Advanced Resource Assessment Methods
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Strategy and Approach:
Information from mineral-resource assessments is used for making wise decisions concerning land use and for shaping minerals-related domestic and foreign policy. Although the USGS has been the world leader in quantitative estimation of undiscovered mineral resources, opportunities now exist to make significant improvements and correct known problems. With the following products, MRP will be able to better serve the decision-makers and the taxpayers.
- Task 1: Develop digital quantitative mineral-deposit models that describe the relative frequencies and relationships of geologic attributes useful to mineral-resource and mineral-environmental assessments. Statistically analyze and summarize the frequencies of mineralogy, associated rock types, host rock types, and spatially associated deposit types by subtype of porphyry copper deposit. Prepare paper on porphyry copper subtype characteristics. Supply porphyry copper information to Global Assessment Project and to Task 2 of this project. Gather mineralogy, associated rock types, host rock types, and spatially associated deposit types by subtype information on porphyry related deposit types such as polymetallic replacement and skarns and on sedimentary exhalative zinc-lead deposits which are a major supplier of metals.
- Task 2: Determine local and regional tectonic/structural settings of mineral deposits by type and integrate these data with the other parts of digital models. The overall objective of this task is to quantify mineral deposit models for the purposes of making more accurate predictions of undiscovered mineral resources, as well as estimating extensions to reserves in established mining districts. Data that characterizes the regional and local tectonic/structural settings of mineral deposits by type will be collected and integrated with other parts of the digital models.
- Task 3: Construct economic filters that can be used on all mineral-deposit types. Determine the need for revising the tonnage model in those cases where, within one exploration setting, some deposits have been discovered and the remaining undiscovered deposits might be smaller than the general model. A filter can be modified as economic conditions change, allowing societal values to also be evaluated. Because our goal is to provide unbiased information in a form useful for the decision-maker, we must make and use economic filters and consider measures of societal values.
- Task 4: Improve the MARK3 simulator by making its interface more user friendly, better documenting features and models, and incorporating economic filters. The UNIX FORTRAN version of MARK3 has been converted to a PC version that includes extensive documentation on the three-part assessment method and on the various deposit models. The goal of this task is to continue development of the PC version in order to include economic filters.
- Task 5: Advanced methods of industrial mineral assessments. Better classifications making use of the properties of industrial minerals will improve our assessments and assist other government agencies. The task will test advanced technologies to aid in industrial mineral assessments.
- Task 6: Develop a method for forecasting short-term mineral exploration and development activity. The U.S. Forest Service has asked for help in predicting mineral activity over the next 5 to 15 years on National Forest lands - a time horizon too short for many undiscovered deposits to have an effect. The task is designed to address this need and to include outreach activities to help focus our research.
- Task 7: Develop the technologies that consistently combine geoscience information to make unbiased estimates in mineral assessments. Research on method development to combine geologic attributes to make unbiased estimates of such probabilities needs to continue. With digital mineral-deposit models it might be possible to make unbiased estimates of the probability that a deposit exists at a place on a map and therefore make an objective "favorability" map. Recent advances made with probabilistic neural networks suggest they might be able to do this by learning from digital mineral deposit models the relationships that can then be applied with GIS information.
Major planned products:
- The digital mineral deposit models containing geology, mineralogy, spatially associated deposit types, structural information, geochemistry, and geophysics will allow specific probabilities to be estimated for classifying deposits into types and estimation of probabilities of occurrence, given barren population information.
- The quantitative attributes could then be used in the objective identification and classification of permissive terranes in resource assessments.
- There will be technologies that consistently and objectively combine geoscience information to make unbiased estimates in mineral assessments.
- Economic models for various price, depth, remoteness, and deposit-type categories will be available. Cost filters must be converted to a form that could be used with the MARK3 program and allow easy testing of alternative economic assumptions.
Project publications on the web:
- Singer, D.A., ed., 2002, Abstracts for the Symposium on the Application of Neural Networks to the Earth Sciences; U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 02-315, http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of02-315/
- Singer, D.A., Berger, V.I., and Moring, B.C., 2002, Porphyry copper deposits of the world: database, maps, and preliminary analysis; U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 02-268, http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of02-268/
- Singer, D.A., Menzie, W.D., Sutphin, David, Mosier, D.L., and Bliss, J.D., 2001, Mineral deposit density-an update, in Schulz, K.J., ed., Contributions to global mineral resource assessment research: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1640-A, p. A1-A13. http://pubs.usgs.gov/prof/p1640a/
- Long, Keith R., and Singer, D.A., 2001, A simplified economic filter for open-pit mining and heap-leach recovery of copper in the United States; U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 01-218, 21p. http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of01-018/
- Singer, D.A., Menzie, W.D., and Long, K.R., 1998, A simplified economic filter for open-pit gold-silver mining in the United States: U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 98-207, 10 p. http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of98-207/
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