ABSTRACT

The cores of high-grade nickel and copper sulphides appear as “perfect conductors” to most electromagnetic (EM) and airborne electromagnetic (AEM) systems, because they have bulk electrical conductivities of the order of 100,000S/m. The EM response of these highly conductive cores is essentially undetectable with off-time measurements or when using nonrigid towed-bird systems. Compact AEM systems with accurate primary field bucking and on-time or in-phase measurements are sensitive to perfect conductors, but are incapable of detecting deep targets. Using a GPS system to define geometry, calculations suggest that it should be easy for an AEM system to detect “perfect conductors” provided the receiver was several hundred meters distant from the transmitter. A twin (Gemini) aircraft test was undertaken to test this concept in 2005. The field test successfully demonstrated detection of very conductive targets. Errors associated with geometric changes were better than 0.5% of the primary field at 400 m separation, allowing detection and characterization of the 30 Hz, in-phase response of small and extended conductors. The test shows that a 200 × 100 m very-strongly conductive thin-sheet target would be detectable to depths of 200 m below surface using off-the-shelf technology. Larger conductors would be detectable at greater depths.

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