The people, science and technology behind discovery

Subscribe to the Magazine

Get new articles sent directly to
your mailbox.

Join the network

Twitter Updates Group Forum

Earth Explorer is an online source of news, expertise and applied knowledge for resource explorers and earth scientists. Sponsored by Geosoft.

News & Views

News Archive

December 7, 2016

Geosoft introduces IP and resistivity inversion in VOXI Earth Modelling

Geosoft has added induced polarization and resistivity data inversion to its VOXI Earth Modelling 3D inversion software service. Geoscientists are now able to create detailed 3D models of conductivity and chargeability from IP and resistivity survey data with VOXI. The resulting models can assist in interpreting and targeting regions for mineral and environmental applications...

December 5, 2016

Mexico's Deepwater Round Exceeds Expectations

Some of the world's biggest oil companies showed up Dec. 5 and agreed to invest on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico, proving that deepwater exploration still has a pulse despite challenging market conditions...

November 30, 2016

Magnetic inversion results for Ngamiland available for download

A regional-scale geophysical inversion of magnetic field data in the Ngamiland region of northwestern Botswana is now available for download from the Botswana Geoscience Portal, a partnership initiative of the Botswana Geoscience Institute, industry sponsors and Geosoft...

November 30, 2016

LIGO Resumes Search for Gravitational Waves

After a series of upgrades, the twin detectors of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, have turned back on and resumed their search for ripples in the fabric of space and time known as gravitational waves. LIGO transitioned from their engineering test runs to full science observations at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 30...

November 9, 2016

International Volcano Scientists Unite

For the first time, the United States will host the international Volcano Observatory Best Practices workshop, previously held only in Italy. The workshop will take place this month in Vancouver, Washington. It is designed specifically for volcano observatories around the world and their staff to exchange ideas and best practices with each other...

October 4, 2016

USGS Assesses Mineral Potential for Sagebrush Habitats in Six Western States

USGS has completed a comprehensive assessment and inventory of potential mineral resources covering approximately 10 million acres of Federal and adjacent lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming...

October 3, 2016

Uganda Targets Up to U.S.$100 Million for Mineral Exploration

Uganda is well endowed with mineral resources and, like many naturally-gifted African countries, is becoming keen on ensuring that these resources play a transformative role in its long-term structural transformation dream - the Vision 2040...

September 9, 2016

Small-Scale Fishers Get A Big Boost With First-Of-Its Kind Impact Investment Fund

Conservation organization Rare announces the Meloy Fund for Small-Scale Fisheries at Our Ocean Conference. The Global Environment Facility, one of the largest funders of conservation worldwide, will be investing $6 million into the fund...

September 1, 2016

Scientists take to the skies to track West African pollution

Scientists operating research aircraft over West Africa have detected organic materials in the atmosphere over a number of urban areas, contributing to concerns of the rise in pollution across the region...

August 17, 2016

New IGS Xplore prospectivity maps for Botswana

International Geoscience Services have released a series of base metal prospectivity maps for the Ngamiland District of northwestern Botswana using free geodata available on the recently-launched Botswana Geoscience Portal, hosted by Geosoft. The maps identify favorable areas for copper, zinc and lead mineralization using geological, geochemical and geophysical datasets downloaded directly from the portal.

August 11, 2016

NexGen Makes New High Grade Discovery

NexGen Energy reported the discovery of a new high grade zone of mineralization 4.7 km northeast of the Arrow Deposit as part of an on-going summer drilling program on its 100% owned, Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

August 10, 2016

Rampion UXO Disposal to Take Place This Week

E.ON has confirmed that the two unexploded devices, detected along the Rampion offshore cable route will be safely disposed this week following the consultation with the Marine Management Organisation...

August 9, 2016

Diamonds In The Rough: E&Ps Find New Reserves In Mature Basins

The oil industry’s history demonstrates clearly that new plays and prospects have long been found in mature basins that were thought to be well on the way to being squeezed dry. Through the acquisition of new data, developing new concepts and coming up with fresh interpretations, long-producing basins around the world from the North Sea to Malaysia have continued to reveal new riches...

August 8, 2016

Northern Shield Identifies High Quality VTEM Targets at Séquoi

Northern Shield Resources announced the results of the interpretation and modelling of the VTEM survey from the Séquoi Property in the Labrador Trough of Quebec . Séquoi is owned 100% by Northern Shield and is being explored for Noril'sk style Ni-Cu-PGE massive sulphides. After geophysical modelling and interpretation of the VTEM data from Séquoi, six VTEM anomalies of significant interest have been identified...

August 3, 2016

Rio Tinto tailors big data drive to copper

Rio Tinto will put the weight of an exploration big data push and its newly-formed Growth and Innovation group behind its desire to identify a "tier 1" copper asset. Speaking at the annual Diggers & Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Growth and Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said Australia was "overdue for a tier 1" mineral discovery of any type...

August 1, 2016

Tetra Tech Awarded $200 Million Navy CLEAN Contract

Tetra Tech announced that it has been awarded a $200 million, single-award contract by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic. Through the Comprehensive Long-term Environmental Action Navy (CLEAN) contract, Tetra Tech will provide environmental engineering support services to installations within the NAVFAC Atlantic Area of Responsibility...

May 3, 2016

NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS), MODUM Partners announce "Young Scientist Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons"

This international project cooperates closely with CHEMSEA (Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons) Project for and sharing and knowledge transfer...

April 12, 2016

Monday mad rush for gold stocks

Renewed optimism about the outlook for gold saw investors pile back into gold stocks, pushing many stock to 52-week highs in heavy volumes...

April 11, 2016

Medgold Resources: Continues to Expand the Boticas Gold Project, Portugal; Proposes $200,000 Private Placement

Medgold Resources is pleased to announce new assay results from contiguous rock-chip sampling from the Limarinho South zone at its Boticas gold project in Portugal, which include a highlight of 6.0m @ 5.7 g/t Au...

April 8, 2016

De-carbonizing our energy sector

Nuclear energy currently provides around 11 percent of the world's electricity. China, the European Union, the United States, India, Russia, South Korea, and other nations’ have major existing fleets...

April 1, 2016

Follow-Up Drilling Results Indicate Wide Gold Zones at Hendricks Gold Discovery

Gascoyne Resources Limited announced that it has received the final assay results from the 10,000 metre aircore exploration drilling programme...

March 26, 2016

The Oil Market Is Finally Hitting Its Breaking Point

After a significant reduction in investments over the past two years, oil companies can no longer overcome the production declines from legacy wells...

March 15, 2016

N-Sea Expands into the French Offshore Wind Industry

Subsea IMR provider, N-Sea, has signed a letter of intent with CERES Recherches & Expertise Sous-Marine and TechSub Industrie Environement, to provide subsea survey, installation and remediation services to the French offshore wind industry...

March 9, 2016

PDAC 2016 Convention Exceeds 22,000 Attendees

Optimism and opportunity abounded at the PDAC 2016 Convention of The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in spite of recent industry challenges...

March 3, 2016

6 Alpha Launches EOD Contracting Division

6 Alpha Associates, a specialist risk consultancy practice, with expertise in the assessment and management of unexploded ordnance, has launched a dedicated explosive ordnance disposal division...

Hunsaker Inc: Exploring the data-rich Nevada goldfields

By Virginia Heffernan

As a well-established consulting geologist working in the middle of the Nevada goldfields, Buster Hunsaker has adopted software and GIS as a critical part of his exploration tool kit – both in the field and in the office.

Being faster and more efficient in using technology for geological insight and project management has given him an edge in what can be a competitive business, especially during cyclical downturns in the mining industry like the one we are experiencing today. More important, it's enabled him to produce better results for his customers.

"Our expertise in GIS has opened a lot of doors for us," says Hunsaker, who specializes in early stage gold exploration projects. "As a consultant, bringing both our experience and technology to bear on projects is a tremendous advantage. We see a real gap in the application of technology to exploration. There are not as many senior people applying it as there should be."

The Carlin gold belt in north-central Nevada is one of the richest in the world. Hunsaker estimates that about 8% of global gold production comes from deposits within a 100 km of his headquarters in Elko. Because the state has been so intensively mined and explored over the years, there is a rich store of available data, including a comprehensive subsurface database.

That's where the application of digital technology comes in handy. Without the tools to process and make sense of it, all that data would be mindboggling at best and virtually useless at worst.

Using ESRI's ArcView to visualize geographic data in combination with Geosoft's Target for ArcGIS to mange drill projects, Hunsaker is able to integrate volumes of old and new data, both public and private, to highlight areas with mineral potential, work within different scales, and generate 3-D renderings of the information.

"There are a lot of new geological concepts coming out in Nevada," he says. "We can take the new geologic maps and apply existing data to them and it gives us new ways to interpret the existing data."

Though Hunsaker has been using GIS for years, many mining companies are just beginning to see the value of integrating geological, geochemical and geophysical data from government geological surveys – which are increasingly publishing data in ESRI formats – with their own exploration data as part of their workflow.

The most obvious advantages are efficiencies in project and data management, time savings, increased productivity and better decision making.

The introduction of extensions for GIS systems such as Geosoft's Target for ArcGIS has made the suite of spatial analysis tools even more powerful by providing the ability to visualize subsurface geological data within a GIS environment.

"We wouldn't consider doing something without the third dimension, if we have drill data available," says Hunsaker, "and Target provides the ability to handle that third dimension quickly and easily. That's both the geophysics as well as the drillhole data."

"Having the 3D perspective also means we're quite comfortable bringing in a lot of data because we're confident we can handle it and it won't overwhelm us." says Hunsaker.

Hunsaker's adoption of GIS for mineral exploration began 12 years ago when he was looking for an efficient way to track federal mining claims. A colleague directed him to ArcView and there has been no looking back.

"ArcView's ability to handle large amounts of data led us to expand from land title data to all kinds of geologic data," he says.

As Hunsaker's experience with GIS grew, he was able to take the mostly raster data available in Nevada and convert it into GIS format. That gives him another edge over the competition. "From a business viewpoint it has become a good income stream for us."

Another unique aspect of Hunsaker's approach to exploration is his use of ESRI's ArcPad, a software program that allows data capture in the field on ultra-rugged field computers or hand-held devices. The software is commonly used in urban areas where there is easy access to cell phone networks, but is just beginning to penetrate the mineral exploration industry.

Using ArcPad has allowed Hunsaker to generate data in GIS format while he is in the field, resulting in an instant compatibility between field and office that would not be possible were he still using a notebook to scribble observations about outcrops and other geological information.

In the historic gold mining district of Wonder, Nevada, for instance, Hunsaker used ESRI's ArcMap to convert 34 years of data generated by his client and a century of archival data into a standard GIS coordinate system. He then took the subsurface data – including results from more than 100 boreholes – and applied Geosoft's Target for ArcGIS to generate cross sections.

He is adding even more value to the historic data by using ArcPad to complete additional surface mapping in the field, creating another layer of digital information that can be used to explore the district.

"The ArcMap model and the Geosoft extension allowed me to generate sections that have the latest mapping from ArcPad windowed in the plan portion, straight out of the field," he says.

As important as it is today, adapting technology to exploration will be even more essential in the future.

"We are generating massive amounts of data, all of it digital and most in GIS format. You need technology to effectively explore all this new data and fit it in to your projects," says Hunsaker. "The new technology that's coming on stream, like Geosoft DAP and Dapple is phenomenal. You can take an AirCard even in an area where you have limited coverage, and you can take a cell connection with your tablet computer and access these data sets."

"Don't even think about the old tools," he advises other explorationists. "Think about the new tools that are coming on board. You need to become really efficient with data."