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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 10, 2015

AGU's First Ask Me Anything: Water Science and Management

AGU's first ever Reddit Ask Me Anything, features Dr. Alberto Montanari, editor in chief of Water Resources Research on 12 November, from 12:00-2:00 P.M. EST, via Reddit's r/science portal ...

November 5, 2015

Massive graphite discovery could be on the cards for NQ

Graphite is a mineral of immense potential and value - its purer forms sought out for use in mobile phone technologies and the batteries that power...

November 1, 2015

Australia's junior sector turns to crowdfunding

Australian junior miners have decided to battle the capital drought afflicting the sector by turning to the Internet to raise funds...

October 28, 2015

Saudi Arabia's mining sector to triple by 2030

Mining contribution to GDP to reach SR260 billion by 2030 and create more than 100,000 jobs for citizens ...

October 26, 2015

Grant enables pioneering research of vast river systems in Great Plains and Asia

It's hard to exaggerate the importance of rivers to sustaining life for animals and people...

October 16, 2015

INFOGRAPHIC: "Gold off to races?"

This week, gold made a significant technical breakthrough ...

October 15, 2015

BHP raising $6.5bn fresh sign of mining turnaround

The mining industry's big players are themselves slowly beginning to change tack...

October 7, 2015

Could rock formations along Alabama highways offer clues to climate change?

Making predictions about climate variability often means looking to the past to find trends...

October 2, 2015

Petrobras' pre-salt drilling confirms high quality oil potential in Carcará

The drilling of the third well in the Carcará area (Block BM-S-8) in the Santos Basin's ultra-deep waters...

October 1, 2015

Eni enters Mexico with the development of three oil fields offshore

Eni won with a 100% share a production sharing contract to appraise, develop and exploit the oil fields...

September 23, 2015

Frank Arnott Award honors exploration visionary

A new award named in honor of Frank Arnott, a visionary geophysicist from the United Kingdom, has been introduced to recognize innovation in visualizing and integrating exploration data.

September 21, 2015

300m-year-old volcanoes discovered near Mullingar

Geographically, Ireland is often likened to a saucer: upturned at its mountainous edges and flat...

September 17, 2015

True giants of mining: World's top 10 iron ore mines

The price of iron ore on Thursday turned positive amid new signs that China...

September 15, 2015

GIS and History: Using the Past to Inform the Present

Using the power of Geographic Information Systems to track trends in everything from...

June 26, 2015

Where Big Data Jobs Are In 2015 - Midyear Update

Professional, scientific and technical services, information (IT), and manufacturing are the three industries doing the most Big Data-related hiring as of June, 2015...

June 25, 2015

Coiled Tubing Drill Rig Modified for H Coil

Trials of a new Coiled Tubing Drill Rig are underway in Australia. These rigs use a continuous, flexible tube, rather than drill rods, for faster, safer drilling at just 50c per meter...

June 17, 2015

First gas production from L6-B in the Dutch North Sea

Wintershall is expanding its natural gas production in the Netherlands: the unmanned mini-platform L6-B has started to produce natural gas off the Dutch North Sea coast. The first so called "Minimum Facility”...

June 16, 2015

Worldwide water quality app hits the web

Former Copernicus Masters competition winner EOMAP has launched the first harmonised, high-resolution inland water quality monitoring service based on satellite data...

June 15, 2015

Results from hole AR-15-44b add substantial size to NexGen's rapidly developing Arrow zone

NexGen reported on assay results for angled hole AR-15-44b from the successful winter 2015 program at the Arrow zone on its 100% owned Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

Exploration and GIS: Closing the Productivity Gap

by Carmela Burns and Virginia Heffernan


Exploration and GIS

Geologists can now create and share their 3D models across Geosoft and ESRI ArcGIS environments.

Exploration software and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are essential for geologists searching for petroleum and mineral deposits. With discoveries harder to find, geoscientists are collecting more data than ever before and examining their findings with greater scrutiny.

The key to keeping the whole process efficient and focused is technology.

GIS and exploration software has come a long way in the past 10 years, especially visualization and 3-D modeling. But, until recently, the inability to work and share data between earth mapping software like Geosoft and ESRI’s ArcGIS application environments has left a gap for explorers.

As software developers on both sides of the gap begin to collaborate, technology and solutions are now evolving to allow geoscientists to share data easily between their mapping and GIS environments.

Geographic information systems have been used for 2-D mapping for decades; however, the limited ability of GIS to visualize below the earth's surface means exploration companies have had to resort to work-arounds. As a result, geoscientists tend to store their geological, geophysical and geochemical information in one database, and their surface spatial (GIS) data in another, with no efficient way of merging the two.

Although geoscientific data can be moved in and out of a GIS environment, doing so is time-consuming and can result in lost, changed or corrupted data.

For consulting geophysicists like Michal Ruder, whose livelihood depends on delivering accurate, up-to-date maps to clients in the oil and gas sector, recent advances in integrated GIS exploration tools mean smoother workflow and higher productivity in both 2D and 3D environments.

"Most of the time I work with gridded data, and I can manipulate it with ease using Geosoft exploration software, Oasis montaj and Target," says Ruder, who is principal of Denver-based Wintermoon Geotechnologies. "That's not the whole solution, though, because after I've processed the gridded data, I need to integrate it with vector data. That means putting my magnetic and gravity data into the geographic context of my exploration problem."

Exploration and GIS

Fence diagram generated using Geosoft's Target for ArcGIS extension software.

After moving the data into ESRI's ArcGIS, Ruder uses Geosoft extension software, Target for ArcGIS, to see geographic and other associations. She then searches for patterns in the Geosoft grids and ArcGIS vector data.

Geosoft is working to close the exploration GIS gap entirely with its recent introduction of earth mapping software that has ArcGIS Engine technologies built in. The new generation of Geosoft Target and Oasis montaj software allows geoscientists to work seamlessly between their Geosoft and ESRI environments using ESRI technology to display Arc.mxd and .lyr files without leaving the Geosoft environment.

The breakthrough is expected to boost productivity and result in smoother workflows for geoscientists in both the private and public sectors. It will also prevent data from being changed or lost.

"With this software, geoscientists have greater flexibility and control in achieving the results they need," says Louis Racic, Director of Product Management for Geosoft Inc.

Closing the gap between GIS and geoscience also benefits large companies with multiple users and data sets. The more integrated their exploration software is, the less likelihood of costly mistakes or missed opportunities for discovery.

Ana Maria Gonçalves is information manager for the exploration and project development division of Brazil-based Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale), one of the largest mining companies in the world with 14 regional exploration offices. "As we become more global, being able to share information and expertise with other regions is increasingly important," says Gonçalves. "In the past, our exploration applications didn't connect with our GIS. We had to make all sorts of conversions, and with data sets such as geophysical grids, you can lose important information when you try to convert the data to other formats."

Exploration and GIS

There is better access to exploration tools, such as this 3D lithology selector, within ArcGIS.

Adopting Geosoft Target for ArcGIS has done away with the need for data conversion, says Gonçalves. "Using Target for ArcGIS, our geoscientists can work with their geophysical, geochemical and geological data within the ArcGIS environment much more quickly and effectively."

On a broader scale, trends in mineral exploration show there's a need for better integration of GIS and geosciences. Most ore deposits with a surface expression have already been found, so 3-D information from the subsurface - particularly geophysical data - is becoming the main pathfinder to discoveries.

Taking a tool known for excellent spatial analysis on a 2-D plane and integrating it with software that can handle multiple 3-D data sets from the subsurface makes the search for these deposits a whole lot easier. It's a development whose time has come.