Some techniques for the enhancement of electromagnetic data for mineral exploration.
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The usefulness of electromagnetic (EM) methods for mineral exploration is severely restricted by the presence of a conductive overburden. Approximately 80% of the Australian continent is covered by regolith that contains some of the most conductive clays on Earth. As a result, frequency-domain methods are only effective for near surface investigations and time-domain methods, that are capable of deeper exploration, require the measurement of very small, late-time signals. Both methods suffer from the fact that the currents in the conductive Earth layers contribute a large portion of the total measured signal that may mask the signal from a conductive target. In the search for non-layered structures, this form of geological noise is the greatest impediment to the success of EM surveys in conductive terrains. Over the years a range of data acquisition and processing techniques have been used in an effort to enhance the response of the non-layered target and thereby increase the likelihood of its detection.The combined use of a variety of survey configurations to assist exploration and interpretation is not new and is practiced regularly. The active nature of EM exploration means that the measured response is determined to a large degree by the way in which the Earth is energised. Geological structures produce different responses to different stimuli. In this work, two new methods of data combination are used to transform the measured data into a residual quantity that enhances the signature of non-layered geological structures. Based on the concept of data redundancy and tested using the results of numerical modelling, the new combinations greatly increase the signal to noise ratio for targets located in a conductive environment by reducing the layered Earth contribution. The data combinations have application to frequency-domain and time-domain EM surveys and simple interpretive rules can be applied to the residuals to extract geological parameters useful in exploration. The new methods make use of inductive loop sources and can therefore also be applied to airborne surveys.Airborne surveys present special difficulties due to the data acquisition procedures commonly used. Flight-line related artefacts such as herringbones detract from the appearance of maps and make boundary definition more difficult. A new procedure, based on the Radon transform, is used to remove herringbones from airborne EM maps and locate the conductive boundaries correctly, making interpretation more reliable and easier. In addition, selective filtering of the Radon transform data enables the enhancement or attenuation of specific linear features shown in the map to emphasise features of interest. Comparison of the Radon transform procedures with the more conventional Fourier transform methods shaves the Radon transform processing to be more versatile and less prone to distortion of the features in a map.The procedures developed in this work are applied to field data with good results.
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