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Earth Explorer is an online source of news, expertise and applied knowledge for resource explorers and earth scientists.
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March 12, 2013
On Tuesday March 26, 2013 the TGDG will host a selection of speakers for a mini-symposium at Hart House on ‘Laterites or Laterwrongs: Making the Pieces Fit’. Speakers include Ravi Anand (CSIRO), Peter Winterbourne (Vale), and Ron Schonewille (Xstrata)...
March 11, 2013
Hailing from industry, government and academia, high profile Australian and internationally-based researchers will join the CET fortnightly to share their experience on a wide variety of geoscience topics.These seminars are FREE and all interested Geologists are welcome to attend...
February 25, 2013Is regulation robbing exploration properties of their worth?
You can’t get chickens if you don’t allow the eggs to develop. Joe Hinzer, president of geological consulting firm Watts, Griffiths and McOuat (WGM), uses this analogy to illustrate how many early-stage exploration projects are being stifled by current mineral valuation regulations before they have a shot at becoming mines...
February 04, 2013
It has been a busy 24 hours as the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) kicked off its Mineral Exploration Roundup 2013...
January 29, 2013Where do I meet the geologists of Africa?
Africa is more than 20 per cent of the world’s land area, is home to 15 per cent of human population but still earns its label as the Dark Continent through generating only 2 per cent of the world’s electricity. Where can you find the geologists exploring this sleeping giant with its inevitable future in the resources sector?
January 28, 2013
As exploration programs focus on remote and concealed targets, the ability to recognize large ore-forming systems – from the most distal margins to high-grade cores – becomes increasingly important. Efforts are therefore under way to generate sophisticated “footprint” or “signature” models of high-value deposits.
December 2, 2012
The December 4th Greenland Day, taking place in Perth, will feature industry and geoscience experts from across the globe, discussing Greenland’s burgeoning exploration opportunities and recent research advances...
November 1, 2012
Some of the sector's leading minds will be looking into their crystal balls on November 8th, trying to summon a picture of what the future might hold for exploration and mining in Canada...
September 11, 2012
Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, said Tuesday that it had started oil production at the Baleia Azul presalt field in the offshore Campos Basin...
September 11, 2012
Barrick Gold CEO Jamie Sokalsky speaks with Carl Quintanilla on CNBC about Barrick's strategy to drive shareholder value...
September 10, 2012
The tie between energy supply, population, and the economy goes back to the hunter-gatherer period...
July 12, 2012
A massive two thirds of Western Australia remains unexplored for minerals and geologists say the territory presents huge potential...
July 12, 2012
Shale and other unconventional resources are being called the biggest game changer in a generation - and as land and other costs escalate, the industry continues to apply lessons gleaned from the early successes...
July 11, 2012
In this exclusive interview with Professor David Thiel, Director at the Centre for Wireless Monitoring and Applications at Griffith University, he discusses how electromagnetic geophysics can help those who are conducting a feasibility study and opens up on the real cost benefits of this technology...
July 11, 2012
Improved security has started to open up new areas for mineral exploration in Latin America....
Almost 40 years after one of America's most famous mass murders, a second weapon is detected and recovered with marine geophysics.
by Graham Chandler on June 4, 2012 applied
It was the perfect horror classic. With stars like Rod Steiger, James Brolin and Margot Kidder, and driven by the horrific true murder story behind it, 1979’s The Amityville Horror was just one of a series of blockbusters, most of them based on the subsequent haunting of the house where it all happened. But of the original 1974 crime investigation by New York’s Suffolk County police department, one thing was missing—a second murder weapon.
Now thanks to some sleuthing by documentary producer Ryan Katzenbach and a detailed underwater electromagnetic survey conducted by US-based Aqua Survey Inc, it has surfaced, quite literally.
Katzenbach is producing a three-part feature series entitled Shattered Hopes, about the murders to which Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. confessed the day after. The official story is that he acted alone, in a heroin- and alcohol-fuelled rage, in killing six members of his family in their beds with just a .35-caliber Marlin rifle. Methodically, starting with his abusive father. But other versions of the story are much more complicated: it was hypothesized by some that Butch acted along with his sister Dawn—who was shot by Butch the same night. For this to happen there must have been another murder weapon. And supporting that theory, among some discarded evidence found nearby was a handgun holster. But no handgun.
According to a feature story by writer Seth Porges that appeared in the May 2012 issue of Maxim magazine, during his research of (heavily redacted) police files and reports of the original investigation Katzenbach had learned of ballistic and other evidence that strongly suggested a .38-caliber handgun had been involved too. If so, Katzenbach theorized the gun may have been thrown into the canal that fronts the now-famous house.
But how to find it? Katzenbach engaged the services of Aqua Survey, to undertake an electromagnetic survey of the canal. Aqua Survey had the requisite skills. Their work, and expertise in ecotoxicology and marine geophysics, has taken them everywhere from Cleopatra’s Palace off Alexandria, Egypt, to the Bahamas, where they have helped hunt for sunken treasures.
To narrow the search area and keep costs to a minimum, they combined proven geophysical techniques with some deductive reasoning. Aqua Survey owner and founder Ken Hayes explains their approach: “First, we took chunks of asphalt that weighed the same as a .38 handgun andpitched them into the canal. Then we added about 25 feet, reasoning that the kid was on heroin and had just killed six people, so there was a strong likelihood he had greater strength.”
That focused the search area down to about 125 feet directly out from the bulkhead and approximately 200 to 300 feet in length. Towing an electromagnetic time domain detection system behind their boat, they then began the pattern. “Our survey lanes were one metre wide,” says Hayes. “We used a DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System), survey-grade GPS, setup for navigation and tracking control and, as they say in the business, ‘mowed the lawn’. ”The survey took less than five hours.
Next, Aqua Survey geophysicists performed an advanced computer analysis on the targets in order to distinguish and prioritize them. Different filters were applied to the data using Geosoft montaj UX- Detect, says Hayes. They ended up with over 317 metallic targets, so had to winnow them down. “We could guess how thick the mud was there,” says Hayes. So they took an actual handgun of similar size and weight, and scanned it from incremental distances starting at one foot to see what a handgun signature would roughly look like at various depths under the muck. From that, “we narrowed the potential targets down to a probable ten,” he says, “using the analysis and filtering tools in UX-Detect.”
“We were able to eliminate a whole lot of signatures to prioritize the ten,” says Hayes. To accurately zero in on those so divers could locate a suspected item, they made their own electromagnetic probe. “We used it in real time,” says Hayes. “With it we went out with our precision GPS and got onto the location. We were in about eight feet of water and we knew the mud was four, maybe five, feet deep.” On each location they would push the EM probe into the sediment until the target was reacquired, because they could see the EM signatures on their computers, on the boat, in real time. “Then we put the probe right on the target—we knew when we were touching it—and the diving team would excavate right down the probe pole. On just the third dig-out the diver came up with a glob of mud; it was obviously metal by its weight. “We washed it off, and the chamber and part of the barrel were missing, but it was clearly a top-break snub-nose,” says Hayes.
There could be grounds for skepticism admits Hayes, but he’s confident with their role in the discovery. “Do we know it was the gun used in the commission of the crime?” he questions. “We don’t, but from all the evidence this is where it was. We know the diver didn’t plant it, and I know my guys didn’t. While we considered that the producer might be pushing for sensationalism, it’s cost him money to fund the survey with no guarantee of results.”
When the recovery team came up with the handgun, they had it for all of about 20 minutes. “The Crime Scene Investigation people watched our every move,” says Hayes “and it was promptly put into an evidence bag and taken away by the Suffolk County Police Department.”
In the end, it was another experience for Aqua Survey to add to their portfolio of geoscience detective work, and Hayes believes the producer got what he wanted: “All of a sudden it’s no longer just a movie, it’s a sensational movie.”