Multiple total field 3-D DC resistivity mapping

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 1058, 2002
G. Shore, Premier Geophysics Inc., Langley, British Columbia
Abstract The development of a DC resistivity instrumentation system for data acquisition in extreme topography yielded an unexpected bonus in the quality and information content of the type of raw data gathered. Not only were traditionally too-rough areas being investigated systematically for the first time, the unique high-density, multi-directional raw data were providing the opportunity to greatly expand the range of conductive and resistive signatures that could be accurately recognized. Using a true 3-D inversion algorithm, 3-D earth resistivity imagery began to show distinctive anomaly patterns for hydrothermal mineralization at the seldom-visited resistive end of the spectrum, successfully imaging epithermal gold systems in conditions that had defied conventional ground and airborne geophysics for years.

The traditional mode of designing a resistivity survey to test a specific target concept was shown to be an unnecessary limitation on exploration thinking when a single sweep acquisition of dense, multi-directional 3-D raw data could effectively provide the all-targets “shotgun” coverage that would take 10 or 12 conventional surveys to duplicate. Exploration planning has the opportunity to move from single steps of trial and error geophysical testing to a mode of mapping everything at the outset, and then sorting out what might be of exploration interest in the results. Survey parameterization becomes the non-technical process of marking an outline on a map and declaring “survey here.” Operational and interpretational reasons for not testing where the exploration interest lies have all but disappeared. With any-terrain capabilities and unprecedented raw data density and overlap to support interpretation of complex conditions, that outline can be drawn through extreme rough terrain, including lakes, cliffs, industrial facilities, and grounded installations to test for generally unknown sub-surface features of potential interest.

As more is learned about the larger-scale signatures of ore settings and the district-scale geo-electric imprint of hydrothermal processes on lithology, it appears that the only thing certain about ore signatures is their uncertainty. This is not bad news. New opportunities abound as the advanced 3-D technology allows a first effective look at the previously unexplorable rough terrain or complicated settings, and a second look at areas where older results may now be known to be non-definitive.
Keywords: Resistivity mapping, Inversion, 3-D, Imaging resources, Resource settings, Exploration, Geophysics.
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