Abstract

Electromagnetic (EM) methods are important geophysical tools for mineral exploration. Forward and inverse computer modeling are commonly used to interpret EM data. Real-life geology can be complex, and our computer modeling tools need to faithfully represent subsurface features to achieve accurate data interpretation. Traditional rectilinear meshes are less flexible and have difficulty conforming to the complex geometries of realistic geologic models, resulting in large numbers of mesh cells. In contrast, unstructured grids can represent complex geologic structures efficiently and accurately. However, building realistic geologic models and discretizing these models with unstructured grids suitable for EM modeling can be difficult and requires significant effort and specialized computer software tools. Therefore, it is important to develop workflows that can be used to facilitate model building and mesh generation. We have developed a procedure that can be used to build arbitrarily complex geologic models with topography using unstructured grids and a finite-volume time-domain code to calculate EM responses. We present an example of a trial-and-error modeling approach applied to a real data set collected at a uranium exploration project in the Athabasca Basin in Canada. The uranium mineralization is closely related to graphitic fault conductors in the basement. The deep burial depth and small thickness of the graphitic fault conductors demand accurate data interpretation results to guide subsequent drill testing. Our trial-and-error modeling approach builds initial realistic geologic models based on known geology and downhole data and creates initial geoelectrical models based on physical property measurements. Then, the initial model is iteratively refined based on the match between modeled and real data. We show that the modeling method can obtain 3D geoelectrical models that conform to known geology while achieving a good match between modeled and real data. The method can also provide guidance of where future drill holes should be directed.

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