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Geomodelling solves a series of problems that mining companies, oil and natural gas companies and even construction companies face from time to time. Geologic modeling has the power to create digitalized representations of specific regions of the earth’s crust. Geological observations from several research projects contribute to the 2D modeling and 3D modeling efforts of the portions of the earth’s crust. Simplistically speaking, geomodel is the 3D representation of a geological map that also contains a description of the physical entities. A reliable geomodel can shed new light on the natural resources, predict natural hazards and quantify the geological processes.

Geomodelling and architecture

Geomodels can help an architect cum planner build structurally safe and environmentally friendly reservoirs. The same is true for wells, oil rigs and natural gas reservoirs that are safe for human workers. It integrates elements of stratigraphy, diagenesis, paleoclimatology, structural geology, and sedimentology. The process needs software that can fuse data from all these fields to create a perfect 3D representation of the surface topography, inner crusts, and the composite layers. This model includes the rock boundaries, intrusions, and faults. It should also support the volumetric representation of the different components and the physical processes that define the character of the subsurface.

Sometimes learning about the mineralization is not enough

Learning about the mineral deposits of a particular region is a massive part of the geology. The ore should be large enough to be profitable for the concerned mining company. Geological modeling helps these companies estimate the probable size of the mineral deposit, the economic value of the deposition and the likely cost of technology necessary for mining. The process is quite similar for oil and natural gas deposits. The rule of thumb states that while determining the economics of mineral ore, you should not discount the waste. In most cases, companies mine out more waste than minerals. That is why you need to think about the utilization or disposal of the waste beforehand.

You need software that can calibrate the size of any target deposit or formation, as well as the surrounding lithos. 3D mapping of “dry holes” (places that do not have ore) can help your engineering team understand the characters of the layers surrounding it. Your team can study the lithology and stratigraphy of the geographical location with the help of the 3D modeling software.

Why do Geologists require 3D modeling software from time to time?

No matter how complicated the reconstruction process is, your model should be simple enough for anyone’s understanding. The 3D model that the software generates should be simple enough so that your higher authorities, company CEO, engineers as well as the workers can understand in precise details. The basic understanding of the geo-statistics of the area will help them utilize the resources better and make the process more economical. Standard procedures involve the collection of spatial data that can construct the interpolation by using semi-variograms. A good geology software should be able to support the spatial uncertainty and develop a model that is as close to reality as possible.

As one goes deeper, the frequency of finding groundwater increases. Only under the “perfect” conditions, gas and oil occupy the space between the rocks. While people are busy modeling natural gas and oil, engineers and geologists need to worry about the adjacent groundwater reservoirs. Understanding the fluid saturation not only gives them a way to calculate the hydrocarbon saturation, but it also allows them to model the size of the pore throat size accurately. The accurate modeling enables the prediction of capillary action that determines the fluid saturation levels in the region.

What are the traits of a decent geological software?

Geomodelling can also determine the entire structural framework of a geographical location. The main formational boundaries, folding, erosion and faulting effects contribute to realistic 3D modeling with the help of geological software. The cell dimensions can determine the resolution of the 3D mapping. A great software application can help city builders plan new buildings, parks, water reservoirs, and stadiums while keeping the safety of construction in mind. The ability of an area to support new construction work depends on the composition of the substrata. The correct analysis of the soil and inner layers can help in the safe construction of modern skyscrapers, new stadiums, malls and more.

The basic skeleton of the model should be precise enough

Any 3D modeling begins with the structural skeleton construction. Any geologist must first attempt to understand the structural regime of the major faults, folds, boundaries and fluid saturations. The only way to construct the models accurately is by collecting enough data to fill the gaps. The lack of a proper software application for data management and data analysis can affect the quality of the structure. Sometimes, the lack of enough usable data makes the construction of the skeleton more difficult than it should be. Without the correct structure, geologists find it almost impossible to determine the levels of mineralization and alternation. The development of a basic skeleton structure can always make the prediction process more accessible for everyone involved in the process.

Start from a comprehensive viewpoint and move to a more precise model

The software tools that allow the construction of geological models from a broad regional perspective provides a better throughput. Your structure should begin from a wider angle and then focus on the specific smaller areas of interest. It applies to new construction work and mining work equally. You can determine the economies at a deposit-scale by first analyzing the generic area-based information you have already collected in 3-dimensional map forms. The structure controls the deposits and fluid mechanics inside the earth. The kind of software ideal for pit mapping should allow room for the natural discontinuity of structures. Understanding the trends of structural disruptions and anomalies in the generic regions should help in understanding the complex structure of the target location. The application and the tools should have user-friendly APIs that aid the safety planning process irrespective of the complexity of the structure.

The density of data will contribute to the model quality

Having the best software for geology is not enough. You need reliable data for the reconstruction of the model. A 3D model requires all the data you can get your hands on, and this does not exclude surface mapping, geomorphic analyses, and geophysics data. There are times when geologists and trainees have enough data, but the data is highly heterogeneous. The lack of uniformity restricts the understanding of the information. Data never turns into information without the correct definition of the inter-data relationship. It calls for a robust data management system and a database that provides data security. Your software should also be able to support integration with GIS on demand. Running an exploratory data analysis can save you from this problem. It will explore the relationship between different datasets, group appropriate data and explore the relationship between different domains of information you may have already collected from the site. These can include physical traits, mineral compositions, chemical assays and even rock types from your area of interest.

Which software should you pick?

Off late, several scientists, programmers, and researchers have been working together to create multi-functional modeling techniques that can combine the outputs from several software programs to build a complete three-dimensional geomodel. It includes Airborne Electro Magnetic (AEM) procedures for obtaining supplementary data. It leads to the correlation of seismic data and borehole data. The complexities arise from inconsistent erosions, cross-cutting valleys, glaciotectonic properties and delta units. Modeling software programs take into account the geographical data and the geophysical data to render accurate representations of the area of interest. However, some of these composite software applications require programming knowledge and training. It is not possible for geologists without the necessary command of programming to control these applications. Some of these also have specific system requirements. If you need a powerful tool for rendering 3D models of complex geographical areas, you should ensure that you have the resources to run the programs.

Your choice of software will depend on a lot of factors that go beyond application reviews. The primary driving factor should be the purpose of your model. Geological 3D models have multiple uses, some of which, we have already discussed. For example – the models for early-stage drilling for ores will be very different from models that account for the inclusion of new subterranean waterlines. The necessary data and fundamental parameters of each model development process are going to be different. The plethora of data can include alternation, structure, mineralization, comminution tests, geochemistry, predicted recovery, petrography and fluid compositions of the area. Which data you will focus on will depend on the model you would want to recreate. Several software programs support the creation of multifaceted 3D models, and there are others that are highly specialized for single purposes only. Your choice will depend upon the way you intend to use the application and tools.

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