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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...

Amityville weapon resurfaces

Almost 40 years after one of America's most famous mass murders, a second weapon is detected and recovered with marine geophysics.

by Graham Chandler on June 4, 2012 applied

It was the perfect horror classic. With stars like Rod Steiger, James Brolin and Margot Kidder, and driven by the horrific true murder story behind it, 1979’s The Amityville Horror was just one of a series of blockbusters, most of them based on the subsequent haunting of the house where it all happened. But of the original 1974 crime investigation by New York’s Suffolk County police department, one thing was missing—a second murder weapon.

Now thanks to some sleuthing by documentary producer Ryan Katzenbach and a detailed underwater electromagnetic survey conducted by US-based Aqua Survey Inc, it has surfaced, quite literally.

Katzenbach is producing a three-part feature series entitled Shattered Hopes, about the murders to which Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. confessed the day after. The official story is that he acted alone, in a heroin- and alcohol-fuelled rage, in killing six members of his family in their beds with just a .35-caliber Marlin rifle. Methodically, starting with his abusive father. But other versions of the story are much more complicated: it was hypothesized by some that Butch acted along with his sister Dawn—who was shot by Butch the same night. For this to happen there must have been another murder weapon. And supporting that theory, among some discarded evidence found nearby was a handgun holster. But no handgun.

According to a feature story by writer Seth Porges that appeared in the May 2012 issue of Maxim magazine, during his research of (heavily redacted) police files and reports of the original investigation Katzenbach had learned of ballistic and other evidence that strongly suggested a .38-caliber handgun had been involved too. If so, Katzenbach theorized the gun may have been thrown into the canal that fronts the now-famous house.

But how to find it? Katzenbach engaged the services of Aqua Survey, to undertake an electromagnetic survey of the canal. Aqua Survey had the requisite skills. Their work, and expertise in ecotoxicology and marine geophysics, has taken them everywhere from Cleopatra’s Palace off Alexandria, Egypt, to the Bahamas, where they have helped hunt for sunken treasures.

To narrow the search area and keep costs to a minimum, they combined proven geophysical techniques with some deductive reasoning. Aqua Survey owner and founder Ken Hayes explains their approach: “First, we took chunks of asphalt that weighed the same as a .38 handgun andpitched them into the canal. Then we added about 25 feet, reasoning that the kid was on heroin and had just killed six people, so there was a strong likelihood he had greater strength.”

That focused the search area down to about 125 feet directly out from the bulkhead and approximately 200 to 300 feet in length. Towing an electromagnetic time domain detection system behind their boat, they then began the pattern. “Our survey lanes were one metre wide,” says Hayes. “We used a DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System), survey-grade GPS, setup for navigation and tracking control and, as they say in the business, ‘mowed the lawn’. ”The survey took less than five hours.

Next, Aqua Survey geophysicists performed an advanced computer analysis on the targets in order to distinguish and prioritize them. Different filters were applied to the data using Geosoft montaj UX- Detect, says Hayes. They ended up with over 317 metallic targets, so had to winnow them down. “We could guess how thick the mud was there,” says Hayes. So they took an actual handgun of similar size and weight, and scanned it from incremental distances starting at one foot to see what a handgun signature would roughly look like at various depths under the muck. From that, “we narrowed the potential targets down to a probable ten,” he says, “using the analysis and filtering tools in UX-Detect.”

“We were able to eliminate a whole lot of signatures to prioritize the ten,” says Hayes. To accurately zero in on those so divers could locate a suspected item, they made their own electromagnetic probe. “We used it in real time,” says Hayes. “With it we went out with our precision GPS and got onto the location. We were in about eight feet of water and we knew the mud was four, maybe five, feet deep.” On each location they would push the EM probe into the sediment until the target was reacquired, because they could see the EM signatures on their computers, on the boat, in real time. “Then we put the probe right on the target—we knew when we were touching it—and the diving team would excavate right down the probe pole. On just the third dig-out the diver came up with a glob of mud; it was obviously metal by its weight. “We washed it off, and the chamber and part of the barrel were missing, but it was clearly a top-break snub-nose,” says Hayes.

There could be grounds for skepticism admits Hayes, but he’s confident with their role in the discovery. “Do we know it was the gun used in the commission of the crime?” he questions. “We don’t, but from all the evidence this is where it was. We know the diver didn’t plant it, and I know my guys didn’t. While we considered that the producer might be pushing for sensationalism, it’s cost him money to fund the survey with no guarantee of results.”

When the recovery team came up with the handgun, they had it for all of about 20 minutes. “The Crime Scene Investigation people watched our every move,” says Hayes “and it was promptly put into an evidence bag and taken away by the Suffolk County Police Department.”

In the end, it was another experience for Aqua Survey to add to their portfolio of geoscience detective work, and Hayes believes the producer got what he wanted:  “All of a sudden it’s no longer just a movie, it’s a sensational movie.”