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#f03c15 Important information: Mark Jessell is currently cleaning the Noddy core library in order to adjust our code to a more permissive license - more information, soon!


What is pynoddy

pynoddy is a python package to write, change, and analyse kinematic geological modelling simulations. It provides methods to define, load, modify, and safe kinematic models for simulation with Noddy. In addition, the package contains an extensive range for postprocessing of results. One main aspect of pynoddy is that it enables the encapsulation of full scientific kinematic modelling experiments for full reproducibility of results.

What is Noddy?

Noddy itself is a kinematic modelling program written by Mark Jessell [1][2] to simulate the effect of subsequent geological events (folding, unconformities, faulting, etc.) on a primary sedimentary pile. A typical example would be:

  1. Create a sedimentary pile with defined thicknesses for multiple formations
  2. Add a folding event (for example simple sinoidal folding, but complex methods are possible!)
  3. Add an unconformity and, above it, a new stratigraphy
  4. Finally, add a sequence of late faults affecting the entire system.

The result could look something like this:

pynoddy blender visualization

Noddy has been used to generate models for teaching and interpretation purposes, but also for scientific studies (e.g. [3]).


Installation of the pynoddy package

A successful installation of pynoddy requires two steps:

  1. An installation of the python modules in the package pynoddy
  2. The existance of an executable Noddy(.exe) program

Installation of the first part is straight-forward:

For the best (and most complete) installation, we suggest to clone the pynoddy repository on:

To install pynoddy simply run:

python install

.. Note:

sufficient privileges are required (i.e. run in sudo with MacOSX/ Linux and set permissions on Windows)

The pynoddy packages themselves can also be installed directly from the Python Package Index ( via pip:

pip install pynoddy

A Windows installer is also available on the Pypi page:

Installation of Noddy

Noddy is a command line program, written in C, that performs the kinematic simulation itself. The program compilation is platform dependent, and therefore several ways for installation are possible (see below information for specific platforms).

Using a pre-compiled version of Noddy

The easy way to obtain a executable version of Noddy is simply to download the appropriate version for your operating system. Currently, these executables versions are also stored on github (check the up-to-date online documentation if this should not anymore be the case) in the directory:

Furthermore, the executables for Windows are also available for download on the webpage:

Download the appropriate app, rename it to noddy or noddy.exe and place it into a folder that is in your local environment path variable. If you are not sure if a folder is in the PATH or would like to add new one, see below for more information.

Compiling Noddy from source files (recommended installation)

The source code for the executable Noddy is located in the repository directory noddy. In order to perform the installation, a gcc compiler is required. This compiler should be available on Linux and MacOSX operating systems. On Windows, one possibility is to install MinGW. Otherwise, the code requires no specific libraries.

Note for MacOSX users: some header files have to be adapted to avoid conflicts with local libraries. The required adaptations are executed when running the script:


The compilation is then performed (in a Linux, MacOSX, or Windows MinGW terminal) with the command:


Compilation usually produces multiple warnings, but should otherwise proceed successfully.

Placing the executable noddy in the Path

For the most general installation, the executable of Noddy should be placed in a folder that can be located from any terminal application in the system. This (usually) means that the folder with the executable has to be in the PATH environment variable. On Linux and MacOSX, a path can simply be added by:

> export PATH="path/to/executable/:\$PATH"

Note that this command should be placed into your .bash_profile file to ensure that the path is added whenever you start a new Python script.

On windows, adding a folder to the local environment variable Path is usually done through the System Control Panel (Start - Settings - Control Panel - System). in Advanced mode, open the Environment Variables sub-menu, and find the variable Path. Click to edit the variable, and add the location of your folder to this path.

Noddy executable and GUI for Windows

The original graphical user interface for Noddy and the compiled executable program for Windows can be obtained from:

This site also contains the source code, as well as extensive documentation and tutorial material concerning the original implementation of the software, as well as more technical details on the modelling method itself.

Testing the installation

Testing noddy

Simply test the installation by running the generated (or downloaded) executable in a terminal window (on Windows: cmd):

> noddy

or (depending on your compilation or naming convention):

> noddy.exe

Which should produce the general output:

Arguments <historyfile> <outputfile> <calc_mode>:

Note: if the executable is correctly placed in a folder which is recognised by the (Environment) path variable, then you should be able to run Noddy from any directory. If this is not the case, please check if it is correctly placed in the path (see above).

Testing pynoddy

The pynoddy package contains a set of tests which can be executed in the standard Python testing environment. If you cloned or downloaded the repository, then these tests can directly be performed through the setup script:

> python test

Of specific relevance is the test that determines if the noddy(.exe) executable is correctly accessible from pynoddy. If this is the case, then the compute_model test should return:

test_compute_model (test.TestHistory) ... ok}

If this test is not ok, then please check carefully the installation of the noddy(.exe) executable.

If all tests are successful, you are ready to go!

How to get started

Tutorial Jupyter notebooks

The best way to get started with pynoddy is to have a look at the IPython notebooks in pynoddy/docs/notebooks. The numbered notebooks are those that are part of the documentation, and a good point to get started.

The notebooks require an installed Jupyter notebook. More information here:

The notebook can be installed via pip or conda.

The Atlas of Strutural Geophysics

The Atlas of Structural Geophysics contains a collection of structural models, together with their expression as geophysical potential fields (gravity and magnetics), with a focus on guiding the interpretation of observed features in potential-field maps.

The atlas is currently available on:

The structural models are created with Noddy and the history files can be downloaded from the atlas. Models from this Atlas can directly be loaded with pynoddy. See example notebooks and documentation for more details.


An updated version of the documentation is available within the pynoddy repository (pynoddy/docs).

In addition, an online html version of the documentation is also hosted on readthedocs:

Technical Notes


pynoddy depends on several standard Python packages that should be shipped with any standard distribution (and are easy to install, otherwise):

  • numpy
  • matplotlib
  • pickle

The uncertainty analysis, quantification, and visualisation methods based on information theory are implemented in the python package pygeoinfo. This package is available on github and part of the python package index. It is automatically installed with the setup script provided with this package.

In addition, to export model results for full 3-D visualisation with VTK, the pyevtk package is used, available on bitbucket:

The package is automatically downloaded and installed when running python install.

3-D Visualisation

At this stage, we do not supply methods for 3-D visualisation in python (although this may change in the future). However, we provide methods to export results into a VTK format. Exported files can then be viewed with the highly functional VTK viewers, and several free options are available, for example:


pynoddy is free software (see license file included in the repository). Please attribute the work when you use it and cite the publication if you use it in a scientific context - feel free to change and adapt it otherwise!


[1] Mark W. Jessell. Noddy, an interactive map creation package. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of London. 1981.

[2] Mark W. Jessell, Rick K. Valenta, Structural geophysics: Integrated structural and geophysical modelling, In: Declan G. De Paor, Editor(s), Computer Methods in the Geosciences, Pergamon, 1996, Volume 15, Pages 303-324, ISSN 1874-561X, ISBN 9780080424309,

[3] Armit, R. J., Betts, P. G., Schaefer, B. F., & Ailleres, L. (2012). Constraints on long-lived Mesoproterozoic and Palaeozoic deformational events and crustal architecture in the northern Mount Painter Province, Australia. Gondwana Research, 22(1), 207–226.


pynoddy is a python package to write, change, and analyse kinematic geological modelling simulations performed with Noddy.








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