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Mining Geophysical Methods for the 21st Century


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Author Seigel HO


To help meet the challenge of mine finding at the start of the 21st century, the exploration geophysicist will have at his command a powerful range of tools, some new, some improved, and some which already exist today but are as yet little used. Remote sensing, using satellite and aircraft-based multi-spectral scanners, will provide the means for routinely mapping the surface distribution of certain carbonate rocks, clay and ferrous alteration minerals, based on the analysis of solar reflectance spectra. Time and emission-spectral resolved laser-induced fluorescence will likewise map the distribution of certain ore and pathfinder minerals, as well as certain skarn zones, all potentially related to ore deposits. The GPS (Global Positioning System), based on 18 orbitting satellites, will provide a universal, three dimensional, all weather navigation system which will completely supplant all existing aerial navigation systems, and greatly facilitate aerial surveying and automated processing and presentation of the data. Aeromagnetic gradiometer measurements will provide higher geometric resolution which will yield better definition of individual geological units. Multi-method ground geophysical surveys will be greatly expedited through the use of portable microcomputer-based, multi-sensor instruments. These instruments will interface with other intelligent devices for automated processing, presentation and interpretation of the ground field data. Borehole geophysics will come into more general use, both for at-hole measurements, especially using active nuclear techniques for grade determination, and for remote detection using a variety of electrical, magnetic, seismic and other methods.