Exploration research takes a “bottom-up” approach

Geoscience Australia has published an electrical conductivity model for northern Australia, allowing a better understanding of mineral compositions hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

The so-called magnetotelluric (MT) model was created as part of the government agency’s Australian Lithospheric Architecture Magnetotelluric Project (AusLAMP).

AusLAMP is part of the $ 225 million Exploring for the Future program and may uncover critical copper, gold or mineral deposits for future exploration.

Geoscience Australia’s head of minerals, energy and groundwater division Andrew Heap said this “bottom-up” approach to exploration presented new opportunities for Australian miners.

“With this data, scientists can look under the cover of Australia like never before and visualize the structure of the Earth in areas currently poorly understood,” Heap said.

“For example, this new model produced from the newly collected AusLAMP data covers over a million square kilometers of northern Australia and reveals important electrical conductivity characteristics that can be used to refine the search for large mineral systems. in this under-explored region. “

Promising areas in the Northern Territory and Queensland have already been identified using the technology, according to Heap.

Geoscience Australia will continue to collaborate with the State and Northern Territory Geological Surveys, AuScope and the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia and the University of Tasmania at approximately 3,000 sites across Australia. .

Federal Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt said the technology presented a tremendous opportunity for mineral explorers as they sought out Australia’s next great discovery.

“Several major mines across Australia are linked to conductivity characteristics like those identified in this new AusLAMP model, including the trillion dollar Olympic Dam mine in South Australia,” Pitt said.

“I encourage the industry to start using this model now to plan future exploration activities in northern Australia.”


Curtin University in Western Australia also unveiled new technology to help explore its home state.

In partnership with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, researchers at Curtin University’s Oil and Gas Innovation Center and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences have started using machine learning to streamline exploration activities.

The technique, called deep learning, uses a database to understand patterns in geological formations, as lead researcher Vladimir Puzyrev explained.

“Deep learning methods are completely transforming the data analysis landscape as they achieve unprecedented levels of performance in various tasks, dramatically reducing the manual labor and subjectivity present in more conventional exploration methods,” Puzyrev said.

“The ultimate goal of this research project is to help identify new mineral deposits in Western Australia by analyzing large geochemical data using deep learning methods.”

The Geological Survey of Western Australia’s (WAMEX) mineral exploration database has been collecting exploration results for a number of years, which has led researchers to work on the results.

Geological Survey of Western Australia project leader Paul Duuring said having computers analyze more than 50 million samples would save a lot of resources for mining companies.

“There are time and cost issues with manual quality control of such large data, so this project is an important step towards adding value to existing digital geochemical datasets,” said Duuring.

“An improved database opens up new possibilities for Western Australia’s mineral exploration industry.

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