Data integration in mineral exploration: the example of SEEBASE = Structurally Enhanced view of Economic Basement

CIM Montreal 2003
Sally Goodman, Chris Lee, Jean-Francois Couture, Tom Loutit et al.,
Abstract Successful exploration for and exploitation of a mineral deposit requires an accurate understanding of the deposit architecture in 3D, and of the development of the mineralizing system through time. Key to this understanding is comprehension of the structural framework of the deposit, and this is the case not only for mineralization which is clearly structurally controlled (such as vein-hosted deposits), but also for those with more cryptic structural control. An example of this second case would be deposits hosted in sedimentary rocks, where prospectivity of the host horizon is ultimately a reflection of basement development.

The integration of geological, geophysical and geochemical datasets to arrive at a 4D structural framework is well-established and has been successfully applied by SRK Consulting in projects from deposit to regional scale.In some cases we can go beyond this, applying the SEEBASE technique, which utlizes a "bottom up" approach to basin analysis. It is based on the premise that basin architecture is fundamentally controlled by the mechanical behaviour of its basement platform during tectonism, and that, by understanding the plate-scale kinematic event history of that platform, an interpretation of the basin's 4D structural evolution can be mapped. SRK's approach primarily relies on the interptretation of magnetic and gravity data, calibrated with many other datasets including mapped geology, topography, event histories, wells/drillholes and seismic data.

The SEEBASE model is a culmination of this data integration and is produced through an iterative process of structural interpretation and geophysical modelling, where an interpretation of basement composition and 4D structure is used to constrain depth-to-basement geophysical modelling, and the modelled depths are then used in conjunction with the structural interpretation to constrain contouring of the basement topography. The result is a rigorously calibrated, 3D view of the basement surface, which can be used to understand the basement and basin architecture, and thus serves as a predictive exploration model. This technique, which was developed for use in the petroleum industry, is now finding success as a predictive tool in mineral exploration.

Keywords: Structure, Geophysics, basement, basin, Exploration
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