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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

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...

Access to Online Survey Data Helps Explorers to Focus Their Exploration


Louis Racic

The days of dusting off assessment files and painstakingly piecing together disparate datasets to produce a compilation of an area's mineral potential are drawing to a close. Increasingly, government surveys – the storehouses of this type of information – are supplying instant access to data online, while earth globe viewers are providing the means to visualize it.

The result? Explorers are able to outline their targets more quickly and efficiently.

Geoscience BC, for example, has released airborne gamma-ray spectrometric and magnetic data for the Bonaparte Lake area of south-central British Columbia, a region considered long on mineral potential but short on information owing to a thick layer of glacial overburden and volcanic rocks that obscure the areas of economic interest.

The purpose of the geophysical survey was to see through that cover and measure radioactive signatures in the overburden. Once the data were released, anyone could download the dataset, the geology of the area, and a map of individual claim holdings, then, by overlaying the multiple layers, pinpoint the most prospective areas and make a decision to claim ground – all in a matter of hours.

Even claim staking, which used to entail sending a crew loaded down with claim posts into the bush, can now be done online in B.C. with a few clicks of the mouse.

"A lot of staking was under way when we announced we were flying the survey, so just the fact that we were doing it generated interest," says Lynn Anglin, president and CEO of Geoscience BC, a not-for-profit organization that collects, interprets and delivers geoscientific information, usually in partnership with governments and industry. "Since the release of the data, there has been additional staking, as well as deals made on the basis of that information (see Fig. 1). Small companies or prospectors who've been trying to get larger companies interested in their projects have been able to arrange joint ventures or sell their properties."

Candorado Operating Company Ltd., which helped fund the survey, has already applied for drilling permits based on the results. The area is prospective for a number of mineral deposit types, particularly copper porphyries.

The Bonaparte Lake release, a joint project of Geoscience BC, Natural Resources Canada and three junior companies, is the sort of shot in the arm private companies need: the data enable them to pinpoint prospective areas and reduce the time and money required to do so. Geoscientists who may once have spent weeks compiling assessment files and survey data from various sources, including the Internet, CDs and hard copy reports, can now (depending on the jurisdiction) go online and immediately produce a detailed map of a region's geology and potential.

Accessibility is enhanced by globe viewers such as Google Earth, NASA's World Wind, and Geosoft's Dapple, all of which can be downloaded from the Internet at no cost.

Dapple recently appeared on the landscape as a globe viewer designed for professional geoscientists. It is developed to work well with Web Map Servers (WMS), where much of the world's public sources of geoscientific data reside. The information available includes satellite imagery from NASA and Microsoft Virtual Earth, remote sensing data, geology maps, geophysical data, and many other earth data sets that can be saved and shared with colleagues. Geoscientists can view as much or as little data as they like and add new WMS servers to the viewer as needed.

When used in combination with internal data servers, Dapple allows users to integrate their own data with those in the public domain, creating a powerful tool for geoscientists who can often learn more about an exploration target by overlaying relevant data. Combining company-generated soil sampling results with government geophysical survey results, for example, could highlight coincident anomalies that might otherwise go unnoticed.

One of the most useful aspects of viewers like Dapple, says Mansour Shoari of De Beers Canada's Mineral Resource Management department, is that geoscientists can find many layers of primary data they need in a one-stop shop, instead of having to go to several different sites.

"Dapple helps us gather information to analyze a Canadian property," he says. "It reduces the time spent searching for the information and organizing the data. And because it's always up-to-date, you don't need to worry about the validity of the data."

But these are still early days. Not all government surveys are dedicated to the concept of providing data online, or have the resources to follow through, so the data available to the public remain spotty. Shoari, for instance, can get very little information for Russia, which is one of the places De Beers is exploring for diamonds, whereas information from Canada and Australia is abundant, as these countries have a tradition of providing public data to the industry, often free of charge.

Natural Resources Canada's Geoscience Data Repository (GDR) for Geophysical and Geochemical Data has grown immensely since first releasing national aeromagnetic compilation grids in early 2004. The entire Canadian Aeromagnetic Data Base, both profile and gridded data, is now available and integrated with metadata. Approximately 90% of the National Gamma-ray Spectrometry Data Base is similarly available. The Canadian Gravity Anomaly Data Base is also served as point and gridded datasets.

Having NRCan geophysical data available on-line and at no charge has increased their usage by geophysicists, geoscientists, and explorationists. Before the advent of the GDR, between 200 to 300 requests for data were processed annually. "Over 5,000 geophysical datasets are now downloaded annually through the GDR," says Warner Miles, head of the GSC's Regional Geophysics Section. "In addition to our legacy data, clients can access newly published data in active exploration camps the moment of publication.

Provincial governments are also providing information online, though it tends to be less comprehensive because the servers are not large enough to host all the data. The Bonaparte Lake data, for instance, is being promoted by Geoscience BC but is only available through Natural Resources Canada's GDR.

"We currently don't have the capacity to archive those huge volumes of data," concedes Anglin, though she says Geoscience BC plans to provide its own data online in the future.

"There are limitations in the public data," Shoari agrees. "Anything we want from Geological Survey of Canada we can get, because it has a public server with a direct DAP/Dapple connection. On the other hand, the Ontario Geological Survey or other regional branches of the government have a lot of good data, but they haven't made it easily accessible to globe viewers."

Early this year, the GDR upgraded its Geosoft DAP server technology to the latest release, and with the upgrade came new functionality for spatial, keyword and text-based searches for data layers and WMS services. "The web-browser interface, Oasis montaj, and Dapple interfaces to the DAP server provide our clients with a great access, visualization, and data integration tools, "says Miles. "They have introduced our databases to a much wider client base. This application helps us fulfill our mandate of making Canada more attractive for investment through the provision of basic resource exploration infrastructure data."

Will future discoveries be made by a geoscientist sitting at computer, picking and choosing from a comprehensive list of public and private datasets and integrating the information to provide new insights into a prospective area? As provincial, national and even international governments continue to strive make their valuable data instantly available on-line, the concept no longer belongs in the realm of science fiction.

Free download of Dapple globe viewer at dapple.geosoft.com.