Sisprobe, a small France-based company, and PACIFIC, an H2020 project, are developing passive seismic methods for mineral exploration. Sisprobe’s main activity employs ambient-noise surface-wave tomography to image the upper few hundred metres at mineral exploration sites. Seismic noise sources generated by ocean waves, freight trains or minor tremors are used to determine the geological context of ore deposits, the structures that control the mineralisation, and the thickness and geometry of younger cover. Successful projects include magmatic PGE-Cu-Ni, porphyries, VMS and sedimentary Mn-Fe deposits. Sisprobe also uses optic fibres and Distributed Acoustic Sensing to monitor tailings dams. The PACIFIC project develops more advanced techniques such as extraction of body waves from the ambient noise signals in order to apply reflection seismic techniques, and the combination of down-hole and surface sensor arrays. The main test sites are the Marathon PGM-Cu deposit in Canada and the Kallak iron deposit in Sweden.

About the speaker

Nicholas Arndt is emeritus professor of petrology/geochemistry at University Grenoble Alpes and president of Sisprobe, a small company that uses ambient-noise seismology in mineral exploration. He has held academic positions in the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany, and has worked in the minerals industry. His main research interests include petrology and geochemistry of mafic and ultramafic rocks, origin of the continental crust, the early-Earth environment, magmatic ore deposits, and raw materials supply chains.