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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...

Mobile GIS

Lighter mobile devices that can run GIS are improving the integration of field and office-based software

By Virginia Heffernan

There are reasons why field geologists have been slow to embrace digital mapping techniques. Laptops are heavy to carry on long traverses and vulnerable to the elements and dying batteries. Smaller devises are often not powerful enough to run sophisticated GIS software. And in most cases, geologists require a hard copy version of the field map regardless of whether they digitize their findings or not.

Yet the lure of being able to store thousands of field measurements and overlay several images on a small PC is convincing many to go digital. Suppliers are responding by introducing lighter mobile devices, designing smartphone applications that can run GIS, and improving the integration of field and office-based software.

“We believe the explorationist of tomorrow will have access to anything from his corporate archive at his vocal command, anywhere, anytime,” says Geoff Wade, ESRI’s team lead for the natural resource industries. “Something with the versatility of the Star Trek Tricorder would seem about right.”

But we are not there yet. The main complaint about the current tools available for digital fieldwork is that memory is often sacrificed at the alter of  greater mobility. To address this problem, geologists are devising a range of data collection techniques that will suit their individual needs and budgets until something better and/or more affordable comes along.

Oregon-based geological consultant Carrie Beveridge, for instance, uses a handheld Trimble GPS unit with sub-meter accuracy that is connected via Bluetooth to a field computer that is powerful enough to run ESRI’s ArcGIS.

“My experience with loading RAM intensive imagery, such as aerial photos, onto a handheld GPS is that the GPS operating system struggled to refresh and would occasionally crash,” she says.

At the Geological Survey of Queensland in Australia, geologists carry full-sized tablet PCs running Windows XP despite their bulk and weight because they  “make it possible to take the office into the field” and the more screen real estate the better,  says Mal Jones, a senior geologist at the survey. 

The survey uses ArcPAD to enter data in the field. For one major project, Jones added a Bluetooth GPS velcro-mounted on the car dashboard to provide cordless linkage to the tablet.  The team logged over 5,500 locations and travelled over 35,000 km and each time they returned to the office, their data was instantly compatible with the office environment.

A similar method devised by researchers at James Madison and Old Dominion Universities in Virginia uses either a Trimble GeoXM pocket PC or xPlore Technologies’ ruggedized tablet PC pre-loaded with bit-mapped scans of topographic maps and aerial photos. The geoscientists reproject the images within ArcGIS, then download them to ArcPAD along with shapefiles that incorporate lithology, orientation measurements and other outcrop data recorded on location. 

While in the field, they use ArcPAD to draw lithologic unit polygons and linear features such as faults and contacts. Back at the office, they upload the data and field interpretations to ArcGIS. When the final map is ready, the ArcGIS shapefiles are exported to KML files for use in Google Earth or other virtual globes.

“We still record data in a field book as a back up because battery power or GPS signals can be lost prematurely,” say Steven Whitmeyer, Jerry Nicoletti and Declan De Paor, co-authors of The Digital Revolution in Digital Mapping published in the April/May edition of GSA Today. The authors concede that the redundancy of plotting a hard copy version may make some geologists question the logic of going digital at all, but insist the extra effort is worth it.

For MapInfo Professional users such as Caroline Hilton, managing director of UK-based Pelican GeoGraphics Ltd, there is Discover Mobile, a GPS-enabled handheld that can be used for field data capture, sample logging, mapping and navigation.

“It is set up to talk directly to a GPS and to enter structural as well as observational data, so is very geologically-friendly,” says Hilton.  “We have a number of clients using this in the field.”

Meanwhile, ESRI is completing the first iteration of their next-generation mobile platform called ArcGIS Mobile. The new application integrates with ArcGIS Server to provide central management and deployment of mobile GIS data, maps, tasks, and projects and can be configured and customized to fit field project workflows.

In addition, a new SDK from ESRI allows iPhone users to embed ArcGIS maps and tasks into their iPhone applications. The API is designed to display maps, execute sophisticated geoprocessing tasks, and record locations.

 “We are confident that once we release the iPhone API there will be a cadre of entrepreneurial developers building mining specific functionality to assist with things like working remotely for an extended amount of time, a strike-slip app and interface capability for geological symbology, etc.,” says Wade “I don't believe the iPhone or iPad will replace the ruggedized laptop or versatile integrated GPS device—I have one of those too—but I'll use one in the field during the day, and the other will never leave my side.”

Regardless of the tools, the ability to assemble draft versions of maps that can be continually evaluated and changed in the field is the main advantage of digital fieldwork, say Whitmeyer, Nicoletti and De Paor. And since all professional geology maps are now created using computer-based graphics programs, geologists can simplify and streamline the process by using compatible hardware and software right from the field collection stage through to final map preparation.

“What I find most remarkable is the workflow convenience of larger memory, a bigger screen size, ruggedized nature and, perhaps most useful, the bewildering connectivity to GPS, 3G telecom networks, wireless—you name it,” concurs Wade.