The future of 3D modelling in consulting

Historically, SRK has been at the forefront of developing advanced geological and mine modelling methods from the early Gemcom days until the  development of Leapfrog Mining  with ARANZ. SRK consultants saw the need for a rapid grade modelling tool to replace CAD early, and our strong relationship  with software developers continues.

The ability to generate logic-based geological 3D models for exploration with speed and accuracy, seems not that far away. There is healthy competition from GoCad, Leapfrog and Geomodeller for this type of solution.  

SRK’s business unit in Perth – our Advanced Modelling Laboratory – uses the latest rapid modelling techniques to solve geological, hydrogeological and geotechnical problems from early stage exploration to resource estimation and advanced mine design.  

Quo Vadis?

Leapfrog recently developed general geological modelling that responds to industry needs and can produce effective solid and surface models of faults, intrusions and geological formations, using the same intuitive interface and work flows that made previous Leapfrog capabilities so powerful. Where Leapfrog’s model was difficult to validate, new software tackles this problem with relatively simple geological models quite successfully. However, these packages are either expensive or still in development and have not gained wide acceptance.

ARANZ has developed geological modelling for less complex requirements (Leapfrog Hydro and Leapfrog Geothermal). These more simplistic, stratigraphically-controlled geological models do not compare with sophisticated models for multiple-deformed gold deposits. They work, however, for many minerals modelling problems, such as iron ore, bauxite, and coal. The Quo Vadis question, then, is how to build on this capacity to solve more generalised modelling problems.

SRK Advanced Modelling Laboratory

The SRK Advanced Modelling Laboratory focuses on providing solutions that move away from 2D to 3D geological models to explore at ever-increasing depth. Currently, 3D GIS2 is in its infancy; 3D map products that drive research and data collection  are costly and lack specialised expertise. And scale depends on explicit modelling techniques, complicated by the inability to validate models in 3D against multiple datasets.  

Applying more general geological modelling  has a low cost-to-benefit ratio, with potential to generate rapid 3D maps, ease of validation against 3D data, and scale independence of the modelling process. The ability to model numerous geological domains rapidly and effectively will allow clients to generate regional- and tenement-scale exploration models, reducing risks inherent in resource estimation on poorly domained deposits.

The SRK Advanced Modelling Laboratory intends to use new software technologies to:
• Provide workflows for domain definition from regional to resource scale and geological control for resource domains and regional/tenement maps
• Incorporate 3D GIS to search for buried deposits
• Build complex geological models for clients quickly at significantly lower cost
• Use model simulation to reduce risks, providing many scenarios instead of a single model

Peter Gleeson: pgleeson@srk.co.uk
Peter Williams: pwilliams@srk.com.au


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