Using computer programs developed at the University of Tasmania, researchers have figured out a way to cut data processing times by a factor of 10 or more.
That means what previously could have taken days and days of computing power can now be done in less than an hour.
It’s potentially a big boon for industry, which was also involved in the research. UTAS director of business development Darren Cundy said the work was a perfect example of how partnerships with universities worked.
“These research programs aren’t created in isolation from industry,” he said.
“We look at where is there unmet technical need, and we try and structure the high level research areas around that.
“This exploration technique was of course something the industry was interested in, because anything which makes the accuracy and cost effectiveness of exploration better is obviously hugely attractive.”
The new algorithms focus on transient electromagnetic surveys, which build complex 3D models to help geologists pinpoint orebodies.
With the new technology already showing promising signs, the next step is to package it into a product for other businesses, and that’s something that will happen outside the walls of UTAS.
Fullagar Geoscience was a key partner in the research and development phase, and it now has a commercial licence to help bring the technology over the final hurdle.
“UTAS is committed to doing research that is relevant and aligned with industry but equally to translating those research outcomes into benefits that are accessible to industry,” Cundy said.
“Transferring intellectual property assets into the hands of businesses that can create real impact from our research is at the heart of our commercialisation strategy.”
In the coming months Fullagar will be fine tweaking the algorithm for end users, and building a product other geoscientists and geologists can use.
Fullagar director Peter Fullagar said his company would eventually make the software available to other companies under a sub-licence.
A final product could be available within the next few months.
“We have a unique combination of technical capability and industry experience, which will allow us to take this product to the next level,” he said.
“With further development of the algorithms, we'll deliver rapid interpretation of transient electromagnetic data and integration with geological and other data.”
Along with Fullagar, AMIRA International was also involved in the research and development phase.
AMIRA is an industry research organisation and their involvement was sponsored by AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Rio Tinto, and Mira Geoscience.