(October 29th, 2013 by M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD) Within many of the world’s natural resource rich countries, the mining industry faces a number of key challenges including, but not limited to: prospecting in uncharted land; managing the remote locations of new deposits; gathering multiple datasets to one environment, production delays due to adverse weather; understanding, managing, and averting risk impacts, and bringing supply to market. Moreover, geologists use a vast variety of geospatial datasets that typically include bedrock and surficial geological maps, airborne geophysical survey data, geochemistry of lake-sediment samples, mineral occurrence data, structural lineaments, fold axes and formation contacts, as well as base maps to get the answers they need. Integrating these disparate datasets into one environment is key in understanding natural resource potential, especially in remote locations.
In most cases, integrated databases provide important clues that lead to discoveries such as areas favorable for gold mineralization based on the distribution of known gold occurrences, or where to drill for oil. Such analysis comes much easier and provides more accurate results when using a geospatial database that integrates field data and digital geological geospatial data providing a basis for the use of interpolation methods based on many different types of analytical methods, like those presented by Spatial Energy (see link below for a webinar) and Virtalis and the British Geologic Survey (see them at the GSA conference – link below).
Such applications are able to handle multi-scale geological models contain three-dimensional, spatially referenced data, typically spanning at least six orders of magnitude from outcrop to regional scale, which help to quantify some types of uncertainty associated with subsurface interpretation, and the use of this uncertainty to evaluate the validity of competing interpretations. In other words, they provide geologists with the ability to see through bedrock to understand where the mineral potential is, so to speak. To learn more about geological applications using geospatial databases and 3D software, check out the GSA Conference and Spatial Energy’s webinar.