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...

Lake Sediment Sampling Program Helps Detect
Mineral Potential

By Virginia Heffernan

Teams of provincial geoscientists are fanning out across Canada this summer for a fresh season of mapping and sampling that should detect undiscovered areas of mineral potential. And create a whole lot of new data.

One of the main projects within the sedimentary geoscience section of the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS), for instance, is a multi-year lake sediment sampling program that is building a geochemical picture of northern Ontario.

Under the program, the OGS has been collecting tens of thousands of samples from the more than 250,000 lakes that dot Ontario in order to support mineral exploration and provide high-quality baseline geochemical data.

Over the past 20 years, the high-density sampling (about one sample per 3 km2) has covered about a third of the province. OGS geochemist Richard Dyer estimates he will collect about 2,000 lake sediment samples over an area of 6,000 square kilometers this summer alone.

The resulting dataset is becoming so large that using conventional tools to display the information can be painstakingly slow.

As a result, the OGS has created an add-on to Google Earth called OGS Earth that allows even novice users to integrate multiple geological data layers such as lake sediment sample results, geology, topography and cultural information in virtual 3-D, quickly and easily.

But for more sophisticated interpretation, the OGS will use Geosoft's recently released Geochemistry for ArcGIS extension to analyze the lake sediment data within a GIS environment.

The new extension allows geoscientists to examine multivariate relationships, uncover underlying structures, identify outliers and anomalies, and present results on maps that are both visually striking and informative.

The software contributes to a smooth workflow - from importing the data, through to quality control, analysis, and integration of other datasets and finally to visualization in a way that is meaningful to colleagues, managers and mining companies.

"We're able to take the data from the lab with very minor manipulation, extract the standards, plot it up and immediately start working with data using one program," says Dyer. "Before, we had to bring the data into (Microsoft) Excel, massage it, then bring it into (Microsoft) Access, run some queries, spit the data out again and bring it back into Excel. If there was any problem along the way, you'd have to go back to square one."

Dyer sees the extension proving useful for the OGS's other regional geochemical sampling programs, including an ongoing groundwater sampling project in southern Ontario.

Geoscientists at the Manitoba Geological Survey are equally eager to try out the geochemistry extension on their new sampling initiative in the Flin Flon greenstone belt. Working in collaboration with Ryan Morelli at the Saskatchewan Northern Geological Survey, Manitoba's Renée-Luce Simard will look under the Paleozoic cover rocks to find new VMS deposit potential in the prolific base metal-rich belt that straddles the provincial border.

The Flin Flon and Snow Lake districts host numerous world-class VMS deposits, including four operating mines (Callinan, Triple 7, Trout Lake, and Chisel North), many past-producing mines, and several unexploited deposits, including the newly-discovered Lalor deposit. All of them are located in the portion of the belt where the Precambrian host rocks are exposed.

To the south, the host rocks dive under up to 300 metres of Paleozoic limestone, making exploration more challenging. Still, both the provincial surveys and mining companies working in the area believe it is only a matter of time and technology before equally rich deposits are found beneath the cover rocks. 

Geophysics and follow-up drilling are the traditional methods used for finding buried deposits, but subsurface geochemistry also has a story to tell. Simard will be investigating the geochemistry of existing drill holes in order to piece together a map of the subsurface that – in combination with the geology and geophysics - will serve as a guide to further drilling.

The project is funded in part by the GSC's Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI) designed to lead to new discoveries in established mining communities. It stretches from the Flin-Flon Creighton area on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border to Lynn Lake further north and involves targeted bedrock and surficial mapping, airborne geophysics, seismic exploration and geochemistry.

Simard's team is involved in the third phase of the project, designed to develop methods to detect geochemical signatures of the buried VMS deposits.
 
"There is a lot data and that's where the Geosoft extension will be fantastic," says Simard. "There are over three thousand drill holes in the sub-Phanerozoic. The companies have been sharing the geochemistry for these drill holes with us, so at up to twenty-five samples per hole, that's a lot of data to sort through."

Because the holes are widely distributed over hundreds of kilometres and there is no exposure at surface, it can be difficult to pinpoint sample locations. This is where Simard sees the geochemistry extension being especially useful.

"There is software out there that allows us to display the geochemistry on an x-y scatterplot or triangular plot to get the geochemical signature of the sample, but you don't know which sample has which signature because there is no link to your map" says Simard. "With the Geosoft software, when we select samples on the scatter diagram they are automatically highlighted on the map. That's a powerful tool."

 Simard will be using the geochemistry extension in combination with Target for ArcGIS in order to come up with a 3-D interpretation of the subsurface and even produce new geological models for areas that have higher-density drilling. And as the baby boomer generation of government geologists retires, Simard sees a need for preserving the old data and making it relevant to incoming geologists.

"We have a lot of legacy issues in the sense that people that are retiring have huge datasets and knowledge of an area that need to be passed on." she says.  "The traditional solution would be to find the geochemistry database, go back to the notes, go back to the map and then plot each and every sample. The geochemistry extension does 95% of this work for us. You can make an association between the geochemical signature and the map, even if you've never been there or weren't the one who collected the samples."

Government surveys at both the national and regional level are becoming guardians of an increasing amount of data that needs to be readily accessible and easily displayed by industry and other stakeholders. Innovations in software and technology are helping them to provide that level of service.