Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:GeophysicsGeophysics, Volume 76, Number 4, p.W31-W50 (2011)
Mining exploration was very active during the first decade of the twenty-first century because there were numerous advances in the science and technology that geophysicists were using for mineral exploration. Development came from different sources: instrumentation improvements, new numerical algorithms, and cross-fertilization with the seismic industry. In gravity, gradiometry kept its promise and is on the cusp of becoming a key technology for mining exploration. In potential-field methods in general, numerous techniques have been developed for automatic interpretation, and 3D inversion schemes came into frequent use. These inversions will have even greater use when geologic constraints can be applied easily. In airborne electromagnetic (EM) methods, the development of time-domain helicopter EM systems changed the industry. In parallel, improvements in EM modeling and interpretation occurred; in particular, the strengths and weaknesses of the various algorithms became better understood. Simpler imaging schemes came into standard use, whereas layered inversion seldom is used in the mining industry today. Improvements in ground EM methods were associated with the development of SQUID technology and distributed-acquisition systems; the latter also impacted ground induced-polarization (IP) methods. Developments in borehole geophysics for mining and exploration were numerous. Borehole logging to measure physical properties received significant interest. Perhaps one reason for that interest was the desire to develop links between geophysical and geologic results, which also is a topic of great importance to mining geologists and geophysicists.