Hype Over Hyperspectral
Remember when CSIRO developed high-speed wifi technology to solve time challenges in digital communication? Equipped with AuScope’s HyLogger hyperspectral equipment, Australian researchers are set to prove a comparable feat, in both nature and size, for improved Australian mineral exploration practices.
In July 2017, AuScope’s Australian National Virtual Core Library (NVCL) component leader, Dr. Carsten Laukamp communicated some impressive facts on HyLogger (quantitative mineral scanning) technology during a presentation at Brisbane’s Drilling for Geology II conference.
These include the semi-automatic collection of semi-quantitative mineralogical readings from drill core, with the processing capacity of 700m per day, and a staggering 55% reduced analysis cost when compared with whole rock geochemistry. Additionally, over 10,000km of historical drill core sourced nationally is available for interrogation to date, and a wealth of literature on locating mineral systems using HyLogger technology – a total of 12 research papers have been produced in the last few years, with more on the way.
For mineral researchers and explorers, this technology is a game-changer. Each year, the Australian exploration industry spends around $600 million on strategic drill programs to locate and define economic ore bodies and mineral systems (CSIRO, 2017). Subsequently, geologists assess kilometres of drill core, often spending weeks, months and possibly entire careers on the task. Though rarely is this qualitative data used throughout a mine’s life, and thus little predictive geological value is extracted from this cost-intensive process.
Using HyLogger technology, geologists can now collect mineralogical data quickly. The HyLogger data collected at the NVCL nodes, located at six of the Australian State and Territory Geological Surveys, are made available to the research and industry community via the AuScope Portal. This data is both numeric (mineralogical) and visual (core imagery).
It is important to note that the process of core logging will never be redundant, as physically examining rocks helps to build geological understanding and knowledge of correct analysis techniques to apply subsequently. Rather, the drill core mineralogical information derived from hyperspectral drill core scanning allows the geologists to identify large-scale compositional trends and better target sampling for subsequent geochemical, mineralogical and petrophysical analyses.
As time goes on, more and more historical and real-time data join the AuScope Portal database, stimulating exploration and facilitating more robust vectoring techniques that lead toward locating mineral deposits. As was the path to NVCL’s HyLogger technology achievement, collaborative technology development and data use between research and industry communities will be imperative in further meeting Australia’s mineral exploration challenges. For now, we can celebrate a great project milestone and Australia’s position as world-leading in combined acquisition and interpretation of drill core hyperspectral data.
AuScope’s NVCL component nodes operate the CSIRO-developed HyLogging systems (combining visible and infrared reflectance spectroscopy, robotics, materials-handling and automated mineralogical interpretation) at the drill core libraries of the respective State and Territory Geological Surveys.
If you are interested in visiting a facility, attending a workshop or exploring research opportunities, please get in touch with Carsten Laukamp at Carsten.Laukamp@csiro.au or geological survey NVCL representatives: