Challenges and opportunities for geophysics for making discoveries under cover

Presentation at the Breakfast Meeting of the Canadian Geophysical Society (KEGS), PDAC Convention, Toronto, 3rd March 2020


The average depth of discovery has been increasing over time – particularly so in established countries like Canada and Australia.  This presentation outlines the relative effectiveness of geophysics versus other search techniques (such as geochemistry) for making discoveries under cover, and how this has changed over time.  This varies by commodity type, deposit style, district maturity, location and depth of cover.  The challenge is that the geophysics performance diminishes at depth.  New technologies will help push back this frontier – with the result that the future remains bright for the industry.

Another challenge is that the requirements for geophysics services varies greatly from year-to-year.  

The presentation has a set of charts showing the trend in expenditures on exploration fieldwork (such as geophysics, geochemistry and drilling) in Australia and Canada.  These expenditures are extremely sensitive to changes in the overall activity and financial health of the industry.  For example, between 2012 and 2015 reported exploration expenditures in Canada fell by 50% (in real terms); over the same period expenditures on geophysics fell by 71%. Consequently, the pain of any downturn in the exploration sector is disproportionately felt by the service providers; this impacts on Geochem and drilling, as well as GPx.

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