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Hydrogeologic challenges for data collection in the field

Mineral resources are often associated with complex geologic regimes that present challenges for conceptual thought, investigatory methods, data analysis, and numerical modelling. Geologic terrains that contain varied materials, mineralogic alteration, significant structure, hydrothermal activity, permafrost, and subsurface gas present challenging environments for a hydrogeologist.

In many instances, traditional hydrogeologic field techniques must be adapted, methods and equipment borrowed from other industries, or even equipment specifically manufactured for the task to ensure that the required quantity and quality of data is collected. The value of experienced field hydrogeologists cannot be underestimated as they apply the skills of the driller, engineer, plumber, general contractor and hydrogeologist under one hat.

Recent hydrogeologic field programs have yielded innovative solutions from many of our staff in Water Management. Three such adaptations are described in the following bullet points.
• Methodology development and installation of groundwater piezometers within high temperature hydrothermal and H2S gas-bearing aquifers, utilising low-cost plastic materials, to depths over 500m
• Design and construction of artesian wellheads for arctic climates that allow for multiple instrumentation strings (thermistors, pressure transducers) to be installed down hole. Design also allows for simple groundwater sampling during the winter months, using a compressed air blow back system to remove water within the active zone that could potentially damage the wellhead and surface completions
• Design and coordination with a manufacturer to produce stainless steel cement baskets for HQ core-hole piezometers with internal diameters larger than presently available in the marketplace. The larger internal diameter in these cement baskets allow for completion of higher quality hydrogeologic tests and data collection in exploration drill holes

Adapting standard hydrogeologic methods or applying unusual techniques or adapting techniques from other industries is essential if we are to maximise the data collection and benefit to our clients. SRK is able to draw on the wide global experience of our water resources personnel to meet the specific challenges of a very wide range of geological and mining environments around the world. SRK can thereby assist our clients in making the best decisions for the operational, economic and environmental aspects of projects.

Matt Hartmann:

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