April 2024 Monthly Talk

Speaker:Martyn Unsworth
University of Alberta
2023-2024 CSEG Distinguished Lecturer
Title:Magnetotellurics: Using natural radio waves to look inside the earth
Date:Thursday, April 4, 2024
Time:4:30pm to 5:30pm PDT
Location: Room 111 – 409 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC, V6C 1T2


Unsworth CSEG DL Flyer 2023-2024


Geophysical exploration provides important information for resource exploration, studies of geohazards, and investigations into how the Earth works. Seismic exploration is the most widely used geophysical technique and is an invaluable tool for oil and gas exploration. However, no single geophysical technique can answer all questions about Earth structure. An alternative method uses low-frequency electromagnetic (EM) signals to image the electrical resistivity of the Earth. This rock property is sensitive to the presence of fluids and a number of economically important minerals. For more than a century, EM techniques have been applied in areas including hydrogeology, mineral exploration, and geothermal energy development. EM methods focused on near-surface exploration utilize signals generated with a transmitter. For deeper exploration it is most efficient to use magnetotellurics (MT) – an EM method that uses natural EM signals to image subsurface structure. In this lecture, I will describe the physics of the MT method and outline its range of applications. This lecture will emphasize (1) how MT is now capable of working in 3-D to develop realistic models of subsurface resistivity (2) how MT is most effective when used in combination with other geophysical methods, and (3) introduce applications of societal relevance including include mineral exploration, volcanology, geothermal exploration, and tectonic studies.


Professor Martyn Unsworth is a faculty member in the Department of Physics / Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the development of electromagnetic methods in geophysics. Applications in applied geophysics includes studies in mineral exploration, geothermal energy development and imaging permafrost. He has also used magnetotellurics extensively in investigations of plate tectonics, earthquake hazards and volcanoes. He received a BA in Natural Sciences (1986) and a PhD in Marine Geophysics (1991), both from the University of Cambridge. His postdoctoral research at UBC was focussed on the development of inversion methods for controlled source electromagnetic data. After working as a Research Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, he joined the geophysics group at the University of Alberta in 2000.

BCGS Roundup Breakfast 2024

Speaker:Darren Burrows, BSc (Hons)
Senior Geophysicist, Fleet Space Technologies
Title:Exploring the Earth, Moon and Mars with Modern Geophysical Sensors
Date:Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Time:7:30am – 9:30am PST
Location:Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel
Oceanview Suite 1-2
300 – 999 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC, V6C 3B5
Registration:Industry $50 / Student $20*

* Note: Student registration fees will be refunded following the breakfast. This has been made possible by generous sponsorship from Condor Consulting Inc.

Please register and pay via Paypal at the link below.
Registration will close on Fri, Jan 19 @ 12pm. Space is limited so register early!

Thank you to everyone for their support!
We have reached capacity and the breakfast is now sold out!


Exploring the Earth, Moon and Mars with Modern Geophysical Sensors
Darren Burrows, BSc (Hons), Fleet Space Technologies

Fleet Space Technologies is a leading Australian space exploration company with a mission to connect and explore the Earth, Moon, and Mars. We will begin this discussion by walking through our journey of designing, building, launching and operating Australia’s first commercial LEO nanosatellite constellation and how we are approaching its expansion. By using a combination of satellite communications, our purposefully designed geophysical sensors, and cutting edge software we are helping to accelerate mineral exploration on Earth. Next we move to our closest neighbour, the Moon, where Fleet will be deploying the Seismic Payload for Interplanetary Discovery, Exploration and Research (SPIDER) to collect seismic data from the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative in 2026. The SPIDER design and testing process will be discussed, as well as our ideas on large scale lunar exploration. Lastly, we will share our ideas on how resource exploration will allow humans to build permanent bases on Mars.

About the Speaker:

Darren graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa with a Geophysics (Hons) degree. Initially he worked in deep Gold mines analysing mining induced seismicity, to ensure safe underground mining conditions. He then moved to Platinum exploration in the Bushveld Igneous Complex planning drillholes, logging core and managing exploration data. A large part of his career was spent in airborne geophysics with Fugro / CGG / Xcalibur where he has held various roles focusing on geophysical data processing & interpretation as well as business development. At Fleet Space Technologies he entered the emerging field of ambient noise tomography and applies it to solve mineral exploration problems.

2023 Annual General Meeting

Our 2023 annual general meeting (AGM) will be held:

at 4:30pm on Tuesday, December 12, 2023
at Moose’s Down Under, Basement 830 West Pender St., Vancouver BC. V6C 1J8

The main order of business will be to elect the Directors of the BCGS and review the past year’s activity. Our bylaws allow for between 4 and 7 Directors. The current directors are standing for re-election.

We are inviting interested persons to nominate themselves for election to join the Board of the BCGS. Please indicate your intent to do so by 23h59 on Thursday, December 7, 2023.  All names of prospective candidates will then be included on a revised AGM notice to be emailed out the following business day if any changes are required.

The BCGS directors standing for re-election are:

Chair / TreasurerRoss PolutnikSJ Geophysics Ltd.
Vice-ChairKyle PattersonConvolutions Geoscience
Scholarship CoordinatorFrancis JonesUBC
Technology SpecialistDominique FournierMira Geoscience Ltd.
DirectorGriff JonesGolder Associates
DirectorShawn LettsAnglo American Ltd.

We would like to remind you there are two classes of voting members in the BCGS:

  1. General members. An annual fee of $20. Will be returned as a discount should they choose to enroll in our annual symposium; and
  2. Student members. Free membership upon demonstration of enrollment in a post-secondary program at an accredited educational institution.

In order to participate in the vote, we ask that you pay your 2024 member dues online via Paypal on the “Join Us” page (link below). These member dues will provide membership in the BCGS through 2024. Eligible students, as defined above, are entitled to vote. If you are unsure of your current membership status please send us an email (info at bcgsonline.org) and we’d be happy to check for you.


The AGM is open to all members and non-members.

November 2023 – Events:

We would like to bring to your attention the following upcoming events within the community that may be of interest to you and your colleagues. Additional details are below.

  • UBC will be hosting the 7th International Symposium on Three-Dimensional Electromagnetics (3DEM-7) from Nov 13 to 17th. DETAILS BELOW
  • MDRU & DMEC are organizing a one day short course titled “EM for Geologists” to be held on Nov 17. DETAILS BELOW
  • BCGS Monthly talk – next item.

November 23, 2023 – Monthly Talk

Speaker: Jorge Lopez-Alvis, University of British Columbia

Title: Using convolutional neural networks to classify UXO with multi-component electromagnetic induction data

Date: Thurs, Nov 23, 2023

Time: 4:30pm to 5:30pm PDT

Location: In-person: Room 111 – 409 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 1T2

Virtual: via Zoom, to be announced.

Note: This will be an in-person meeting


Electromagnetic induction (EMI) methods are commonly used to classify unexploded ordnance (UXO) in both terrestrial and marine settings. Modern time-domain systems used for classification are multicomponent which means they acquire many transmitter-receiver pairs at multiple time-channels. Traditionally, classification is done using a physics-based inversion approach where polarizability curves are estimated from the EMI data. We developed a convolutional neural network (CNN) that classifies UXO directly from EMI data. The architecture of our CNN produces high-resolution results and can handle the multiple transmitter-receiver pairs and the per-line acquisition of multicomponent systems. The CNN is trained using synthetic data generated with a dipole forward model considering all possible UXO and clutter objects. In this presentation, we will discuss how we structure the data to be input into a neural network, how we design the network, and how training is performed. Our approach was tested on data acquired with the UltraTEMA system in the Sequim Bay marine test site. For this test dataset, our CNN-based approach detects all UXOs and classifies more than 90% as the correct type while also discriminating ~70% of the clutter. An overview of our workflow applied to this dataset and some discussion of the classification results will be presented.


Jorge is a Postdoctoral Fellow from the Geophysical Inversion Facility (GIF) group at UBC. He has a background in near-surface geophysics and using machine learning in geophysics. His current research involves developing an approach for using neural networks to classify UXO directly from electromagnetic data. He completed a joint PhD program at Ghent University and University of Liège where he explored the use of deep generative models (or generative A.I.) to produce geologically realistic images from geophysical data.

3DEM-7 Symposium: Nov 13-17, 2023,   https://3dem-7.geosci.xyz/

The 7th International Symposium on Three-Dimensional Electromagnetic (3DEM-7) will be held on Nov 13-15, 2023 and we are looking forward to welcoming the EM community to Vancouver!

Registration is open at https://3dem-7.geosci.xyz/#registration and the abstract submission deadline has been extended to Oct 20: https://3dem-7.geosci.xyz/#abstracts-call. If you plan to attend, we appreciate early registration so that we can orchestrate the catering.

We are still seeking sponsors, so if your organization is interested in sponsoring 3DEM-7, please reach out to Lindsey Heagy (lheagy@eoas.ubc.ca) and Eldad Haber (ehaber@eoas.ubc.ca).

If you are in Vancouver and are willing to billet students / postdocs for the event, please contact Lindsey (lheagy@eoas.ubc.ca). There are some folks with limited travel funds who would like to attend, but require additional support.

Workshop: EM for Geologists (MDRU/DMEC): Nov 17, 2023

A one day short course covering electromagnetic methods, case studies, etc. See below link for the schedule and to register.


STUDENTS NOTE: Condor Consulting will cover the registration fee ($60) for any student who wants to attend. DMEC will cover $200 for any out-of-town student who attends to defray expenses (receipts required).

August 2023 – Monthly Talk

Speaker: Brendan Howe, Teck Resources Limited

Title: An Empirical Geophysical Model for Porphyry Copper Deposits in the Laramide Copper Province

Date: Thurs, August 24, 2023

Time: 4:30pm to 5:30pm PDT

Location: Room 111 – 409 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 1T2


The Laramide copper province is located in southwestern North America, covering parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the U.S, in addition to Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Baja California in Mexico. Porphyry copper mineralization is associated with Laramide age (~80-45 Ma) magmatism and has been estimated to represent ~300 million tonnes of copper metal, making it a globally significant accumulation of the red metal. The geological and geochemical manifestation of these mineralizing systems have been well documented. Specifically, exploration models based on alteration zonation and trace element geochemistry have been developed and successfully deployed in the province since the late 1960’s. As a result of post Laramide extension and deposition, much of the province is covered by post-mineral rocks or sediments, and it can be argued that the greatest residual potential for future discoveries is located within the covered regions. Consequently, geophysical datasets are playing a more prominent role in integrated targeting of porphyry systems. In this extended abstract, we present a series of observations and interpretations of geophysical data from various deposits in the province with the goal of developing an empirical model to guide selection of geophysical method, interpret subsequent results and ultimately contribute to future exploration success.


Brendan Howe is the Technical Manager of Exploration at Teck Resources. Prior to joining Teck he worked for Barrick Gold as a Senior Geophysicist. He completed a combined BSc. / B.Comm in Geology-Finance from the Australian National University. Brendan is a past chair of the BC Geophysical Society.