8May

A new book co-authored by UWA Professor of Geophysics Mike Dentith looks set to become a valuable aid to mineral exploration.

Partly textbook, partly based on research, ‘Geophysics for the Mineral Exploration Geoscientist’ is about how geophysics is used in the search for mineral deposits.

It has been written with the needs of the mineral exploration geologist in mind and for the geophysicist requiring further information about data interpretation. Also for the mining engineer and other professionals, including managers, who have a need to understand geophysical techniques applied to mineral exploration.

Equally it is written students of geology, geophysics and engineering who plan to enter the mineral industry.

Co-authored with consultant exploration geophysicist Stephen T. Mudge of Vector Research, it has descriptions of all the commonly used geophysical methods, including gravity, magnetic, radiometric, electrical, electromagnetic and seismic methods and explains petrophysics, data modelling and common interpretation pitfalls.

It takes readers from the basic physical phenomena behind the different geophysical methods, through acquiring and processing data, to interpretation and the creation of geological models of the subsurface. 

The book is available in both hard copy and as an ebook. Supporting on-line resources include Appendices comprising explanations of vectors and waves and descriptions of geophysical methods less used by the mining industry and digital versions of all the figures.  A short course to go with the book is planned.

“The book explains modern practice in exploration and mining with emphasis on petrophysics and interpretation” said Professor Dentith. “Mining industry and government geoscientists are relying on geophysical data more and more. 

“Many lack experience and training in geophysics and, especially in smaller exploration companies, do not have in-house geophysical expertise.  We particularly wanted to write a book that would be useful to explorers so our emphasis on what geophysics can tell you about the area being explored (and what it cannot).” 

“So far the response to the book has been very encouraging. One mining company wants 25 copies”.

The book is sponsored by the Centre for Exploration Targeting and six mining companies: AngloGold  Ashanti, Carpentaria Exploration, First Quantum Minerals, MMG, Rio Tinto and St Barbara. 

Professor Dentith said: “There are numerous excellent books on petroleum geophysics and a lesser number on engineering and environmental geophysics but there is no recently published book specifically on geophysics as used by the mining industry. 

“This is partly because the mining market is smaller and it was only because of the sponsorship that we could produce the comprehensive full-colour book that was needed.

“We received an incredible amount of help from the mining geophysics community when writing the book. 

In addition to the sponsorship dollars more than 150 people and 20 organisations helped in some fashion; by allowing proprietary data to be included; by providing data, by re-processing data, by running example forward models and with general advice,” he said.

Sponsorship money remaining after the book was finished will be used to buy copies for free distribution to Universities and government geological surveys in developing countries.    

The publisher, Cambridge University Press, has agreed to a greatly reduced purchase price and around 170 books will be given away. 

Professor Dentith said: “We contacted the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Society of Economic Geologists and put out a call on the SEGMin email group and have received many suggestions. 

“We are now compiling a list. We particularly want to give the books to universities in Africa with significant teaching programmes in mineral exploration or mining geophysics.”

Professor Dentith’s research interests are predominantly in applied geophysics, in particular research relevant to the mining and petroleum industries. 

His mining industry-related research, carried out through the Centre for Exploration Targeting, includes understanding the geophysical responses of mineral deposits especially from a petrophysical/geological perspective; novel approaches to processing of magnetic and similar datasets; and using regional geophysical datasets from mineralised terrains as indicators of prospectivity. 

Petroleum-industry relevant research involves mostly the processing and interpretation of gravity, aeromagnetic and seismic reflection data.

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