National Virtual Core Library (NVCL)

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The NVCL Component created new globally unique hardware and software infrastructure for the voluminous mineralogical scanning of archived drill cores around the Australian continent. Its purpose was to improve the understanding of the geological composition of the top two kilometres of the continent’s crust. Seven CSIRO-developed HyLogging systems (combining visible and infrared reflectance spectroscopy, robotics, materials-handling and automated mineralogical interpretation) were installed in each of the State and Territory geological surveys and are operated by survey staff to build internal and web-accessible databases for public interrogation to facilitate research. The HyLoggers were initially configured for oxide and hydrous silicate mineral characterisation (HyLogger-2s) and were then upgraded during a second phase to include anhydrous silicates (HyLogger-3s).

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The HyLoggers are supported by Australian-developed software known as TGS-Core (www.thespectralgeologist.com) for the processing, analysis, visualisation and generation of information products comprising a part of the knowledge infrastructure and the basis of the ensuing research. Virtual semi-quantitative descriptions (geocoded digital tables, graphs and multiple resolution images) of the mineralogical composition of drill cores and drill chips will be stored in web-accessible relational databases. Copies of the processed TSG drill-hole files will also be available upon application to each Survey NVCL custodian. A demonstration web site is available at www.nvcl.csiro.au.

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Example of a mineralogical log derived from the HyLogging process for drill hole MJ021 from Mt Julia, Tasmania. Plot shows the proportion of the specified mineral samples per 2 metre interval.

Using the Hyloggers, in excess of 690,000 metres of drill core from over a 2,340 drill holes has been scanned to date across the seven Survey jurisdictions and the data made available through the AuScope project. The infrastructure has been successfully deployed and is being used operationally and routinely in all survey jurisdictions resulting in new geological knowledge that is being documented and used by each survey, industry and researchers.

Following successful establishment of the infrastructure, six geological surveys have continued to fund the maintenance and operations of the NVCL infrastructure, publish results, and train staff with support from the CSIRO. This contribution from jurisdictions is significant because the infrastructure is a new innovation system and each NVCL node requires on average 2.5 people for the operation of the equipment; instrument operators, interpreting geologists, IT specialists and managers. The total cost of these operations in 2012/13 averaged $286,000 per Survey per annum and $1,757,000 across all Surveys per annum. As the value of more detailed geological knowledge from drilling accrues both within the Geological Surveys and externally, the number of second generation users is increasing, including the number of student projects. The deployment of the unique thermal infrared, anhydrous mineral capability towards the end of the project has, in particular, continued to lead to new research outcomes, opportunities and take-up.

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Future Usage

The uniqueness of AuScope NVCL hardware and software infrastructure, coupled with the exposure afforded by seven distributed operating nodes around the continent, has drawn considerable interest from overseas and the private sector.

The systems are supported and operated by the State Geological Surveys with some support from CSIRO and will continue to build and develop the data infrastructure over time. Nevertheless the currently available resources are not entirely sufficient to build the online content for NVCL, which is reliant on retrieving and scanning a very considerable backlog of archived drill core.

For more information on current and potential projects or accessing AuScopes National Virtual Core Library infrastructure component please contact the Program Director.

Meritorious student projects utilising the infrastructure, or the collected data, are strongly encouraged.

Program Director – Dr Rob Woodcock

State NVCL Node Contacts

NSW – David Tilley

Queensland – Suraj Gopalakrishnan

Western Australia – Lena Hancock

South Australia – Alan Mauger

Tasmania – David Green

Northern Territory – Belinda Smith

Victoria – Paul McDonald