A role for geophysical methods in meeting the resource requirements of the 21st century


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About the Course

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2012 SEG Honorary Lecturer Pacific South. Despite the temporary impact of events such as the oil shocks of the 1970's, prices for most earth resources were stable throughout the last half of the 20th century. The conventional wisdom was that supply could meet demand and that prices would generally remain flat. However, as the 21st century unfolds, it is clear that this situation no longer holds. Asia, with China and India being obvious key players, is urbanising and industrialising at an unprecedented rate. Resource companies are now being stretched to the limit to meet the demands for raw materials and energy products. Over the past decade, commodity prices have dramatically increased, and they are likely to continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The increases in demand also raise questions as to the availability of resources in both the short and long term.

Within this context, the global exploration effort has increased while companies mining existing resources are seeking to maximise their output and productivity. Mine expansions, the use of better equipment, and a more skilled work force provide some of the solutions. However, better understanding and management of the geological environment under which the mining occurs are equally important factors. In this regard, geophysical methods, by virtue of their ability to map and characterise rock masses prior to, during, and after mining provide essential tools for modern mining.

The use of geophysical methods by the Australian coal mining industry provides an excellent example of the emerging role for geophysics in assisting mining companies meet the resource requirements of the 21st century. This lecture will illustrate the varied applications of geophysical methods in coal mining, including those in important new areas such as estimation of greenhouse gas emissions; as well as, insights into the future directions of mining and the significant roles that geophysics has to play in that future.

Your Instructor

Peter Hatherly, PhD, SEG-HL
Peter Hatherly, PhD, SEG-HL

Peter Hatherly is a geophysicist with 35 years experience in research and consulting for coal mining. Over that time, he has had involvement with many geophysical techniques but mostly with geophysical logging, seismic reflection methods, and microseismic monitoring. The applications cover diverse areas such as mapping coal seam structures, geotechnical characterisation of rock masses, monitoring of the stability of rock masses, and estimation of greenhouse gas emissions. In seeking to solve practical mining problems, he has worked closely with geologists, geotechnical engineers, and other geophysicists. Peter currently offers geophysical services through his own company, Coalbed Geoscience. He is also employed part-time at the University of Sydney where he is contributing to a large mine automation project funded by Rio Tinto. Previous appointments include CRC Mining Professor of Mining Geophysics at the University of Sydney and Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO.

Peter holds a PhD from Macquarie University and has received a number of awards for his contributions to geophysics and coal mining.