Remote Talk: Applications of Seismic Methods as a Tool for Mine Planning and Uranium Exploration
Application of seismic techniques have become more common in uranium exploration in the Athabasca Basin over the last decade and have been highlighted by a number of challenges, failures, and successes. In total, Cameco has completed 15 separate seismic programs, and has integrated them with a number of other geophysical datasets including DC resistivity and gravity for the purpose of later stage exploration and geotechnical studies related to mine development.
High grade uranium deposits within the basin have a very small footprint when compared to other base metal deposits, and to add to the challenge of discovery, these deposits are not directly detectable by geophysical methods when under cover.
Traditional geophysical exploration for unconformity uranium deposits utilizes electromagnetics (EM), magnetics, DC resistivity, and gravity and through the interpretation of these datasets we infer the presence of ideal geology, alteration, and structure. Of these, EM is considered the “bread and butter” method; however, all of these methods suffer from a decrease in resolution with increasing distance to source. The small size of these deposits coupled with an increasing depth of exploration makes deeper penetrating geophysical techniques that preserve resolution with depth sought after to assist in solving some of the geological and geotechnical challenges associated with this geological setting.
Depending on the design parameters, seismic methods have the ability to map in detail the main uranium exploration targets including: the glacial overburden, unconformity topography, post-Athabasca faults, and potential hydrothermal alteration zones to provide information for exploration and engineering related geotechnical challenges. In addition to the technical specifications, an often overlooked piece to ensuring success of these programs is the management of expectations. There needs to be an understanding regarding the turnaround rate for results which is not always going to be instantaneous. In addition, clear communication as to what may be achieved and the resolutions it will be achieved at is critical, particularly when the end user is not a technical expert. Finally, sufficient additional information will always improve the accuracy of an interpretation, especially in hard-rock environments where coherent horizontal reflections are the anomaly rather than the norm.
This talk is not intended to be a technical review of these methods, but rather a discussion of various geotechnical challenges and the seismic techniques that have been applied to attempt to address them within the eastern Athabasca Basin.
Speaker: Clare O'Dowd
Sr. Geophysicist, Cameco Corporation
Clare graduated from Carleton University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in hard-rock geology. Her honors thesis is titled: Petrographic and Geochemical Study of the Alteration Zones Associated with the Louvicourt VMS Deposit, Louvicourt, Quebec, Canada
From there, she was exposed to the realm of geophysics when she started working for Geoterrex, later Fugro Airborne Surveys as a data processer and then as a Jr. Geophysicist.
In 2002 Clare expanded her understanding of geophysical processing, inversion, and interpretation by attending the University of Western Ontario where she completed her Master’s degree in geophysics, under the supervision of David Eaton. Her thesis titled: An integrated geophysical study of the Grenville orogen beneath the Greater Toronto Area, this research focused on the processing and interpretation of lithoprobe seismic data integrated with aeromagnetic and gravity inversions.
Upon completion of her master’s thesis, Clare began working at Cameco as a project geophysicist, where she developed a strong understanding of 3D modelling, and the application of electromagnetics, DC resistivity, and seismic techniques in the Athabasca Basin, Canada.
Over the past 14 years Clare has advanced to Sr. Geophysicist and has branched out from project geophysics into strategic operational activities. She has undertaken regional geoscientific research, and in 2015, obtained her Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma through the Juran Institute. Most recently Clare has expanded her focus to include geochemical analysis.
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