Regional Scale Mineral Exploration Through Joint Inversion And Geology Differentiation Based On Multi-physics Geoscientific Data



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Modern mineral exploration focuses in underexplored regions where the terrain and geological environments make the discovery of mineral ore deposits increasingly difficult. Airborne geophysics is widely used in regional scale mineral exploration because it provides rapid collection of multiple types of geoscientific data over large areas. The availability of multi-physics data is potentially useful because the complementary information contained in the multiple data sets can be integrated into a common Earth model consistent with all available data and prior information. However, quantitative integration of multi-physics and regional scale airborne geophysical data is rarely reported in literature. The goal of this research is to develop a workflow for quantitative integration of airborne gravity and magnetic data for mineral exploration. I focus on two important components of the workflow: joint inversion and geology differentiation. Joint inversion allows density and susceptibility models to constrain each other at the inversion stage, resulting in structurally similar physical property models and enhanced correlations between inverted density and susceptibility values. Geology differentiation makes use of the jointly inverted physical property values and builds a 3D quasi-geology model that shows the spatial distribution of various geological units. Prior geological information from various sources are also used when performing geology differentiation. The proposed workflow is first tested on a synthetic data set before being applied to a set of airborne gravity and magnetic data in central British Columbia. I have successfully identified multiple geological units that are consistent with airborne geophysical data and prior geological information. I have also identified potential targets for future detailed geophysical surveys in an area that lies beneath a thick glacial sedimentary cover. My work provides guidance for follow-up detailed geophysical surveys in the study area and highlights the benefits of integrated interpretation of multi-physics geoscientific data. I am confident that the proposed workflow can be easily extended to the integration of other types of geoscientific data.



geophysics, geology, mineral exploration, inverse theory, joint inversions, geology differentiation, integrated imaging, integrated interpretation