face with mortar spraying does not consider landscape so much, this aims at slope stability, for example, without cutting down trees on the natural slope as much as possible. To establish a retaining wall construction method that has no adverse effects on landscape (including environment) by leaving trees as they grow, though the degree of slope stability becomes lower than that realized by the mortal spraying method, and yet prevents serious slope failure, laboratory experiments and field studies have been continued.


In addition, according to the Road Law revised following the ceiling board collapse accident of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway (2012), and road facilities such as tunnels and bridges are required to have regular inspection once in 5 years. However, there are a huge number of those types of facilities across the nation. Moreover, there are some constraints on conducting inspection, for example, with hammering inspection; therefore, actually operations are not keeping up with the needs. Thus, in order to detect cracks on the tunnel wall surface accurately and quickly, he and others devised a method of shooting the entire tunnel wall surface in succession with high-definition photos and utilizing “Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), a type of machine learning of AI for image processing of the photos. They are proceeding research to establish a highly accurate detection method without discrepancies.”

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Furthermore, regarding groundwater, they have been focusing on Kyoto Basin for nearly 30 years. They examine proper maintenance methods so that this abundant groundwater can be utilized permanently without exterminating it, and conduct seepage analysis and advection diffusion analysis to solve various problems of groundwater.

In such processes, in 2002, when a TV program of NHK picked up traditional ways of utilizing groundwater in Kyoto, he reproduced the situation of underground of Kyoto Basin with 3D CG as a method to convey part of engineering research results of Prof. Kusumi in a way easy to understand. At the same time, he mentioned the fact that about 21.1 billion tons of the amount of groundwater reserves of Kyoto Basin can be compared with that of Lake Biwa, which is considered about 27.5 tons. That program suddenly made the huge-scale water resource lying underground of Kyoto (which he calls "the Kyoto Suibon (Kyoto Water Basin)") an object of attention.

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3D structure model of the Kyoto Suibon (Kyoto Water Basin:
large amount of water reserve under the ground of Kyoto Basin)

 Doing Research on Groundwater in Ono-shi, Utilizing UC-win/Road for Integrated Visualization of Above and Under the Ground

A point of contact between Prof. Kusumi and UC-win/Road dates back to about 5 years ago. When he was serving as the President of the Univ., in considering measures to revitalize towns in Osaka for a long time, he developed his idea that though Osaka had been called "City of Water" since long ago, landscape in the surrounding areas of the Dojima River, Nakanoshima, and the Okawa River had been spoiled by crossing with the overpasses of Hanshin Expressway etc. When he had a chance to talk with Professor Shigenori Tanaka, Faculty of Informatics of the Univ., he expressed his thought. Then Prof. Tanaka united his own research with Prof. Kusumi's idea. As a result, a VR simulating the landscape of the concerned area was created using UC-win/Road.

In April 2017, a research activity started in which Kansai Univ. cooperates with regional revitalization of Ono-shi, Fukui. As part of this, Prof. Kusumi took responsibility of engineering approach for utilization of groundwater. He took this opportunity to prepare a plan that contains introduction of UC-win/Road based on his success experience in VR in the past.

With urban areas that spread over the basin preserving the appearance of the old castle town, Ono-shi has a similar characteristic to Kyoto, both of which have been utilizing abundant groundwater in daily life to the full since long ago. Reacting to the city's intention to emphasize the groundwater to revitalization of the region, 4 researchers and faculty members of Kansai Univ., who study town revitalization with different specialty from each other, joined the project. Regarding the groundwater of the city that was the basis for a series of activities, first, Prof. Kusumi decided to quantify the amount of groundwater reserves of the basin, water balance, and situation of utilization of water. Second, he targeted visualization of their results in a way easy to understand using 3D VR.

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Groundwater research of Ono-shi, Fukui prefecture

Literally hidden under the ground, the groundwater cannot be seen so often usually. Thus, Prof. Kusumi formulated the following plan. The data is created with VR included the ground surface of the actual region, reflecting multiple places of springs within the urban areas and the concerned areas centering on Ono castle. At the same time, VR of the underground is also created reflecting the geological constitution, places of the groundwater reserves and their conditions. Then these VR of above and under the ground are matched so that relationship between the geological constitution and springs etc. can be correctly represented and connected to integrate them as a whole and visualize them.

In doing so, UC-win/Road is basically capable of representing both above and under the ground with 3D VR. "However, at present it is impossible to treat the underground (creation of VR that reflects geological elements) with only UC-win/Road". Therefore, he prepares a 3D geological analysis software program separately.

On the other hand, although related materials and data such as boring logs owned by municipalities are utilized, data necessary for correctly grasping the whole aspect of aquifers and bedrocks is considerably lacking. Regarding this, he and others are supposed to complement by obtaining data by themselves. They are planning to work in order to improve the 3D geological constitution, the whole aspect of aquifers, the amount of groundwater reserve, water balance etc. into more accurate ones.

"(In building up a platform for examining regional revitalization) since anything can be planned on the assumption of estimations, it is important to have correct input data (to avoid such a situation)."

Use cases of UC-win/Road

Click to enlarge the image. Click to enlarge the image. Proposal of a plan for taking Hanshin Expressway underground and improving urban fascination using VR
Present condition where an overpass and bridge piers block the view, and the image of developing a water space by moving them underground in contrast
Click to enlarge the image. Click to enlarge the image. VR of creating future landscape of the surrounding areas of Tenjinbashi
Future landscape with a Ferris wheel installed in Kensaki area for creating bustle in Nakanoshima, and an image of enjoying illuminated night view from the Ferris wheel
(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
(Up&Coming '18 Spring issue)