A New Way to Import Underground Data Quickly and Easily With the RockMass Eon

August 30, 2023
A New Way to Import Underground Data Quickly and Easily With the RockMass Eon

It’s obvious that data preparation is crucial before embarking on 3D geologic modeling as it directly impacts the efficiency of the modeling process, as well as the quality and accuracy of the output model. One of the goals of underground geological data collection is to collect data which can be used to update a resource or grade-control model, ensuring that the model reflects the true geometry and spatial distribution of the ore deposit.  

Collecting data in an underground environment is not always straightforward, especially when it comes to day-to-day data collection. In an ideal world, every advancing face that is visited would be fully mucked out, washed down, and ground-supported when a geologist comes to visit and engage in mapping or sampling. But of course, we know that’s hardly ever the case. Often, the underground geologist will find themselves in a time crunch from having to traverse different areas of the mine, desperately searching for a face that is ready to visit. And eventually, it may be that a face or two are missed because the geologist has run out of time and must come up to surface to begin transcribing and digitizing the underground data before the daily report is due, and before the hours in the day run out.

But what if the data import process was so streamlined and so efficient that you didn’t need to consider the time to transcribe and digitize the data? What if it was ready in a format that requires no post-processing? Then, perhaps more time could be allocated to ensuring that all data is collected underground.

The Traditional Method

Consider the rock face in Figure 1 from a narrow-vein gold environment, and for a moment, put on your production geologist hat. The most important features to map are the hanging-wall (HW) and foot-wall (FW) extents of the vein, the lithology of the host-rock, and the presence of any large-scale faults which may affect the continuity or distribution of ore. Additionally, if chip or channel samples were taken along the face, the location of the sample string in 3D space would need to be determined as well.

The tried, tested and true method of capturing underground geological data is by putting pen to paper. But consider what needs to be done when collecting data ‘the old-fashioned way’. You would need to:

Figure 1 – On your left an image of an advancing rock face where the ore is constrained to quartz-veins and stringers, on the right a hand-drawn face map of the rock face which was drawn to scale while underground. The face map summarizes the location of the ore structures, the host lithology and the location of a major fault.

And this is done for just one face. In many underground settings, the mining crews depend on the production geologist to provide guidance on which direction to mine. The geologist will need to keep track of the instructions given at each heading visited.

That’s a lot of data to keep track of in one shift. And that’s just the underground component! Once on surface, the data needs to be transcribed and digitized so that it is readily available for other geologists to use for the purpose of building or updating the resource or grade-control model. The hand-drawn face maps need to be scanned and georeferenced in post-processing software, while the sample data needs to be typed into a spreadsheet or database. Instructions provided to mining crews need to be summarized in a geological report. As the shift nears the end, there is hardly a chance to review the data to ensure its quality. Instead, it feels like a daily battle getting all the data prepared and ready for those who depend on it for grade-control purposes.

The Future is Upon Us

Fortunately, there is a better way to go about this with the RockMass Eon. Imagine this workflow for a moment. You enter your heading and approach the rock face. You position yourself in front of the rock face and turn to locate the nearest survey marker. You point and shoot the marker with a laser line, turn, and then scan your rock face. You map out your geologic structures directly on the interface (as shown in Figure 2), map out the sample line along the rock face, enter in sample data, and enter in any instructions that you provided to your mining crew. If you wanted to measure the strike and dip of any features, it’s as simple as pointing and shooting the Eon at an exposed plane along the feature of interest.

Figure 2 – The RockMass Eon interface allows you to annotate directly onto an HD-image of the rock face you would like to map. In this example, the user was interested in mapping the hanging-wall (HW) and foot-wall (FW) contacts of the ore-bearing quartz veins and stringers. A fault and sample line were also mapped.

Done. And the best part of all? Once you get up to surface, you don’t need to worry about digitizing or transcribing your data. Or even georeferencing it! It’s all done as part of the workflow. All you need to do is grab a USB-stick and transfer the data from the Eon to your network drive, and then import the pointcloud and annotations into your post-processing software.

Figure 3 – First image on the left shows the output you can expect is a georeferenced RGB pointcloud with annotations and structural discs. The same annotations are shown in right image but without the pointcloud for clarity.

Sample line data is also ready to go in a format that is easily imported into your sample database, and you can quickly integrate your sample data into your geologic modelling software (in Figure 4) in order to update your block model.

Figure 4 – Sample data is ready to be imported directly into your sample database and can be used to update a grade-control block model.

Setting Up Your Data Structure:

Before embarking on any data collection, it’s important to set up a data structure which makes data storage and retrieval simple and intuitive. If the data being collected is for active underground ore headings, then it makes sense to structure your data according to location. Utilizing an appropriate naming convention for your active ore headings which integrate the domain, zone or level names can help with data organization.  Location is typically determined by a data hierarchy as follows:

Once you feel confident that you have a good framework set up for storing your data, importing and retrieving your data becomes very simple. The Eon allows you to name each project before collecting your data. Once you’ve collected all of the data, you’ll see a list of the various areas that you visited, with the most recent projects at the top of the list (Figure 5). Simply select the files you’d like to upload and select the “USB” tab option. Within a minute or two, your data will be uploaded onto your USB stick and be ready to upload onto your network drive.  

Once your data is ready to go on your computer, you’ll need to unzip the file, and you can go ahead and import all of the data you collected underground into your post-processing software. Pointclouds are exported as either LAS or XYZ files, while annotation data are exported as DXF files. Any metadata or sample data are available as CSV files.  

Figure 5 – The “View Data” summary page on the Eon shows a list of all the projects saved. Exporting your data consists of selecting the files you want, and clicking “Export” and the “USB” option. Once you choose your desired pointcloud format, click “Send” and all the data from the day will transfer to your USB in minutes!


Efficient data preparation is vital for accurate 3D geologic modeling, especially in underground environments. This process directly impacts modeling efficiency, output quality, and model accuracy. Collecting reliable data is essential for updating resource or grade-control models, ensuring they reflect the true geometry and spatial distribution of ore deposits. By now, we’re all aware that traditional data collection methods in underground settings can be time-consuming and prone to errors.  

The RockMass Eon offers a revolutionary workflow that simplifies and automates data collection. With this system, geologists can annotate geological structures directly on an HD-image of the rock face, map sample lines, enter data, and provide instructions to mining crews effortlessly. The data is stored and processed within the Eon, eliminating the need for time-consuming post-processing tasks. The collected data can be easily transferred to your network drive for further integration into geological modeling software and be used to update grade-control block models. The RockMass Eon is an innovative tool for underground geological data collection, saving you time and improving data fidelity.

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About RockMass

We believe the best decisions come from having the best data capture solutions. We make actionable and reliable datasets available to every engineer and geologist to bring mining, the critical minerals supply and infrastructure into the 21st century.

We stand to maximize personnel efficiency & empower them with tech to make their work faster, safer, more reliable & accurate. At RockMass, we are transforming the the face of mining and infrastructure through technology, community and joy.

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Shelby Yee
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RockMass Inc.

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