Canada’s mining sector is a massive contributor to the country’s GDP, with significant untapped potential.
Unlocking this potential means becoming more productive, and that requires innovation.
That is where Acoustic Zoom and its innovative application of shallow-seismic techniques come in.
Acoustic Zoom has been actively researching the concept first presented at Disrupt Mining last year: focused 3D seismic to better delineate new and existing deposits.
And we have achieved a significant breakthrough in the technology.
Our advance has been in a new way to deliver 3D seismic techniques that not only identifies and model ore-bearing structures, but does so at a fraction of the cost by leveraging existing boreholes.
The AZ borehole method employs ultra-high frequency seismic energy and downhole geophones to build a dataset that can be processed to model the geology surrounding the borehole.
The resulting geological model supports the selection of specific drill targets to guide planning, increase productivity, eliminate the need for wide-spaced blind drilling, and support enhanced 43-101 reporting.
The 3D model we produce incorporates the subtle geological structure and correlates this with the borehole sample analysis to provide an integrated view of the deposit.
The deposit character is revealed in a virtual core of 200m diameter extending outward and to borehole depth, for a physically referenced, accurate and sophisticated geological model.
Using existing boreholes makes the approach very low-cost, and the required kit and three-man team can be flown to site by helicopter.
Our secret is in applying antenna theory, ultra-high frequency energy, and first-principal diffraction-based imaging to seismic surveying.
Doing this makes it possible to employ beam-forming and focusing techniques to achieve the resolution and sensitivity to characterize subtle geological detail.
We start with placement of downhole seismic receivers, and then collect data while a programmable high-frequency vibroseis source energizes the site from selected positions.
These source positions taken together form the transmit array that is focused in the processing software. The downhole geophone positions form the receive array.
The approach is environmentally friendly, using a man-portable seismic source, and requiring only a small team to setup and collect data over a day, leaving almost no footprint.
In the AZ method, sound travels only one way: from source to receiver, shortening the distance traveled over reflection seismic and making it possible to propagate frequencies up to 1500Hz for increased resolution.
In the processing suite, beam-steered algorithms focus the transmit energy throughout the survey volume, identifying subtle scatterers, reflectors and diffractors that combine to image the 3D structure of the geology.
Repetitive transmission, referred to as stacking, is used to further increase signal-to-noise, making even small impedance transitions visible.
Identifying these low-contrast targets to produce the best images of complex geology is the key advance in the AZ method.
Last year we proved the value of the method to mining, and this year we have reduced the survey cost by 90%, making it less expensive than drilling.
The AZ approach is different because the method focuses on discrete, small targets and diffractors as the primary imaging focus, not as anomalies in conventional layered seismic.
Acoustic Zoom has lead the field in this area since 2008, successfully patenting the approach in 2010, with 10 US and international patents subsequently awarded. We published our method in The Journal of Natural Gas, Science and Engineering in 2014.
Our goal is to go beyond wire-framing of borehole intercept data, to create a true 3D model of the geology at the mine site.
During processing, we listen directionally within the dataset to effectively populate the virtual 3D space with signal intensities.
The resulting 3D dataset represents the entire imaged geology surrounding the borehole.
We applied to Disrupt Mining this year after reaching the semi-finals in 2017, because we believed that truly cutting-edge innovations must be applied to improve productivity in this vital sector for Canada.
Rather than see mining companies risk precious capital on less informed drilling and modeling, we would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate what we can do.
We believe Acoustic Zoom represents a breakthrough in delineating deposits and can increase the potential of any mining property.
Acoustic Zoom Inc
685 St. Thomas Line
Canada A1L 3V2
Disrupt Mining 2017 Challenge (Acoustic Zoom)