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Terrain hydraulic erosion simulation in WebGl

Based on


note : click button "start generation" to the right top corner to start erosion sim, the simulation will happen in realtime, take approximately 8-10 seconds on a GTX 1070

Some other results

  • smaller streams running down from cliffs natrually forming larger rivers.

  • Multiple terrain biome type support:

  • Desert:

  • Volcanic:

  • Comparison:

  • Before :

  • After :

  • Some Randomrized terrain :

Base terrain generation:

  • I referenced polygonal terrain in this part, the initial terrain was generated using a voroni polygon map, which was then applied with FBM and domain warping, but I didn't actually implement the adjacent graph structure from the article, because the initial idea was to generate river using adjacent graph, however after finishing erosion sim, I realized the river generation is automatically done in erosion process, thus save me from building an expensive datastructure on CPU which would potentially slow the process down (overhead caused by infomation communication between CPU and GPU)


In short, erosion sim is mainly based on Shallow water equation which is just the depth integration form of the famous viscous fluid equation Navier–Stokes equations, the major algorithm are based on paper Fast Hydraulic Erosion Simulation and Visualization on GPU (erosion)

  • Main theory : following are some steps need to be followed sequentially according to the paper.

    • Increament water level : New water appears on the terrain due to two major effects: rainfall and river sources. For both types, we need tospecify the location, the radius and the water intensity (the amount of water arriving during ∆t). For river sources, the location of the sources is fixed, for rain fall, all pixel have to be increment with water, the addition is simply : d1(x,y) = dt(x,y) + deltaTime*rt(x,y) where rt(x,y) is the water arriving x,y per deltaTime.

    • Flow simulation :

      • Outflow flux computation : as shown in the graph above, we need the in flow flux and out flow flux to compute overall volume change in current cell, as for flux, we need to calculate it through the height variation. the value of a flux in left direction, for example, can be calculated as where height difference delta hL(x,y) can be calculated using where K is a scaling factor to ensure the volume change doesn't exceed the current water height

      • Water surface and velocity update: water height is basically the change of water volume, which can be calculated with deltaTimes*(fin-fout)/(cellsizeX*cellsizeY) as for the velocity, the paper also gives:

    • Erosion and Deposition : first thing in this step is to aquire the sediment capacity for current water volume, which is simply , which is multiplication of terrain slope, capacity constant Kc and length of the current velocity second thing is to compare the current sediment with the capacity, if sediment > capacity, deposite some amount to current cell (Kd) else erode some from the current cell (Ks)

    • Sediment transportation : semi-lagrangian method (back track in short) is applied to this step, the formula is , bilinear interpolation need to be applied to achieve better results.

    • Evaporation: a quite straight forward step, water will be evaporated with the increase of simulation time, and the rate of evaporation will gradually slow down as well.

  • Simulation structure entire simulation is achieved using a series of ping pong texture pairs each mapping to a spedific stage in the simulation process ,following are the texture pairs I used :

    • read_terrain_tex and write_terrain_tex : including terrain water information, corresponding to d and b in above graph :
      • R chanel : terrain height
      • G chanel : water height
    • read_flux_tex and write_flux_tex : flux information in each cell, correspond to right half of above graph:
      • R chanel : flux toward up direction in current cell (fT)
      • G chanel : flux toward right direction in current cell (fR)
      • B chanel : flux toward bottom direction in current cell (fB)
      • A chanel : flux toward left direction in current cell (fL)
    • read_vel_tex and write_vel_tex : velocity map, simply used two chanels for velocity specification
    • read_sediment_tex and write_sediment_tex : sediment map, record the transporation and deposition of sediments, only one chanel is occupied for now
  • Implementation using the above textures, I put all of the major computation in shader to be excuted by GPU, each time the frame buffer will have specific color attachment for writing texture, and also shader will have uniform locations as read texture, after each time I write to a texture, I will swap the two textures inside the pair the written texture belongs to, in general, the texture flow are :

    • Increament water level : hight map -----> hight map
    • Flux map computation : hight map -----> flux map
    • Water volume change and velocity field update : hight map + flux map -----> velocity map + hight map
    • Deposite and erosion step, extra normal map is exported as well to save future calculation : hight map + velocity map + sediment map -----> sediment map + hight map + terrain normal map
    • Lagrangian advection step : velocity map + sediment map -----> sediment map
    • Water evaporation step : terrain map -----> terrain map

Some disadvantages and future works:

  • First and foremost, the major limitation of grid based fluid simulation is that the conservation of mass is not easy to accomplish. If only a primitive grid based algorithm is used, it can lead to ravines only or mostly extending along the grid axes, I've tried my best to eliminate this artifact, but they are still somewhat noticable, this is also the reason why parameters for this project are so hard to adjust.
  • However, this drawback does not exsit in particle based method since the simulated fluid is represented by particles which store their position, velocity and sometimes their mass, therefore, one future goal for this project is to use particle method instead.
  • Plus, I found this paper quite interesting, the author was using particle based method, and seems having some good results:Implementation of a particle based method for hydraulic erosion
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