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We address the problem of the efficient visualization of large irregular volume data sets by exploiting a multiresolution model based on tetrahedral meshes. Multiresolution models, also called Level-Of-Detail (LOD) models, allow encoding the whole data set at a virtually continuous range of different resolutions. We have identified a set of queries for extracting meshes at variable resolution from a multiresolution model, based on field values, domain location, or opacity of the transfer function. Such queries allow trading off between resolution and speed in visualization. We define a new compact data structure for encoding a multiresolution tetrahedral mesh built through edge collapses to support selective refinement efficiently and show that such a structure has a storage cost from 3 to 5.5 times lower than standard data structures used for tetrahedral meshes. The data structures and variable resolution queries have been implemented together with state-of-the art visualization techniques in a system for the interactive visualization of three-dimensional scalar fields defined on tetrahedral meshes. Experimental results show that selective refinement queries can support interactive visualization of large data sets.