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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.

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News Archive

April 2, 2014

TGDG Mini-Symposium on Mexico Exploration

On April 9, the TGDG is presenting a mini-symposium on Mexico Exploration: Finding the Treasure of the Sierra Madre and more. A portion of this event is being broadcast online free of charge...

March 31, 2014

KEGS presentation on Neural Network Targeting

Featured KEGS presentations are now open for free online registration. The next presentation, scheduled for April 8, is on Supervised Neural Network Targeting and Classification Analysis for Mineral Exploration...

March 30, 2014

Top 10 mining events in northern Ontario history

A review of northern Ontario’s rich and vibrant mining history by Stan Sudal...

March 29, 2014

Predicting the condition of the ocean

New statistical models could lead to better predictions of ocean patterns and the impacts on weather, climate and ecosystem, MU scientist finds...

March 28, 2014

Top 5 Inversion Best Practices: Web Series

What are some of the most common, impactful things you can do to improve your 3D geophysical inversion models?...

March 26, 2014

Geosoft UXO Marine update delivers new functionality and improved workflow

Geosoft has released a software update for UXO Marine, adding new functionality and tools for conducting underwater site investigations with geophysics...

March 24, 2014

African Geology meetings in London, Houston - and Africa

Over the past twelve years, the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain and the Houston Geological Society have jointly established the premier global meeting devoted to Africa's petroleum geology...

March 13, 2014

Recent investigations of geophysics abilities in aquifer mapping and resource evaluation

During the last several years Geological Survey of Canada has been investigating geophysical methods potential, particularly airborne electromagntics, for mapping and resource evaluation of buried valleys...

December 12, 2013

Heading south for the winter

Thirteen earth science students from Carleton University will spend this winter break in an unusual classroom: the waters and shores of Antarctica...

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.