Underground » Geology
This report presents the application of virtual reality programming and visualisation to the integration of disparate 3D and 4D data sets that are common to the mining environment. The project arose from a recognised need to:
- integrate large and disparate data sets that are obtained and accumulated during exploration, mine design, excavation and production;
- improve methods for the integration and visualisation of geological, geotechnical and engineering models so that their interpretation and transfer between disciplines can be optimised and utilised;
- develop methods for interactive linkages between real data, databases, models and visualisations;
- explore the strides made in computing technology and assess their applicability to problem solving (geological, engineering, management) in the mining industry.
Mines continually collect and store copious amounts of data. Data may include topographic maps, aerial and terrestrial images, magnetics, gravity, mine plans, subsurface borehole logs-both geophysical and descriptive, seismic reflection images, interpreted fault planes, coal and rock attribute data (quality, strength, geochemistry) to 4D monitoring data of gas release, strata instability and equipment movements;. To cope with these data, the industry has moved towards computer technology for storage, manipulation and assessment.
However, it is still up to people to mentally integrate, synthesise, interpret and assess the data. People must also transfer the knowledge and technology between disciplines (geology, engineering, surveying, accounting, management, contracting). As operations increase in complexity and diversity, the logistics of communicating effectively are becoming increasingly difficult. Technology and jargon becomes more diverse, computer hardware and software diverges, and staff turnover rates increase resulting in "corporate amnesia" and frustration. Therefore, any methods to improve human capability and reduce error and risk in exploration, mine design, planning and operations will assist in increasing mine safety and productivity.
The advent of high performance desktop and portable computers with fast floating point and integer processors and enhanced graphics rendering capabilities have made this technology widely accessible. Giant strides have been made in coal exploration and mining applications software, some of which are incorporating self-learning systems modelled on neural networks.
These developments can be coupled with changes in databases from relational tables to object-oriented, the advent of high-speed broad band-width communications and the birth of the internet (information super highway). These new technologies have liberated graphics visualisation in its many forms, from the realms of the movie mogul's Jurassic Park dinosaurs - to visualising the modern exploration and mining environment through a widening variety of specialist software packages.
This project demonstrates the application of virtual reality as a method to integrate disparate 3D geological, geophysical and mine planning data. The project added a time dimension to include capabilities for including time dependent data such as vehicle and equipment movement and monitoring data, eg. microseismic activity. Two case studies were conducted using underground and open cut mine site data made available by BHP Collieries (Appin and Tower Colliery area) and Callide Coalfields (Trap Gully Mine), respectively.