Modelling research to fill the geological data gap

Feb 04, 2014 by Tony Malkovic
Modelling research to fill the geological data gap
The work is expected to help discover new mineral deposits in WA, but the technique isn’t just limited to mining. Credit: Paul Reid 

Mark Jessell has travelled half way around the world to help develop 3D software technology that will allow us to scratch beneath the earth's surface and tell us more about such things as our mineral and water resources.

Professor Jessell is an internationally renowned structural geologist who recently moved to Perth to take up one of three prestigious WA Research Fellowships.

He is now based at the Centre for Exploration Targeting at the University of Western Australia.

He says good data is the key to unlocking the earth's secrets.

"One of the problems is that we don't have enough data," he says.

"Even though we have lots of data, it's not enough.

"We can a have a photograph of the surface, but what's going on beneath the surface is much less sure.

"One of the problems we have is that the software at the moment isn't really adapted to take in that uncertainty."

As part of his research over the next few years, Prof Jessell will be looking at modifying and re-writing existing 3D software to tweak it to WA conditions.

"What we're going to try to do is develop things that sit on top of existing packages that are specifically aimed at solving our problems," he says.

Part of the work will focus on what is called geological inversion, which involves using geophysical data in 3D models and showing what is under the earth's surface.

It is innovative technology – and the high-powered computing facilities such as those at the recently-opened Pawsey Centre was one of the things that attracted him to Perth.

"For the geophysical inversion side of our project, the access to that supercomputing facility is a big draw[card]," he says.

The work is expected to help discover new mineral deposits in WA, but the technique isn't just limited to mining.

"The 3D geology of Western Australia is important to lots of other groups apart from the minerals industry," he says.

"It's also important to anybody who is worried about water in WA because the water we have comes from beneath the surface.

"And where it's stored and where it goes and how it interacts with runoff from agriculture is all controlled by the 3D distribution of the geology.

"This is a big topic and its not something we're going to be able to do alone.

"I've got colleagues at the CSIRO and the Geological Survey of WA and what we hope to do is have a critical mass of people working together on this problem."

Explore further: Digging deeper for soil carbon storage

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Digging deeper for soil carbon storage

Sep 10, 2013

Many surface soils in Western Australia are already storing as much carbon as they can, according to research at The University of Western Australia and in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture ...

Survey reveals mineral rich fault lines

Sep 12, 2013

The Geological Survey of Western Australia has confirmed that the remains of a small continent, about the size of Japan, is embedded in central Western Australia.

Looking for a new gold mine? We've got the map

Oct 28, 2013

As published this month in Nature Geoscience, researchers and industry partners have produced the first major 'cat scan of the earth'. Their work reveals a new chart of the sub-continental lithosphere mantle ...

Recommended for you

Checking the first data from OCO-2

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —On July 2, NASA successfully launched its first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission—operated by NASA's ...

Canada to push Arctic claim in Europe

15 hours ago

Canada's top diplomat will discuss the Arctic with his Scandinavian counterparts in Denmark and Norway next week, it was announced Thursday, a trip that will raise suspicions in Russia.

Severe drought is causing the western US to rise

20 hours ago

The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns. Scientists at Scripps Institution of ...

User comments : 0