AuScope virtual core library helps mineral discovery

Drill Core from old drill holes is potentially one of the greatest assets to Australian mineral explorers in the search for new deposits. With an estimated eight million metres of core scattered around the country in warehouses, accessing new data from historical drill core has been a slow and laborious process.

AuScope revolutionised the process by creating the National Virtual Core Library (NVCL). The NVCL was first contemplated nearly a decade ago during the development an automated core analysis machine known as the HyLogger. The CSIRO developed tool is a robotic spectrometer that records a huge variety of data about the cores physical properties.

The HyLogger can scan metre length pieces of core in 30 seconds and then converts data into information about the types of minerals at every measured point.

AuScope built on this innovation through funding and partnering with CSIRO and State and Territory geological surveys in the?creation of the NVCL. The project aims to scan most of Australias historical drill core and make it accessible anywhere in the world on a personal computer via the AuScope Grid.

The geological surveys have been eager participants in building the NVCL because of the capability HyLoggers have to generate new geological insights and opportunities for further investment from the exploration sector.

South Australia’s Geological Survey has been one of the most active participants. It has already scanned 188,000 metres or about one third of the states catalogue of open-file drill core.

Dr Alan Mauger, the project leader of the NVCL in South Australia, said the state began by scanning a number of signature holes in major mineral provinces, and quickly added more information from surrounding areas.

Our focus has been on parts of the state where we are trying to improve prospectivity. We also put a priority on new holes that have been partly funded by government under the Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE).

He said there had been a lot of interest from the exploration industry for drill holes related to Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold (IOCG)-type deposits such as Olympic Dam thanks to research conducted by the geological survey using the NVCL.

We found that hyperspectral data from white mica can point the way to increasing alteration associated with IOCG deposits, so that’s a new exploration tool made possible by the virtual core library.

We are also finding new applications with the NVCL data that promises to help in the search for epithermal silver and perhaps even porphyry copper deposits which may lead to the next major discovery in Australia.

Caption: Using the Hyloggers in excess of 690,000 metres of drill core, from over 2,340 drill holes, has been scanned across the seven State and Territory geological surveys across the country, and the data made available through the AuScope project.

Case Study : Mineral discovery

Category: National Virtual Core Library