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Role of mining geologist in exploration

Modern-day mining geologists may have been educated as geological engineers as geoscientists. If the degree is in geological engineering, a curriculum in engineering science, geosciences, geotechnics, mining, and economics has provided him or her with a variety of capabilities that extend from exploration to the development and utilization of minerals. If the degree is in geosciences, a background in the physical and natural sciences, ore petrology, stratigraphy, and geomorphology affords a basis for a deeper understanding of the geological characteristics of mineral deposits. When geologists of either background enter the mining profession and make the best use of their experiences, their capabilities broaden and deepen according to their natural talents to a point where the wording on the diploma is immaterial. Deepening becoming a specialist may require postgraduate study and additional diplomas. In any event, college residence is a preparatory step; professional work and professional growth define the career. Mining geologists have a powerful set of tools and concepts at their disposal, and many or these are associated with the unprecedented - even frightening growth of all technology and science in this century. These are the tools and concepts that are described in the remainder of this lecture notes; they reflect an almost overwhelming range in genetic models for ore deposits, an integration of geology and geophysics, the appearance of exploration geochemistry, a revolution in logistics, and the appearance of an entire new group of computer assisted sciences.

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CLASSIFICATION OF ORE RESERVES Classes of Ore Reserves: Paradoxically enough, no one can be sure how much ore there is in a mine until it has been mined out; therefore, at best, ore reserve figures are estimates rather than certainties. The tonnage of ore that is exposed on all sides by workings can be calculated with reasonable accuracy, but the tonnage that exists beyond or below any workings can be estimated only by making certain assumptions. It is, therefore, conventional to divide the ore reserve into categories based on the degree of assurance of its existence. Of several classifications that have been proposed, all based on the same principle, the oldest and probably the most widely used divides the ore reserve into three classes as follows: 1. Positive Ore or Ore Blocked Out. Ore exposed and sampled on four sides, i.e., by levels above and below and by raises or winzes at the ends of the block. This definition applies to veins; for wide ore bodies the workings must be supplemented by crosscuts. 2. Probable Ore: Ore exposed and sampled either on two or no three sides. (Authorities differ.) 3. Possible Ore (geologists ore): Ore exposed on only one side, its other dimensions being a matter of reasonable projection. Some engineers use an arbitrary extension of 50 to 100 feet. Others assume extension for half the exposed dimension. Although these definitions are relatively rigid, they fail to specify one important factor - the distance between the workings that expose the ore. This factor is pertinent because there is always a chance that somewhere within the block there may be a barren patch, and this chance is greater as the distance between exposures is greater. Therefore, in order that ore may be considered Proved or Blocked Out, the workings in which sampling has been done should not be more than some specified distance apart; yet no arbitrary standard can be set up, because different types of ore vary in their regularity and dependability. In a spotty erratic ore body the spacing must be closer than would be permissible in a large uniform ore body., In a general way a fair rule in gold quartz veins below influence of alteration is that no point in the block shall be over fifty feet from the points sampled. In limestone or andesite replacements, as by gold or lead or copper, the radius must be less. In defined lead and copper lodes, or in large lenticular bodies such as the Tennessee copper mines, the radius may often be considerably greater, - say one hundred feet. In gold deposits of such extraordinary regularity of values as the Witwatersrand Bankets, it can well be two hundred or two hundred and fifty feet. The regularity of the ore determines not only the maximum permissible spacing, but also the number of sides on which the ore must be exposed in order to assure its presence. Although ore of an erratic nature needs to be blocked out on four sides, as called for in the conventional definition of positive ore, a uniform ore body whose structure is well understood might be counted on with reasonable confidence if it were exposed on only two sides. Hoover, therefore, proposed categories based on more flexible definitions which allow some leeway to the judgment of the individual: Proved ore: Ore where there is practical no risk of failure of continuity. Probable Ore: Ore where there is some risk yet warrantable justification for assumption of continuity
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Prospective Ore: Ore which cannot be included as Proved or Possible, nor definitely known or stated in any terms of tonnage. Another set of terms, which allow rather wide latitude to the individual, has been adopted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U. S. Bureau of Mines. Instead of Proved, Probable, and Prospective, these Bureaus use Measured, Indicated, and Inferred, defined as follows: Measured ore is ore for which tonnage of computed from dimensions revealed in outcrops, trenches, workings, and drill holes, and for which the grade is computed from the results of detailed sampling, and measurements are so closely spaced, and the geologic character is defined so well, that the size, shape, and mineral content are well established. The computed tonnage and grade are judged to be accurate within limits which are stated, and no such limit is judged to differ from the computed tonnage or grade by more than 20 per cent. Indicated ore is ore for which tonnage and grade are computed partly from specific measurements, samples, or production data, and partly from projection for a reasonable distance on geologic evidence. The sites available for inspection, measurement, and sampling are too widely or otherwise inappropriately spaced to outline the ore completely or to establish its grade throughout. Inferred ore is ore for which quantitative estimates are based largely on broad knowledge of the geologic character of the deposit and for which there are few, if any, samples or measurements. The estimates are based on an assumed continuity or repetition for which there is geologic evidence; this evidence may include comparison with deposits of similar type. Bodies that are completely concealed may be included if there is specific geologic evidence of their presence. Estimates of inferred ore should include a statement of the special limits within which the inferred ore may lie. This classification leaves room for considerable deduction from geological background. It is well suited to its tended purpose, the estimation of the reserves of a district or a nation. It is less satisfactory for valuing a single mine. McLaughlin classification of ore deposits according to the assurance of ore supply that they are ordinarily capable of providing with the amount of exploration that is customary in good current practice". According to the categories of risk involved sets up three classes: I. Plenemensurate ore bodies those capable of being fully measured and sampled at an early stage in the operations. II. Partimensurate ore bodies those in which prospects for ore in addition to proved reserves remain a substantial element until the later stages of the life of the mines based on them. III. Extramensurate ore bodies those difficult to explore and measure much in advance of mining, in which the value of prospects for ore based on geologic evidence exceeds the value of proved reserves throughout most of the life of mines supported by them. Class I includes most placer deposits and other ore bodies which have definite bottoms, whether limited by the depth of oxidation or enrichment as in the case of lateritic bauxite ores and most porphyry coppers, or by shallow structural bottoms as at Cobalt, Ontario, or bounded by property lines as in the outcrop mines of the Rand. Class II includes a great variety of ore deposits which have in common the characteristic that the ore is likely to extend much farther or deeper than the limits to which development can
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economically be carried at any one time, or that even if individual ore bodies have been delimited there is good reason to expect that new ones will be found beyond such limits. Class III includes deposits whose extension or repetition depends almost wholly on geological evidence. Such deposits rarely have large developed ore reserves and could be assigned only a moderate value on conventional methods of estimation. They periodically face the danger of exhaustion yet they may, nevertheless, enjoy long and profitable lives if bold and intelligent development is kept well ahead of extraction. Among such deposits are some of the massive sulphide copper mantos of Morococha, Peru; similar lead-zinc-silver mantos and pipes of Tintic, Utah; and small, structurally controlled ore bodies such as those of Bendigo, Victoria.

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MINERAL EXPLORATION PROCEDURES AND APPLICATION OF EXPLORATION TECHNIQUES ON MINERAL AND COAL DEPOSITS The role of Programming in mineral exploration Procedures forms a vital and initial step towards scientific investigation. Modern exploratory activity can be relatively complex, involving several or many different sorts of work, often by different people over a relatively long period of time. There is often a need to evaluate the rate of progress, the suitability of technique, and the degree of encouragement provided by the results. It is quite unlike individualistic work such as the lone prospector used to do. Consequently, major benefits arise from the explicit definition of the work to be done, i.e. the tools to be used, the sequence in which they are to be used, decisions necessary before commitment to certain courses of action and so on. Stated programs of work are helpful to the person directly in charge because they help him to see the job in perspective, draw attention to the need for resources, the need to communicate and the need to co-ordinate etc. They usually tend to focus attention on certain vital stages at which favourable assessments of the results to hand are necessary or desirable before initiation of dependent or subsequent activities. Programmes of work are helpful to supervisors because they enable a definite understanding of the work to be done and usually assist comprehension of why. They provide a basis for intelligent interest, periodical review, and discussion without excessive involvement in or distraction by detail. Programs are helpful to the individuals directly concerned with limited parts of the projects because they help generate the feeling of being part of a team with a definite purpose, the achievement of which can be a major source of satisfaction. They emphasise the need for coordination and communication at a level where these aspects are often deficient, and permit individuals to recognise their part in proper perspective with respect to the overall job. Thus programs are helpful to , and at, all levels of the organization. Perhaps most importantly of all programmes is the foundation for schedules, and programmes and schedules are fundamental to control. Without control, resources cannot be expended with optimum efficiency, and this reduces the likelihood of success and therefore the realisation of the objective justifying the whole venture. A simple programme typical of many and stated very broadly might be as follows: (a) Selection of area by broad geological considerations, (b) Acquisition of area for exploration activities, (c) Reconnaissance exploration, possibly by broad geochemical, geological and geophysical methods, (d) Selection of areas of particular interest as indicated by the reconnaissance work, (e) Detailed local geological ,geochemical and geophysical work, (f) Conclusive activities such as costing, drilling, shaft sinking etc. (g) Feasibility studies, (h) Decision to mine, hold for future or surrender, (i) Appropriate action. As each project has its own particular characteristics, the program should be chosen to fit it individually, and as each frequently is of different merit compared to others, this may influence the resources and hence the methods employed.
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GUIDES IN MINERAL EXPLORATION (i) Geochemical guides (ii) Groundwater as a guide (iii) Geo-botanical and Bio-chemical guides. Geochemical Guides Proximity to an ore body is indicated in some instances by the presence of metallic ions in rocks, soil or groundwater. Even though the element in question may be present in traces so small as to be detectable only by delicate chemical tests, a map showing its distribution may disclose target rings surrounding an ore body. Groundwater as a Guide Groundwater in a mineralized region, especially where sulphides are undergoing oxidation, contains metals and sulphates in amount ranging from traces to so much that the water is undrinkable. If metals are present in the water, they are likely to be absorbed by the limonite or by the manganese dioxide associated with it, and show up as traces on analysis. Such metals may include Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni, Co, Mo, W, Sb, and Bi. Geobotanical and Biochemical Guides The possibility of using vegetation as a guide to ore depends; firstly (and probably least in importance), on the suggestion that metals and other elements may modify the appearance of foliage; secondly, on the fact that certain elements play a role in determining what species of plants which are able or unable to grow in a given place; and then, on the well-established observation that certain plants can take up and concentrate elements selectively from soil solutions. Some species of plants are poisoned by certain elements in the soil, while others, if they do not actually thrive on the same substances, are at least able to tolerate them and thus grow more abundance where competition is lacking. Rock Alteration-An important factor for observation. 1. Nature of Alteration as a guide The mineralogical changes that are so common in rocks surrounding epigenetic ore deposits usually involve the introduction of certain chemical elements and the removal of others, but occasionally the chemical change is negligible and the elements that were present originally merely rearrange themselves into new assemblages of minerals. In monomineralic rocks, such as pure limestones and sandstones, the few elements present do not provide the makings of new minerals and in the absence of introduced material, alteration is recognizable only by difference in texture or colour. Common alteration minerals characteristic of various types of mineralization are: (a) With hypothermal mineralization: garnet, amphiboles, pyroxenes, tourmaline, biotite (b) With meso-thermal mineralization (and also in many deposits classed as hypothermal and epithermal): sericite, chloride, carbonates, and silica. (c) With epithermal mineralization: some sericite, often much chloride and carbonate, adularia or alunite. 2 Hypogene Zoning as a Guide All of the foregoing mineralogical variations might be regarded as aspects of hypogene zoning, but zoning in the stricter sense the progressive change in mineralization along channel ways from source to surface or outward from a central axis is serviceable in a somewhat different way. It finds its chief usefulness in the epithermal and the shallower of
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the mesothermal deposits, where noticeable changes may take place either laterally within the limits of a single companys holding or in depth within the limits accessible to mining. At horizons above the top of the ore zone the vein fracture is often a mere slip . Sparse quartz starts to come in with depth, usually at a narrow stringer along the slip. The quartz increases rapidly with depth and the top of the ore zone lies not far below the top of the quartz. Base sulphides are sparse here .. Base sulphides increase with depth and reach a maximum at the heart of zone. Fragments of wall rock cemented by vein matter become abundant at this horizon; many are completely replaced by silica and sulphides. Here the vein attains its maximum width and this width usually continues to the lowest explored horizon. 3 OXIDATION PRODUCTS The oxidation products of an ore body constitute a type of guide that has been used effectively by miners and prospectors since time immemorial, but modern understanding of the chemistry and geology of oxidation have made it even more effective. Metals in the Oxidized zones Gold Of the familiar metals, gold is the most resistant to weathering. Particles of native gold accumulate in fractures and voids in the rock and often produce spectacularly high assays at the immediate surface. In addition, chemical leaching of associated material tends to concentrate the gold. For these reasons, high gold values in the top few feet of the oxidized zone are not to be taken too seriously. They demand attention, of course, but there is little fear that they will fail to receive it. Gold is not complete insoluble; it is converted into soluble chloride by nascent chlorine for whose generation the requisite chemicals are present in oxidizing deposits :sulphuric acid is always available, manganese dioxide is common, especially in leptothermal deposits, and salts is at hand, particularly in arid climates. Accordingly, many instances of migration of gold in the presence of manganese have been described. But as a rule the migration is local and produces small rich seams and pockets rather than a well defined zone of enrichment. However, there are a few well-authenticated cases of a thin supergene gold zone at the top of a massive pyrite or pyrrhotite body. Other metals found in the oxidized zone are tin, lead, zinc, copper, silver, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum and chromium. STRATIGRAPHIC AND LITHOLOGIC GUIDES If ore occurs exclusively in a given sedimentary bed, the bed constitutes an ideal stratigraphic guide. Less perfect, but still serviceable as a guide is a bed or group of beds which contains most of the ore bodies even though other stratigraphic horizons may not be entirely barren. If the containing rock is not a sedimentary formation but an intrusive body or a volcanic flow, the same principles are applicable so far as ore search is concerned, but since in such cases the guide cannot properly be called stratigraphic, the term lithologic is more appropriate. The ore may be syngenetic (an original part of the body of rock) or it may be epigenetic (introduced into the rock) 1 In Syngenetic Deposits If the ore is an original part of a body of rock, the rock itself will serve as a guide; that is the ore will be found within the particular rock formation and will be absent outside it. The
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location is most precise in layered rocks especially sediments but it is definite enough to be useful even in homogeneous igneous rocks If the ore consists of a bed in a sedimentary formation one need only know the stratigraphic sequence and the structure of the beds in order to predict where the outcrop will be found or at what depth the ore will be at any given place. For this purpose a structure contour map is the most convenient device for depicting the shape of the ore bed and projecting its position. Syngenetic deposits of igneous origin are usually less regular than sedimentary beds. However in some thick sills and lopoliths, the rock constituents have a very regular stratiform arrangement. 2 In Epigenetic deposits Ore that has been introduced into rocks may show strain partiality to certain formations whether the ore follows fractures or replaces formations bodily. Replacement ore bodies differ from most sedimentary (syngenetic) deposits in that not all of the favourable stratum is ore; replacement within the bed is often controlled by some additional loci which may consist of fold axes. The rocks most receptive to gold seem to be those which contain chloride or other minerals of similar composition, although chlorite in the immediate vicinity of the ore is often altered to sericite. There are more gold deposits in chloritic slates and phyllites and in basic to intermediate igneous rocks than in quartzites, rhyolites or limestones. 3 Competent vs. Incompetent Formations In some districts, at least competent rocks are more hospitable hosts to ore than incompetent ones, and surely this is what would be expected from their mode of failure in fracturing. Competent as the term is used here, refers to rocks that are relatively strong but, when they do fail, break as though they were brittle material. Incompetent refers to rocks which are weak and have a tendency to deform plastically or by flow. Under most conditions quartzites, conglomerate and fresh igneous rocks are competent. Incompetent are shales, slates , schist and limestone also igneous rocks that have been altered to sericite, chloride or serpentine.

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(i) Ground Geophysics One of the principal advantages to ground electrical surveys is their capability of making direct contact with the earth. For this reason, electrical methods are widely used in detailed exploration for ore bodies. Ground magnetic methods, like aeromagnetic methods, are used as aids to geologic mapping as well as in searching for ore bodies. Ground electromagnetic methods are in general use where massive sulphide deposits are sought; as with airborne electromagnetics, there are dozen of separate techniques. Ground radiometric surveys are not as often applied to geologic mapping as are airborne radiometric surveys; instead, their main use is in searching for uranium ore bodies. Gravity methods are applied to regional geologic mapping, and they have a flow-up or supporting function in the interpretation of other geophysical anomalies where gravity and magnetic response from an iron ore body are compared. One use of gravity geophysics, and of refraction seismic methods as well, is determining the depth and configuration of bedrock in alluvium-covered areas. (ii)Airborne magnetometer survey (Aeromagnetics) The airborne magnetometer is the most important new tool in mining exploration. This new airborne method is developed as the result of construction of more sensitive instruments and has proved to be a distance cost advantage as well as increasing chances for one discovery. A typical recent discovery was the large magnetite deposits in Labrador, Canada. Magnetic peaks or highs over an iron ore deposit were recorded by the airborne magnetometer. In a number of cases, the magnetic data so recorded was so positive that ground survey parties were despatched within twenty-four hours of the survey flights. Many large mining companies are at present using this instrument in finding deposits or iron, nickel, titanium and asbestos. (iii) Electromagnetic Method This is an important development in the field of airborne geophysics. In principle, the survey is carried out by creating an alternating electromagnetic field from a large coil around the fuselage. During the flight of the plane, this electromagnetic field induces secondary alternating fields in the portion of the ground passed over by the plane. These secondary fields vary in intensity and travelling time depending on the distance to and the conductivity of the ground. The effects of these fields are recorded in a special receiving unit built into the aircraft wings. By the airborne electromagnetic method, it is possible to detect sulphide ore bodies, shear zones and other structures of economic importance. Ground methods: (i)Gravity Methods The purpose of gravity surveys is to measure small local variations (anomalies) in the force of gravity, as cased by geologic features as anticlines, salt domes, faults and dikes. The application of this method like all other geophysical methods is based upon the difference in the physical properties of different materials relative to one another. A salt some for instance is composed of lighter materials than the surrounding sediments and this will usually give a slightly smaller gravitational force than the surrounding sediments. In the case of an igneous body the gravitational force would be larger. In as much as the geologic features are very small compared with the earths volume, the anomalies produced are of small magnitude. Thus it has been necessary to develop very
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sensitive instruments to record these very small changes in the total force of gravity. Pendulums torsion balance and gravimeters are used in most gravity surveys. (ii) Magnetic Methods Magnetic exploration is the oldest geophysical method. Magnetic exploration is based upon the variations of the earths magnetic field caused by varying magnetic properties in subsurface rocks. In mining exploration, magnetic methods have been employed chiefly in the search for magnetic minerals like magnetite, chromite and pyrrhotite. Magnetic prospecting is less useful in areas of sedimentary rocks and in petroleum exploration except to locate basement structures. The instruments employed in magnetic methods are the dip needle, horizontal and vertical magnetometers. (iii) Seismic Methods Seismic methods are the most widely used of all current geophysical techniques, especially in oil exploration. Seismic prospecting uses waves which are artificially produced by explosions just below the surface. These waves are returned to the surface by either reflection or refraction. From the examination of the time required for the waves to reach the detectors placed at various point on the surfaced, it is possible to determine the depth and structure of the underlying strata. With the awakened interest in oil under the continental shelves, seismic prospecting has been expanded into off shore areas. Although the seismic methods of prospecting have been highly acclaimed in the petroleum industry , they are of very little use in mining exploration. (iv) Electrical Methods The electrical methods of prospecting are divisible into two groups (a) Self potential methods that measure the natural electrical potential of the ground and (b) Induction methods which measure the currents and potentials applied artificially into the ground. The self potential method measures the natural potential in the ground developed as the result of electrochemical action between minerals (especially sulphides) and ground water solutions with which they come into contact. This method is useful in the search for sulphide ore bodies. In the induction method, the current is forced into the ground, and measured. Electrical methods do not penetrate into great depths like some other geophysical tools; consequently, they are not used to any extent in oil exploration. Their most useful application is in the search for shallow mineral deposits. In addition, electrical methods are applied in engineering geology where the depth of bedrock can be located for prospective dam site and locations for other engineering projects. (vi) Geothermal Methods It is a well-known fact that the temperature in the earths crust increases with depth. The usual rate of increase is about 10 C in 30 meters. The method uses resistance thermometers which are lowered into the ground. The recorded temperatures are converted into gradients. These temperature logs are valuable in indicating the presence of water and gas flow in oil wells. (v) Radiometric methods With the development and production of nuclear energy, there is a worldwide exploration for uranium and thorium.
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The unique property (radioactivity) possessed by uranium and thorium minerals has made prospecting for these minerals relatively less difficult. Radiometric methods defect such radioactivity. The instruments used in radiometric prospecting are the Geiger counter and the Scintillation counter. Many major discoveries of rich uranium deposits throughout the world are attributed to radiometric methods. Diamond Core Drilling in exploration Diamond core drilling is the most versatile of all methods, and it is designed specifically for mineral exploration. Diamond drilling is relatively expensive, but it can be done in most surface and underground locations and holes can be directed at any angle. It is the only method capable of providing a complete record of geologic structure and rock texture. It is also the only commonly used method that will deliver samples for geo-mechanics testing. Even though diamond drilling has broad capabilities, it has limitations. Some kinds of broken and abrasive rocks are nearly impossible to core at a reasonable cost. There are special methods for recovery of core in soft rock (protective sheaths and tubes), but recovery is generally poor in soft or thoroughly sheared zones. Careful use of drilling mud aids core recovery, but if recovery is still too low, it may be necessary to collect sludge (bit cuttings) as well as core. Sludge makes a less reliable sample than core, but it is often saved as a matter of insurance until the core is recovered. In diamond drilling the sample is cut by a diamond-armoured bit, recovered in the inner tube of the core barrel, and brought to the surface. In wire-line diamond drilling, the most widely used methods the inner tube is hoisted through the drill rods without removing the rods from the hole. The circulating medium may be diesel fuel where a delicate permafrost condition or water-soluble rocks are involved, but in most areas it is water with various combinations of mud and other additives, which lubricate the bit and core, stabilize and seal the hole walls, and carry the cuttings to the surface. Mud engineers are important consultants to drilling projects, and their work is much more sophisticated than the title indicates. Although geologists would prefer to have the largest possible core for study, a smalldiameter core is generally accepted since the cost of diamond coring increases with hole diameter as well as with depth. Also smaller the core diameter, the greater is the attainable depth with small, less-expensive, portable drill rigs. In continental Europe, core size is expressed directly in millimetres; in English-speaking countries, the letter code designation below in more common. Size Code XR EX EXT AX AXT Core Diameter (mm) 18.3 21.4 23.8 29.4 32.5 Hole Diameter (mm) 30 36 36 47 47
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BX NX

42.1 54.8

59 75

Geo-techniques Logging In addition to the data given in geologic logs, geotechnical logs require more detail on discontinuities and they may require an estimate of rock strength. The angle between a discontinuity and the axis of the core is measured in a special rock mechanics goniometer or more crudely with a simple clinometer made from a celluloid protector. The absolute orientation of a series of discontinuities can sometimes be calculated from their attitudes in two or three non parallel drill holes or by taking an oriented core from one drill hole; all of these techniques are explained and illustrated in a book on geological engineering by Goodman (1976). Discontinuities can sometimes be oriented from geophysical logs in a single hole, or they can be seen in an oriented borehole camera picture. The orientation of drill-core information is especially important in mine design; in as much as none of the existing techniques is entirely satisfactory, there is considerable emphasis on the development of better tools. Rock strength information is obtained from unsplit pieces of core. It is also expressed in core logs by rock quality designation (RQD). A format of geotechnical logs is shown in Figure (5.1); this log form is taken from a comprehensive report on the logging of rock cores for engineering purposes. Special hydrologic tests can be made by keeping exploration drilled holes open for use as observation wells or by pumping water into open sections of exploration drill holes that have been seal off by packers.

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