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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...

UXO Quality Control

Establishing standards in data Quality Control and Quality Assurance for UXO detection


When in doubt, you dig. That's the rule in the investigation of unexploded ordnance (UXO). UXO pose a real threat to both human life and the environment. Millions of UXO may be located in the U.S. on active test and training ranges and Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS). During an investigation of UXO-contaminated sites, when the data gives you reason to think something is there - you act on it.

Experience has shown, however, that too often the digging does not result in the discovery of a UXO; and the time, effort and cost involved is wasted. Many of the causes for false alarms, and other inefficiencies in UXO project cycles, can be traced back to data quality issues.

Essentially, all investigations of UXO involve the use of Digital Geophysical Mapping (DGM), and they are highly dependent on quality field data. Assuring the quality of the data holds unique challenges for Government agencies mandated with performing quality assurance of investigation results. First, the geophysical mapping is almost always performed by individual contractors or teams of contractors, each with their own proprietary methodology and tools. To date there has been no common hardware platform, software platform, or standard methodology for doing the work, and delivering the data to customers. Second, it doesn't take much to skew the data, and lose data integrity. Simple things like instrument noise, steel toed boots, jangling keys in the operator's pocket and flopping cables can all result in inconsistent data, and contribute to faulty decision-making.

The connection between repetitive data quality issues with resurveying and lost productivity has led to an intensified focus on improving data Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA).

To combat the problem, the US Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville and industry software developer Geosoft joined forces, with the sponsorship of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), to target improvements in the quality assurance and quality control of field data in collaboration with the UXO community.

The cooperative partnership resulted in the initiation of a UXO QC/QA project, funded under ESTCP. The project's first product, a standardized tool set for the QC/QA of collected field data was publicly released in 2002 and an enhanced tool set was subsequently released in 2003. The QC/QA tool sets are available under the industry standard Oasis montajT interface. The principal goals of the project were to standardize Quality Control and Quality Assurance (QC/QA) processes within the UXO community, to improve data quality and detection methods, and to establish a standard software platform for the sharing of SERDP/ESTCP analysis algorithms.


The Data Quality Problem

Over several years, the Huntsville Center had recorded a high number of repetitive problems and false alarms. "We had highly variable data quality, day to day, week to week and month to month," said Scott Millhouse, US Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville Center. "Sometimes at the end of a project, we would find no relationship between initial performance with the A team, and final performance with the C or D team."

The money spent on false alarms and rework can add up. "Every time we dig it costs us around $200 dollars a hole, whether we find something or not," says Millhouse.

It's not just about cost, however, it's about ensuring the consistent quality of the data. "We don't want to map a thousand acres, then analyze the data and find out that there's been a problem all along - a repetitive problem," said Millhouse. Issues like faulty equipment, if undetected, can undermine the success of an entire project.

Productivity and use of resources is another key concern. The Huntsville group found that a significant amount of time and resources was spent working with contractors to ensure acceptable levels of data quality. "Our geophysicist and his team would spend weeks at a time on the initial start up of a project, getting problems worked out," explains Millhouse. "And they were seeing the same problems over and over and over again - with different contractors. We just didn't have the manpower to put that kind of effort into every project."


The QC/QA Solution

Responding to this problem, the Huntsville Center had been working collaboratively with contractors and others to come up with tests to validate and maintain the performance of equipment, and procedures for the analysis of data. The Center's early efforts helped to define the issues, and to generate a pool of ideas, techniques and expertise in QC/QA problem solving.

Very quickly however, it was recognized that industry tools and a standard platform were required to deliver significant and sustainable improvements in data QC/QA.

"Everyone was aware of the problem," said Millhouse. "The issue became how do we solve it? The answer was to establish the standard tests, and also the software tools to enable contractors to be more effective in meeting data quality expectations."

The decision to partner with Geosoft was made based on the need to build a mature and comprehensive technological solution that could be made readily available to the UXO community on a standard software platform.

"Our goal was to migrate the QC/QA tools to a commercial platform that would ensure easy access by contractors, and Geosoft's Oasis Montaj interface was already established as an open industry-standard platform," said Millhouse. "Geosoft's commercial UXO product was also used by many of our geophysical contractors."

A cooperative agreement was struck for Geosoft to code the complete QC/QA tool set into their current UX-Detect product, and also to make the basic tools freely available as part of their industry standard Oasis Montaj interface. The agreement, funded under ESTCP, provides the tools for all contractors to reach a certain quality level, without requiring an additional financial investment.


Project Success

The Huntsville group is already starting to see improvements in data quality and consistency. "We're seeing greater consistency and day-to-day data matching, improved repeatability, and increased production," says Millhouse.

Wide spread use of the new QC/QA tool set has improved field data by identifying and correcting instrument and acquisition errors prior to demobilization. The software includes tests to verify that geophysical equipment is working properly and that contractors are meeting performance requirements throughout the project cycle. The tools have also enabled UXO investigations to be more efficient and cost effective, with less reworking of mapped areas.

In addition, the project is establishing a standard platform for sharing analysis algorithms developed by other groups who have been funded under SERDP or ESTCP. One of ESTCP's goals for the UXO program is to provide tools for the field that everybody can use to add value and quality. In order to enable the establishment of a common platform for learning, developing and distributing discrimination and analysis techniques, emerging successes from the ESTCP and SERDP programs will be written as a Geosoft executable (GX) that can be run under the Oasis montaj interface.

Millhouse attributes the project's successful deployment to the commitment of the people involved and the processes established, as well as the fact that the technological tools are readily available as part of Oasis montaj, the standard platform used by most of the UXO geophysical contractors. "There were no tools available to support QC/QA in the industry. The fact that these basic tools are now available and are free to Government contractors has made the difference," says Millhouse. "As a result, we're starting to see wide spread usage." To promote usage, the Huntsville Center has included a requirement to perform the tests, and to deliver the data in a specific format in their scope of work, Data Item Descriptions (DIDs).

Another key success factor was the Peer Review Process established to support testing of the software in the field. The software underwent an extensive peer review process, prior to release. A select group of peer reviewers, comprised of contractors working for the Huntsville Center, received the software, together with a class on how to use it. Participating contractors were encouraged to begin implementing it on live projects, enabling real-time input on how the software worked in the field. Contractors who previously had to develop their own tools and techniques were able to apply their ideas towards improving the standard toolset. The input received through the review process contributed to software enhancements which are reflected in the current release. Suggestions for additional capabilities are being considered for incorporation into future releases.

According to Millhouse, the cooperative partnership has proven to be a good model for problem solving in the UXO community, and it has delivered benefits to all parties. Geosoft has gained a better understanding of how its technology is being used in the UXO field, and some insight into the priority of customer's problems. "We have found Geosoft to be very flexible and supportive in responding to our needs," says Millhouse. The Huntsville Center has benefited from efficiency and productivity gains throughout its project cycles; and ESTCP has delivered on its mandate of providing validated tools to improve data quality in UXO investigations.

In summary, investment in the creation of industry QC/QA software standards and common methodology is seen as bringing both short term, and long term benefits. Improvements in data consistency have had an immediate impact on UXO project efficiency and productivity. Equally important, having established a standard platform, future developments and improvements can build on an existing foundation, maximizing the value and return on the investment, eliminating the need for extensive training, and facilitating the sharing of new tools and technology within the UXO community.