The people, science and technology behind discovery

Subscribe to the Magazine

Get new articles sent directly to
your mailbox.

Join the network

Twitter Updates Group Forum

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

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...

February 10, 2016

Cameco's new uranium discovery revealed

Canada's top uranium producer has a significant new discovery nearby to one of its largest existing mines...

February 9, 2016

NexGen Drills Most Intense Mineralization to Date at Arrow

NexGen announces further results from its on-going six rig 30,000 m winter 2016 drill program on its 100% owned Rook I Property in the Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

February 9, 2016

Rio Tinto scales up its big data ambitions

Rio Tinto is opening its "vast troves" of exploration data to junior explorers in the hopes they will help sift for opportunities and supply ideas and labour...

February 8, 2016

Online portal improves access to geoscience data from Africa

The Botswana Geoscience Institute is launching a Geoscience Portal...

February 8, 2016

5 Best Minerals & Fossils To Buy With Your IRS Tax Refund

You just got your IRS tax refund and now you're presented with some cash to go out and buy one of a kind minerals and fossils from your local...

February 5, 2016

World's largest offshore windfarm to be built off Yorkshire coast

Dong Energy makes final investment decision on 1.2-gigawatt project that will power more than a million UK homes...

February 2, 2016

World's top 10 rookie gold mines

These high-grade mines will soon start competing with gold mining's industry leaders ...

January 25, 2016

Exxon Mobil Corp's defiant outlook predicts Canadian and Venezuelan oilsands output will 'quadruple' over next 24 years

In sharp contrast to the grim medium-term prognosis for the Canadian oilsands, Exxon Mobil Corp. is predicting sunnier times for bitumen in the decades ahead...

January 23, 2016

Magnetic Survey Keeps Cost Down

At a contaminated furniture factory site in North Carolina, a reconnaissance magnetic survey was conducted toward the end of a Phase 2 investigation ...

Using Software for Workflow Management

Alex Levitski

A lot has been written recently about the drastic changes taking place in the mineral exploration industry. Most of these changes are due to the fact that the exploration community has stumbled onto the proverbial “information super-highway”. The focus is shifting from data collection to working with data to achieve project outcomes. There already is a whole bunch of geo-data, of all kinds and shapes, accumulated in various archives and storages. The tricky part is finding these data, making them compatible with one another, and processing them in an effective and consistent way. The resulting data set guides you to your exploration targets. Not surprisingly, the geo-software market is flooded with tools that support this new approach: gridding applications such as Surfer, GIS such as ArcGIS and MapInfo, and highly specialized, power mapping systems such as Oasis montaj.

These data management applications enable you to harness the different types of data to achieve your goal. What about the different types of users? What, for example, will happen if you give a geoscientist several chunks of data in different formats and ask him or her to process these data? Given time and a proper set of tools, he or she will convert, sort, filter, and otherwise tweak the data, and finally present them to the world in a uniform format that will make perfect exploration sense – to this geoscientist. In all likelihood, this format will not make the same sense to any of his or her colleagues. On the other hand, if you give the same set of data to several different geoscientists, they will most probably re-process and use these data in totally different ways.

A direct consequence of the exploration community joining the IT-ruled world is division of responsibilities. Gone are the days when the same bearded geo-genius would plan a survey, do the field work, and then process the collected data and write a report. Today, surveys are planned by suit-and-tie office dwellers, field measurements are performed by designated field teams, and the data are processed by number-crunchers at a computer center. All the above individuals do not necessarily work in the same office and meet twice a day by the coffee machine. They might be (and often are) in the different cities, countries, and even time zones. They might not know each other personally. They might come from totally different educational and professional backgrounds. The only way to make the data flow from one team to the other consistent and efficient is to instill rigid processing rules – in other words, to use workflow management.

Several months ago, I was contracted by a North European exploration company to carry out a geophysical survey, and assist in a geochemical survey, at their gold-bearing concession in East Africa. In the concession region, gold is associated with disseminated sulphides hosted in quartz veins, which are located in certain rock types within the local metamorphic belt. Strategically, not a very complex task: magnetic measurements to delineate geological structures, then IP over the structurally promising areas to find the sulphide-rich zones, then soil and rock sampling for gold over the sulphides.

The real complexity was introduced by my customer’s organizational structure and by my position within it. I was stuck between the very old-school, methodical, “by-the-book” European management, and a vigorous, inexperienced, slightly fatalistic African field team. My duties included training the field team in the necessary data acquisition techniques, receiving and processing the field data in Toronto, and submitting reports and recommendations to the management.

The management’s approach to any task was “The rules must be observed. If the task takes a month instead of a week – so be it.” Conversely, the field team’s approach to the same task was “The job must be done before the end of the working day. If some rules get bent or broken in the process – so be it.” My approach – forged in Russia and hardened in Canada – is “The result must make sense and be ready by the deadline. If this means a sleepless night or two – so be it.” It was clear that, to bring all of us to a common denominator, we had to have a well-defined workflow. I ordered Geosoft’s Oasis montaj software and got busy building this workflow.

Oasis montaj offers a rich layer of features that can be used to define and instill workflows. Some of the features I used were:
  • Database and map templates – a template unambiguously defines how the data are imported, stored, processed, presented, and exported. If all the involved parties use the same template, you are not likely to be surprised by date/time values presented as integers in a database, or spend hours wondering why the Northern half of your site is shown in a map in ARC 1960, and the Southern half in WGS-84.

  • Sets of default values for databases, grids, maps, etc. – serve as a safety net for those operations and entities not covered by templates. If one group along the workflow chain introduces an exotic entity, such as multi-component 3D view, using default values, another group can easily decipher and reproduce that entity.

  • Quality control tool (for IP data) – helps quickly identify and analyze invalid or questionable field data. For example, one of the tricks IP might play is including negative potential values in the IP curve. The minus sign in these values is not apparent on the IP receiver screen. The montaj QC tool makes these values stand out.

  • “Locking” mechanism for database columns – prevents users from making inadvertent changes to the column values. This is a foolproof method to preserve the “vanilla” field data across the numerous interpretation procedures.

So far, the established workflow is doing its job – keeping everybody gainfully busy, and delivering results across the globe on time and with little need for explanations. The measure of success, as I see it, is the average number of weekly phone calls from one team to another – it is pretty close to zero. Hopefully, our workflow will hold when gold starts showing in the survey area and fun begins for real.