Determining reserves of aggregates by non-invasive electrical tomography (DRAGNET) : MIST project MA/6/1/008

Chambers, J.E.; Wilkinson, P.B.; Weller, A.L.; Aumonier, J.; Ogilvy, R.D.; Williams, J.D.O.; Meldrum, P.I.; Kuras, O.. 2008 Determining reserves of aggregates by non-invasive electrical tomography (DRAGNET) : MIST project MA/6/1/008. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 54pp. (CR/08/040N) (Unpublished)

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Three-dimensional electrical resistivity tomography (3D ERT) is a geophysical imaging technique that has developed rapidly in recent years. The great strength of the technique is that it is a relatively low cost non-invasive method of providing high-resolution spatial information that reveals the structure of the subsurface. Despite its obvious suitability, 3D ERT has not yet been applied by the minerals industry to the investigation of sand and gravel deposits. The DRAGNET project was therefore established to begin the process of researching and developing 3D ERT for sand and gravel reserve assessment. More specifically, we have demonstrated the technique at UK extraction sites, we have sought to establish procedures to integrate 3D ERT with conventional investigation methods, we have developed best practice guidance for the future use of the technique in this area, and we have begun to consider the economics of the 3D ERT for minerals surveys. The DRAGNET demonstration studies were carried out at Marfield Quarry, North Yorkshire, and Bull’s Lodge Quarry, Essex. These sites were selected due to their challenging geologies. The Marfield Quarry site comprised extremely coarse gravels, which have proved to be nearly impossible to drill, whilst the Bull’s Lodge test area had overburden to mineral thickness ratios of as much as 2:1, with in excess of 10 m of till overburden. Integrated models were generated for both sites to demonstrate our methodology for 3D data fusion, visualisation and interpretation using combined 3D ERT and conventional data sets. The 3D ERT model of the Marfield Quarry site was used to identify the distribution of overburden, depth to bedrock and quality variations within the gravels. Operationally relevant information derived from the Marfield 3D ERT model was presented in a form that could be directly used by minerals industry geologists for reserve calculations. The Bull’s Lodge 3D ERT model successfully defined the overburden, but was not able to resolve the base of the mineral. The failure of ERT in this case was due to the unfavourable overburden to mineral ration, and the very low resistivity of the till, and highlights the limitations of the technique. Synthetic modelling studies carried out as part of this project were used to determine the range of overburden to mineral rations over which 3D ERT would be successful, and to trial a new survey strategy that has the potential to resolve thin mineral layers buried beneath thick overburden. The results from the synthetic modelling and the case studies represent an invaluable resource with which to inform the planning of future minerals surveys, and have provided a foundation on which to begin developing best practice guidance. The key elements of our best practice guidance for 3D ERT mineral reserve assessment surveys are as follows: (1) Overview of ERT; (2) Limitations of ERT; (3) Survey planning and design (including array type, vertical and lateral resolution); (4) Data collection; (5) Data processing and interpretation (including inversion and visualisation); (6) Data quality assessment; (7) Case studies. Based on our experience during the project, and other published sources, we assess the likely cost benefits of applying 3D ERT to sand and gravel investigations. Due to the limited scope and resources available to us this assessment is necessarily qualitative. We consider the relative costs of ERT (particularly compared to drilling), its effectiveness for sand and gravel deposit investigations, and the added value that it can provide to site operators. It is probable that 3D ERT will be most suited both to the investigation of complex deposits with significant lateral heterogeneity, and those sites that are difficult to drill. In such situations 3D ERT can be used to reveal the structure of the deposit between intrusive sample points, it can provide targets for drilling, and can potentially reduce the number of intrusive sample points required.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2009 > Spatial Geoscience Technologies
Funders/Sponsors: NERC
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer reviewed
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 26 Nov 2009 11:46 +0 (UTC)

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