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 ...

Currents, Bombs, and ROVs: Bibby HydroMap Surveys British Waters

by DAN ZLOTNIKOV on February 2, 2016 expertise

[Click to enlarge]

The scale of wind farm projects in the UK will require the surveying of vast areas of ocean. Recent projects have produced 8,000 -10,000 line kilometres of magnetic survey data. Shown above: Satellite image of the Thames Estuary with London Array (the largest offshore wind farm in the world) and neighbouring wind farm areas from NASA.

[Click to enlarge]

Prior to construction wind farm project sites must be examined for unexploded ordnance (UXO). Shown above: A scan of the seafloor map, generated by Bibby HydroMap, shows possible UXO targets at the Humber Gateway wind farm site.

The d’ROP is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) developed by Bibby HydroMap (formerly Osiris Projects). Shown above: The Bibby Athena crew inspects the d'ROP and winch prior to departure. 

[Click to enlarge]

[Click to enlarge]

Marine UXO investigations also support subsea pipeline and cable survey projects. Top: Map shows several dipolar targets marking possible UXO and a cable crossing in the lower left. Bottom: Map shows several dipolar targets and a pipeline crossing in the middle of the image. Images provided by Bibby HydroMap.

When it comes to non-conventional renewable energy, the British Isles are a world leader. Consider the current boom in offshore wind farm projects fueled by the UK’s strong coastal winds. To extract energy from the wind, enormous turbine towers are built based on a detailed understanding of the seabed at proposed sites. It’s little wonder, then, that companies like Bibby HydroMap are seeing a growth in demand for undersea surveys.

Heather Carrigher, Marketing Manager at the Wirral-based company, notes that wind farm planners require multiple surveys of a site, both before construction and then at various points afterwards. Initially a broad geophysical survey is carried out, followed by more detailed work to determine the best possible positions for turbines. In fact, the survey company is typically involved throughout the entire life of a wind farm, right up to decommissioning, says Carrigher.

Prior to construction, however, project sites must be examined for unexploded ordnance (UXO). Even already-built facilities may require follow-up UXO surveys, as parts of the British coastline experience strong current, storms and tides that can move or uncover previously buried threats.

Some of the threats Bibby HydroMap looks for are relatively small and date back to the Second World War, such as 50-kg bombs and even 6.5-inch artillery shells. At the other end of the scale are devices that can do enormous damage: Survey vessels have found bombs as big as 1,000 pounds, which can remain hazardous even after more than 70 years in the ocean. If a piling boat were accidentally to drive a pile on top of a hidden bomb, the impact could trigger a detonation big enough to destroy the boat.

Time is money when it comes to subsea survey work as each project requires at least one specialized vessel. The size of the area to be surveyed is important, of course, but so is the level of granularity required. When a lower resolution is acceptable, the survey line spacing can be increased, lowering the overall number of line kilometres of data collected and reducing the cost to the client. The savings can be significant considering the large size of some of the sites surveyed, Carrigher points out.

The UK is already home to the world’s biggest offshore wind farm - the 630-megawatt London Array. In the third and latest round of site allocations planning approval has been granted to projects that are much larger. The installed power of some of these sites is 2,400 MW.

The scale of these projects will require the surveying of vast areas of ocean, and recent projects have produced 8,000 -10,000 line kilometres of magnetic survey data.

The company relied on spreadsheets and struggled with the massive volume of data before switching to Geosoft’s Oasis montaj and UXO software, recalls Caroline Tweedle, Bibby HydroMap’s senior geophysicist.

According to Tweedle, “the biggest advantage of the Geosoft software is the sheer volume of data it can handle, and how easily you’re able to process the data. It’s very fast, and you can get some nice preliminary results out very quickly.” Speed is of the essence when the on-site team is planning the next day’s work and needs to know about current survey coverage, areas that need to have additional data collected or infill, and so on.

Tweedle also notes that Bibby HydroMap has been working closely with Geosoft staff on fine-tuning the application, and the company has been quick to respond to feedback.  

“Everybody has their own workflows, file types they work with and internal deliverables. Geosoft has welcomed our feedback and we’ve already seen some positive results with improvements rolled out in recent versions.”

Bibby HydroMap’s workflow improvements are not limited to its use of software: Tweedle points to the d’ROP, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) developed by the company. The d’ROP differs from other ROV designs in that it is lowered on a heave-compensated winch from a surface vessel. The ship controls the ROV’s depth and tows it forward, which leaves the onboard propellers to manage fine course corrections. The result is a platform capable of carrying a variety of sensors that can get close to the survey target (such as a pipeline) and stay on course even in difficult conditions. Also, the d’ROP was designed smaller than other ROVs since there is almost no need to expend power on propulsion.

“We can work in strong tidal conditions, shallow water, and with a much smaller boat than you'd usually have,” says Tweedle, adding that, again, the wind farm operator can save a lot of money as a result.

The d’ROP was designed to survey buried cables in shallow waters – something the previously used systems had difficulty doing.  Buried cables require that the sensors are operated close to the seabed, which can be challenging for some systems in strong tidal conditions. The d’ROP will be in demand in the coming years: in Britain alone, planning permission has been granted for 15.8 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity. “Enquiries continue to grow year on year,” says Carrigher.

The work isn’t limited to British waters: Bibby HydroMap has done work in areas as far away as Sweden and Lithuania. Nor is the company’s work restricted to wind power. Surveys are under way for Port Meridian Energy, mapping out the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline between the deepwater port and the shore facilities. Other industries served include subsea telecoms and power cables, ports and harbours, marine aggregates and civil hydrography programs.

Bibby HydroMap was founded in 1997 as Osiris Projects. It was acquired by the Bibby Line Group in 2012, and has since continued to grow both its workforce and fleet, employing 115 personnel and operating 5 specialist survey vessels.

Innovations in renewable and clean energy will doubtless continue to power Europe’s demand for offshore projects. These in turn will drive innovations in everything from surveys to construction techniques. If service providers are to keep abreast of growing demand, they too will have to keep innovating and improving their offerings.

Judging by its track record, Bibby HydroMap is well positioned to do just that.

View all articles »