Seismic processing, inversion, and AVO for gold exploration: Case study from Western Australia
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Published by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. © 2012 Society of Exploration Geophysicists.
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We investigate the potential of using high-resolution seismic methods for rock characterization and for targeting of gold deposits at the St. Ives gold camp. The application of seismic methods in hard-rock environments is challenged by complex structures, intrinsically low signal-to-noise ratio, regolith distortions, and access restrictions. If these issues can be addressed, then the unparalleled resolving power of reflection seismic can be used for mineral exploration. Appropriate spatial sampling of the wavefield combined with a survey geometry design and rigorous data processing to incorporate high fold and long offsets are necessary for creation of high-quality seismic images. In the hard-rock environment of Western Australia, accurate static corrections and multiphase velocity analysis are essential processing steps. This is followed by a rigorous quality control following each processing step. In such a case, we show that the role of reflection seismic could be lifted from mere identification of first-order structures to refined lithological analyses. Five deep boreholes with sonic logs and core sample test data were used to calibrate 2D seismic images. Despite seismic images were produced with relatively robust scaling it was possible to achieve reasonably high seismic-log correlation across three of the tightly spaced boreholes using a single composite wavelet. Amplitude-versus-offset (AVO) analysis indicated that gold-bearing structures may be related to elevated AVO effect and increased reflectivity. Consequently, partial stack analysis and acoustic and elastic inversions were conducted. These results and impedance crossplots were then evaluated against known gold occurrences. While still in the preliminary stages, hard-rock seismic imaging, inversion, and the application of AVO techniques indicated significant potential for targeting mineral reserves.
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