I don’t think I’m turning any heads when I say that collecting geological data underground presents a unique set of challenges and limitations. Before any work is considered, safety is the number one priority as my former Geology Manager stressed to our team “No piece of data is worth risking your health and safety”. Accessibility to active rock faces can be limited, and even when access is granted, the clock begins to tick away as the jumbo operator twitches behind, desperate to drill off his round (and two others immediately after). But they must wait, as the value of the data being collected is unquestionable. This is especially true in complex, variably grading ore deposits. Perhaps it’s an oversimplification to suggest that accuracy of the resource model is only as good as the drill-hole spacing, but once mining commences, the development and production drifts which skirt and intersect the resource offer valuable exposure to the geometry and spatial distribution of the orebody. Consistent geological mapping and sampling of advancing rock faces and walls is crucial in order to fine-tune the grade-control model, ensuring that future mine plans, designs and budgets are created based on the most accurate and up-to-date information.
When it comes to grade control at your producing mine, its success relies heavily on effective data collection, management, and integration. This is where digital mapping can play a pivotal role in helping streamline the overall process from mapping to modelling. Mine geologists and engineers have the daily responsibility of ensuring that quality material is being fed through to the mill, and these decisions directly affect mill performance and profitability. It only makes sense that such important decisions should be made only with the most accurate and up-to-date information. Geologists underground have various levels of experience and skill when it comes to geological mapping and interpretation of sometimes complex geological features. How many times have two different geologists mapped the same face, only to come up with slightly different maps? Inevitably, there will be inconsistencies and given the time crunch that most geologists will face when attempting to collect data from several active ore headings, it’s not unreasonable that important features may be overlooked or glossed over in an attempt to complete all the work before coming up to surface. Once on surface, an extensive amount of time and effort is needed to convert hand-drawn face maps and hand-bombed sample data into a digitally available and geo-referenced format. Personally, I always felt it wasn’t the most optimized workflow. An ideal workflow would support decision-making by effortlessly integrating data as it’s collected, ensuring efficiency, auditability, and clarity.
The RockMass Eon is a solution that aims to simplify the daunting process of consistent, accurate and reliable geological data collection by employing an efficient and simplified digital workflow. At RockMass, we understand that portability and ease of use is one of the foremost concerns of any geologist or geotechnical engineer who is tasked with data collection underground. After all, what good is technology if it can’t survive the harsh underground conditions? The RockMass Eon has been designed to handle the rigours of underground travel, and to be portable enough to walk long distances with it without needing the fitness level of an army recruit.
Once you’ve entered your heading and approach your rock face, you just need to position yourself between the face and the nearest survey marker. Using the built-in rangefinder, you simply point and shoot the marker, then pivot and scan your rock face. Geological features can be annotated directly onto the tablet interface, and you can draw out your sample line with intervals as well as input the sample data. A more detailed instruction on how to collect data using the RockMass Eon has already been summarized here in this blog post.
Exporting your data is as simple as selecting the files you want to export, and simply pressing “Export Data”. The files will be exported as a .zip file onto the tablet desktop ready to be uploaded to your USB drive, and each file will contain:
Once your data is ready to go on your USB drive, you can upload your files directly onto your computer. This data will already have been georeferenced and is ready to go!
Adding data to your Leapfrog Geo project is a very straightforward process. If you are using the data for the purpose of dynamically updating your geological model, it’s only a matter of clicking a few buttons to incorporate the extents of the orebody which you mapped underground.
In order to add a high-definition pointcloud to your Leapfrog Geo project, you need to add it as Points.
Step 1: Right click on Points, and select Import Points.
Step 2: You will be prompted to select the appropriate file. Locate where you’ve stored your pointcloud file and select it. Once selected, you will see the Import Wizard pop up. Using the drop-down arrows for each column, designate the first three columns as “East (X), North (Y), Elev (Z)”. Then, designate the next three columns as “Numeric (R), Numeric (G), and Numeric (B)”. Hit Finish.
Step 3: You will see your pointcloud file in the layer tree on the left under Points. In order to view the pointcloud file in colour, you will need to use the Leapfrog built-in calculator to convert the RGB colour scheme to HEX colour. Right click on the pointcloud file and select Calculations and Filters.
Step 4: Once you’ve opened the built-in calculator, look over to the far-right of your Leapfrog Geo project and you will notice a window named Syntax and functions. Second from the bottom you will find Colour, and something called rgb_to_hex (R, G, B). Select that option by double clicking it, and it should automatically grab the columns that you’ve already defined as R, G, B and create a HEX calculation. Click the save button and exit out of the calculations tab. You should now see your pointcloud file in your layer tree under the points section, and it will be named “HEX”. You can rename this if you so wish!
Annotations are straightforward to import into your Leapfrog Geo project as well. The annotation files are output as .dxf files, so they can be imported as a polyline, or as points. Generally speaking, if you’re looking to dynamically update your model using these annotations mapped underground, then it is best to import them as Points so that the model can snap directly to the points along the polyline.
In order to import your annotations as points, simply right click on Points in your project tree and select Import Points. This will prompt you to find the location of your annotation data. Once you’ve located it, select it and press OK. It’s as easy as that! Your annotation file will now be loaded into your Leapfrog Geo project, ready to integrate into your dynamic model.