BCGS 2019 Fall Symposium: Geophysics Applications to Environmental, Civil and Mining Engineering Studies

The BC Geophysical Society is proud to present the 2019 BCGS Fall Symposium “Geophysics Applications to Environmental, Civil and Mining Engineering Studies”

Brought to you with support of our sponsors.

SponsorLogos_WebThe theme is engineering geophysics applied to civil and mining engineering projects, groundwater investigations, and environmental studies.

One of the main focuses will be on tailings storage facilities (TSF) and the recent dam failures that have been well publicized recently.  The topic will be reviewed by leading geotechnical and geophysical experts introducing the challenges of monitoring TSFs and providing case studies showcasing a variety of geophysical applications. The day will then open up to innovative geophysical applications in groundwater investigations, metal detection, subsea pipeline monitoring and hazard assessment. The talks will cover a range of cutting-edge technologies from GPR, 3D seismics, HR gradient magnetics, electromagnetics, to borehole logging, AUV and 4D database management.

Date: Friday, October 11, 2019
Time 8:00 am to 5:00 pm PST
Registration Cost:
– Non-Member Price $150
– Member Price $130
– Student Price $30
Registration link is below
Location: UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 3B7

Symposium Schedule: BCGS 2019 Fall Symposium Schedule

Symposium Abstracts: BCGS 2019 Fall Symposium Abstracts


Please register in advance of the symposium. Your registration is guaranteed once payment has been received. The attendee name must be entered for registration to be complete. Confirmed Speakers do not need to register.

A half day (AM or PM) option is available. The half day rate includes lunch.

Registration is closed. Thank you for attending.

Co-Chairs: Graham Parkinson, Klohn Crippen Berger & Cliff Candy, Frontier Geosciences


David Chambers, Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2) – From Bulletin 121 to Brumadinho: The Increasing Frequency & Severity of Tailings Facility Failures: Navigating the Decade 2020-2029.

Harvey McLeod, Klohn Crippen Berger – Safe design of tailings dams: how geophysics can help.

Graham Parkinson, Klohn Crippen Berger – The gamut of tailings dam geophysics.

Doug McConnell, DMT Geosciences – Failure is not an option: tailings dam investigations with geophysics and the Mount Polley review.

Michael Maxwell*, Robert Eso, Golder Associates – 3D electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) investigations of surface tailings facilities and underground mine operations.

Jan Francke, Groundradar Inc. – Radar imaging of TSFs and the potential of 4D tomographic monitoring.

John McGaughey, Mira Geoscience – The role of geophysics in quantitative geotechnical hazard assessment.

David Schieck, Echo Environmental & Geotechnical – Shear landstreamer profiling for dam and levee investigations: single pass MASW, P‐ & SH‐wave reflection technology.

Martin Karrenbach, OptaSense – Distributed fiber-optic sensing (DAS) in geophysical and engineering applications.

Riaz Tejani*, DGI Geoscience, Marcus Donaldson*, Qteq – Using borehole magnetic resonance to detect free and bound water in tailings and estimate hydraulic conductivity to predict resistance to static liquefaction failure in upstream tailings dams.

Cliff Candy, Caitlin Shaw-MacLaren*, Frontier Geosciences – Geophysical site investigations at the Bennett Dam.

Mel Best, Bemex Consulting Int’l – The Peace project aquifer study.

Kevin Kingdon*, Len Pasion, Black Tusk Geophysics – The application of the UltraTEM metal detector to mining environments.

Peter Kowalczyk, Karen Weitemeyer*, Ocean Floor Geophysics – Using AUV Electric Field measurements to monitor the integrity of cathodic protection systems on subsea pipelines.

David Huntley, GSC ‐ NRCan – Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation (PRIME) Installation in Canada: Protecting National Railways by Monitoring an Active Landslide near Ashcroft, BC (Poster).

August 2019 – Technical Talk

BCGS Technical Talk – August 12, 2019

Speaker: Professor Eun-Jung Holden, University of Western Australia

Title: Developing Data Science Applications in Geosciences: An End-User Focused Approach

Date/Time: Monday, August 12, 2019 @ 4:30pm PST

Location: 4th Floor Conference Room, Room 451, 409 Granville St. (UK Building at Granville and Hastings), Vancouver


Developing Data Science Applications in Geosciences: An End-User Focused Approach
Professor Eun-Jung Holden, Geodata Algorithms Team, UWA

Understanding complex subsurface geology is a challenging task where interpretations are performed using diverse types of geoscientific data. The Geodata Algorithms Team at UWA has been working closely with the minerals industry for the past 12 years and developed machine-assisted solutions to improve the efficiency and the robustness of geological interpretation. This talk will present a number of applications of automated image analysis and machine learning, which were  developed by the team in recent years in partnership with mining companies.  They include drillhole data analysis and integration methods which are currently used by industry end-users; on-going research on advanced drillhole data visualisation and interpolation methods; and on-going development a geological knowledge mining system for exploration reports using text mining.


Professor Holden received her BSc, MSc and PhD in computer science from the University of Western Australia.  Her postgraduate and postdoctoral research focused on developing visualization, automated image analysis and machine learning techniques for hand gesture recognition.  Then in 2006, she made a transition to geoscience and now leads the Geodata Algorithms Team at UWA.  The team effectively spans the boundaries of computational science and geoscience and links academia and industry.  Three suites of their data analytics algorithms were commercialized, namely CET Grid Analysis and CET Porphyry Detection extensions for Geosoft’s Oasis Montaj; and Image Structure and Interpretation module for Advanced Logic Technology (ALT)’s WellCAD, which are marketed and licensed by Geosoft (based in Canada) and ALT (based in Luxembourg) respectively.  She is currently leading the UWA-Rio Tinto Iron Ore data fusion projects which aim to achieve machine-assisted modelling of geology/resource through transformational and interpretive data science solutions.  Her research team won the UWA Vice Chancellor Award in Impact and Innovation in 2015.

June 2019 – Technical Talk

BCGS Technical Talk – June 20, 2019

Speaker: Mike McMillan, Computational Geosciences

Title: Machine Learning in the Natural Resources Industry – examples and applications for mining, oil and gas and water exploration

Date/Time: Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:30pm PST

Location: 4th Floor Conference Room, Room 451, 409 Granville St. (UK Building at Granville and Hastings), Vancouver


Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are all the rage in 2019, and we take a look at recent applications of AI across a wide spectrum of problems in the natural resource industry. These vary from mineral and water prospectivity mapping to airborne induced-polarization detection, to borehole classification and seismic horizon picking. These new developments use deep convolutional neural networks to train the computer to detect subtle patterns across many geoscience data layers in order to help (and importantly not to replace) the geoscientist. Given a data-rich region with many overlapping geoscience data layers, the key is to come up with a well-defined question with examples of training labels. In the training labels we want both positive outcomes (ie. what you’re actually looking for) and negative outcomes (ie. what you’re definitely not looking for). These labels can be anything from gold-assays, rock types, fault types to salinity values in water. The type of label doesn’t really matter as long as it represents the thing or things you’re trying to find (or not trying to find). The areas without labels are the unknown regions that the machine learning algorithm will try to predict on based on signatures it learns from the training labels. In some settings this may be predicting gold grades in un-drilled areas, it may be predicting which electromagnetic decays have induced-polarization responses, or it may be predicting the likelihood of a water aquifer occurring in a remote region of the desert. The convenient aspect of these convolutional neural networks is that the algorithm architecture can be used to answer a multitude of questions, depending on the input training labels. This means that unlike geophysical inversion where a completely different code is required for magnetics, gravity or electromagnetics, we can generally use one AI framework, with some minor tweaks, for every problem. In this manner, we can throw in all available data sets and collectively use this information to help answer relevant questions that will help drive a data-driven cost-effective exploration program.

April 2019 – Technical Talk

BCGS Technical Talk – April 18, 2019

Speaker: Kevin Fan, B.Sc., UBC

Title: Humanitarian Geophysics in Myanmar: Partnering with Local Governments and Universities to Alleviate Seasonal Droughts

Date/Time: Thursday, April 18, 2019 @ 4:30pm PST

Location: 4th Floor Conference Room, Room 451, 409 Granville St. (UK Building at Granville and Hastings), Vancouver


Millions of people in Myanmar are affected by annual water shortages—a fact exemplified by the situation in rural Mon state in the country’s southeast, where village wells routinely run dry for months in the dry season. The result: water insecurity and suffering for tens of thousands of Mon villagers. The DC-Resistivity method has significant potential in Mon state, given its ability to characterize freshwater aquifers and the occurrence of saline groundwater—both essential in a coastal region with limited groundwater supply often infiltrated by saltwater. Mon state’s generalized stratigraphy consists of an electrically resistive fractured crystalline bedrock underlying an electrically conductive clay aquitard, for which a significant contrast in resistivity is expected. Moreover, previous 1D Resistivity surveys funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Mon villages have shown promise in determining optimal locations at which to drill wells.

We discuss a proposed project with SEG’s Geoscientists Without Borders foundation, aiming to: a) deploy ERT (Electrical Resistivity Tomography) geophysical technology in water-stressed rural Mon villages to improve water security for people living in rural areas, increase well-drilling success rates, and empower women and girls; and b) build technical capacity in geophysical data acquisition, analysis, and interpretation by training local undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty at Mawlamyine University and government engineers at the Department of Rural Development, via global, multidisciplinary partnerships. We will discuss plans to train locals about ERT survey fundamentals and data analysis/interpretation, then run a survey campaign with the newly trained participants. We will then integrate the results with follow-up drilling to site optimal locations for wells, perform ground truthing, and generate case histories, contributing to the global geoscience community. Central to our project and proposed training will be the continued development of open source resources at GIF (Geophysical Inversion Facility), encompassing educational resources on ERT surveying and inversion using GIF open source software. We will also discuss our experiences and lessons learned from a previous 6-month Geophysical Survey Training volunteer placement in Myanmar with the Mon state Department of Rural Development, as facilitated by Canadian international development organization Cuso International. For this placement, we co-built an inexpensive resistivity device that successfully delineated low resistivity zones and achieved results comparable to a previous Syscal R2 survey down to 35 m depths. We also conducted initial calibration testing, trained government engineers in basic data acquisition and analysis, and developed essential relationships with a diverse set of water stakeholders in the community.

March 2019 – Technical Talk

BCGS Technical Talk – March 28, 2019

Speaker: Dr. James Macnae, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Title: Can machine learning, AI, analytics and the IoT add to AEM processing and interpretation?

Date/Time: Thursday, March 28, 2019 @ 5:00pm PST

Location: 4th Floor Conference Room, Room 451, 409 Granville St. (UK Building at Granville and Hastings), Vancouver


Can machine learning, AI, analytics and the IoT add to AEM processing and interpretation?
James Macnae, RMIT University

Some recent papers in computer science related to the “Internet of Things” (IoT) have presented examples of detecting anomalies in IoT time series using deep (machine) learning.  These examples have some elements in common with AEM data processing and interpretation, and may in the future lead to automated QC and first pass physical property prediction and ultimately geological interpretation.  However, implementing and setting up such processes will still be a very significant challenge for geoscientists. I therefor suspect that the Australian mineral explorer that last year made its geologists and geophysicists redundant, and advertised for “data mining specialists” will be too far ahead of its time.

To extract “useful” physical property information from this mountain of data, and thereby infer useful geology, there are many options. The historically most useful process combines physical insight to infer conductivity from the observed response with statistical methods to improve signal/noise. For example, EM data from a controlled source survey are presented as profiles or inverted with logarithmic time spacing, sensible for EM diffusion. Reduced noise has come from e.g. binary stacking, and recognition that sferic source energy is non-stationary and can usefully be “pruned” from the data before stacking.  Subsets of the acquired data are then selected, modelled and inverted based on simple models or a-priori assumptions. Questions remain as to whether commonly applied a-priori assumptions are reasonable, whether all the useful implications of the data, such as induced polarization (AIP) and superparamagnetic (ASPM) effects have been extracted, and whether sferics, powerline signals and VLF can provide complementary conductivity information in a controlled source survey.

Electromagnetic (EM) data is being collected at ever higher streaming rates, with airborne AEM data sampling rates approaching 1 MHz in some systems, and ground penetrating radar (GPR) sampling approaching 1 GHz. Six hours of data acquisition with BIPTEM, a 24-bit, 12 channel AEM system (6 B field sensor, 3 dB/dt, 3 rotation rate), each channel sampled at 156250 Hz will deliver over 150 GB of data.