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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...

Alan Vowles
Learning to innovate contributes to discovery success

The seeds of Alan Vowles' success were sown on the Quebec farm where he grew up, helping his father build and fix equipment.

"You have to be an innovator growing up on a farm," says Vowles, a project geophysicist for HudBay Minerals Inc., who once outsmarted his childhood friends by crafting a unique wooden bow that could shoot an arrow further than anybody else's.  

When it came time to consider a career, Vowles didn't gravitate naturally towards farming. But after a childhood spent outdoors, he couldn't fathom the idea of an office job either.
 
"I wanted to get into an occupation that allowed me to work outside in exciting settings and the choice was either geoscience or forestry. I was accepted into geological engineering technology."

Pity the forestry sector. In the decades since graduating from Sault Ste Marie's Cambrian College in 1970, Vowles' innovative streak has contributed to several discoveries for HudBay in northern Manitoba, including the Lalor zinc-gold deposit in the Flin Flon greenstone belt for which Vowles shares the 2009 Bill Dennis award for Canadian discovery of the year with geologist Kelly Gilmore.
 
In mid-2009, six drills were still turning at Lalor to upgrade the VMS resource and further investigate newly-found gold mineralization in the deposit. Lalor now has an indicated resource of 3.4 million tonnes grading 1.9gpt gold 20.5 gpt silver, 0.71% copper and 8.82% zinc and an inferred resource of 13.2 million tonnes grading 2.9gpt gold, 34.1gpt silver, 0.70% copper and 8.19% zinc.
 
Though some geoscientists have expressed doubts about the efficacy of deep-penetrating geophysical technology as a means of finding new ore, Lalor is proof that using the technology can pay off if you know how to tailor the instruments for the type of deposit you seek.

Seven years ago Chris Roney, a project geologist at the time, recognized that if HudBay was going to find another deposit in the vicinity of the Chisel North mine in northern Manitoba, the company was going to have to look deep, very deep. But exploration budgets were tight, so Vowles proposed a relatively inexpensive experiment to see if he could detect Chisel North 600 metres below surface and use those readings to find a similar deposit.

In order to make the best use of Crone Geophysics' deep-penetrating pulse Pulse EM equipment, Vowles and local contractor Dave Koop decided to double up the copper wire that would send an electric current over a two square kilometer area above the mine. The double wire improved field strength and allowed for better resolution at depth.

"We didn't have the most modern technology at the time," says Vowles. "But to mimic the new capability that was coming out, we set the receiver to take thousands of readings and averaged them until the response from the deposit became crystal clear.  People wouldn't normally go to that length to get readings."

The tinkering, "plus a few other innovative tricks that we are not divulging", allowed the equipment to detect the outline of the Chisel Mine at depth. Now it was just a matter of finding the next big one.

At first, that goal looked easy to reach if difficult to execute. After laying more than 3,000 pounds of copper wire and conducting miles of survey over a prospective area of thick bush and frozen lakes, Koop's skilled team knew they had a hit: the data revealed two large, round bull's eyes indicating huge conductive bodies 800 metres below surface.

But after spending $250,000 to drill test the first anomaly, results were disappointing: stringer mineralization with copper and zinc grades that were not high enough to be economic. The project was scrapped.

In 2007, with metal prices soaring, Gilmore won permission to restart the drills and Craig Taylor, the new project Geologist, proposed drilling on the second bull's eye. This time they found the target: zinc-rich massive sulphide over wide intersections. With further drilling, the gold mineralization at Lalor is proving to be just as important as the zinc at a time when gold prices are soaring.

"Lalor might become two mines - a zinc mine and a gold mine – serviced from the same shaft." says Vowles. He believes it is just a matter of time before another, similar deposit is found in the vicinity using a combination of deep penetration EM and borehole geophysics.

Many exploration geoscientists spend their whole careers searching for but never finding the jackpot, but Vowles has participated in several discoveries over his 40-year career with HudBay. Some might argue that geoscientists of Vowles generation had an easier time of it because the ore was more detectable closer to surface.

But Vowles says aspiring geophysicists with good technical skills should be optimistic about their role in finding the next generation of deposits, even though they may not share his advantage of growing up on a farm.

"All of the advancements in geophysics have opened up a huge amount of opportunity, especially in searching for deep deposits. It's a field with a future," he says.