Undercover mineral exploration is a challenging task as it requires understanding of subsurface geology by heavily relying on remotely sensed (i.e. geophysical) data. In order to increase the chances of success, cost-effective exploration is essential. This requires effective decision making in both selecting the optimum data collection methods and accuracy in the subsequent interpretation. Traditionally, developing the skills, behaviour and practices of exploration decision making requires multi-year experience through working on exploration projects under various geological settings, commodities and levels of available resources. This implies long periods of sub-optimal exploration decision making, prior to this experience being successfully obtained.
To address this critical industry issue, we are developing the unique and novel e-learning environment, the CET Exploration Simulator - exSim, which simulates exploration scenarios where users can test their strategies and learn the consequences of their choices. This simulator provides an engaging platform for self-learning and experimentation in exploration decision strategies, providing a means to build experience more effectively. The exSim environment also provides a unique platform on which numerous scenarios and situations (e.g. deposit styles) can be simulated, potentially allowing the user to become virtually familiarised with a broader scope of exploration practices.
Harnessing the power of computer simulation, visualisation and an intuitive graphical user interface, the simulator provides a way to assess the user’s exploration decisions and subsequent interpretations. Below are some videos of the prototype functionalities in exSim including: interactive geophysical data acquisition, follow-up drill testing, multi-dataset visualisation, and interpretation annotation tools.
Interactive Data Acquisition
Interactive data acquisition is controlled through using various surveys, such as geophysical surveys, with airborne and ground modes. The movie below demonstrates interactive survey design and acquisition of magnetic data.
Drill Test Simulation
Simulated drill tests are visualised with the 3D display of drill core results. The movie below shows an example of drill test design and visualisation of the resulting cores.
Novel data visualisation tools involving multiple datasets allow effective pattern synthesis. The movie below demonstrates an image blending tool that allows the visualisation of magnetic and gravity data over multiple frequency scales. As the cursor is moved from right to left, the image blends from magnetic to gravity data. As the cursor is moved up and down, the scale of analysis of the blended images is also changed.
Interpretation Annotation Tool
The movie below demonstrates a tool that allows for the annotation of structural interpretation. Note that the Discovery Path Optimiser will allow the import and export of commonly used GIS data formats to ensure that interpretations can be done outside this platform.