Mineral Resources

Detecting hydrocarbons, Kimberlite pipes and other resources with radiometric survey methods

Africa – the last frontier

Although Africa is known as a resource rich continent, it is the least explored continent of the world except of Antarctica. Many areas are still virgin territory regarding exploration of mineral resources, offering outstanding business opportunities to those who recognize mineral deposits first.

Transformative Technologies has a broad network across Africa and can help to uncover those hidden treasures.

Detection of Hydrocarbons

Radiometric mapping as a petroleum exploration tool began in the Twenties of the last century. It was observed repeatedly that the anomalously low radiation flux detected over petroleum basins correlates with existing subsurface hydrocarbon accumulations. Dr. Armin Bickel was one of those who made practical use of this effect and discovered oil fields in California with his method.

There are some theories about the geochemistry and physics that underlie radiometrics. The microseepage model is one of them. It was discovered that specific patterns of signal intensity of Potassium and Uranium can be watched over hydrocarbon accumulations. We plan to adjust our scintillation counters in a way that would allow us to measure total count, U count, K count and Th count at the same time.

Case study: Radiometric survey at an oil field in California

In 2015, we made a rough radiometric survey at Belridge South which is the fifth largest oil field of the Continental US. We crossed over it in a car on Highway 33 which is a public road in Southern California. The task was to find out if lower readings occur over the oil field as the theory and Bickel’s experience suggest.

The results were amazing:

We recorded a significant reduction in intensity over the oil field, as expected from the theory of Dr. Bickel. The changes in signal intensity correspond exactly with the boundaries of the oilfield.

The signal intensity outside of the oil field was 90-110 impulses per second. Within the oil field, the rate decreased to 70-90 ips which is 20-30% lower.

Detection of Kimberlite pipes

Kimberlite is the most important diamondiferous material on Earth, and kimberlite pipes are the most common primary source of diamonds. They usually have a round or oval, sometimes irregular shape at the surface and are relatively small in diameter (ranging from 1-2 kilometers down to several dozens of meters). They show specific radiometric anomalies that can be detected with our survey methods, even if they are buried under layers of sand, gravel or sediments.
When scanning an area for kimberlite pipes, the width of the grid determines if all or only few kimberlite pipes will be revealed. In a rough grid (see left picture), only pipes with a large diameter will be found, and those that will be crossed incidentally by one of the grid lines (displayed in green). Therefore, a width of max 100 meters is recommended (see picture in the middle).
Once the anomalies have been discovered, detailed scans have to be carried out in order to validate if the anomalies show the typical properties of a kimberlite pipe, and to depict its boundaries:
For getting an indication if a kimberlite pipe might contain diamonds or not (90% of them do not), other methods have to be applied which are not part of our portfolio. Radiation survey methods do not help since diamonds do not emit any radiation.

Detection of gold?

Dr. Bickel was successful in even detecting gold and other metals with his method. This is strictly against scientific consensus, since gold that is found in nature is non-radioactive.

We fully understand the rationale behind his methodology as well as the technical details. We will calibrate our scintillation counters adequately after we will have procured specific high-performance scintillators.

However, we have some doubts whether the method would work in all types of gold deposits. This has to be verified or falsified experimentally, which represents a key component of our R&D plan.

On the other hand, finding paleo channels that are not visible should be possible with our methodology that we apply for detecting water resources. Paleo channels are ancient river flows that have relocated since. They are known for good prospects of alluvial gold deposits in gold rich areas.