Airborne Geophysical Solutions for Geotechnical Challenges

Helicopter time-domain electromagnetics can be of substantial value to pre-engineering and construction projects. This White Paper presents several real world examples of how and where SkyTEM data was used to quickly and economically create or revise geological models and reduce risk on geotechnical engineering projects.

Download more papers on airborne geophysical surveying for geotechnical purposes here.

VMS and Ni-Cu case study Orion Minerals

This case study illustrates the use of an exploration method that leverages modern exploration techniques for deep-seated VMS
and Ni-Cu deposits in a 978 km2 survey area in the highly prospective Areachap Belt, South Africa.

The exploration method comprises the use of a high power helicopter TEM (“HTEM”) system, a large fixed loop TEM
(“FLTEM”) ground system and drilling that are employed in a staged process to keep down risks and costs and more
importantly to optimize the chances of discovering viable economic mineral resources.

Based on the HTEM survey 19 high priority VMS targets were detected for ground follow up with FLTEM. The FLTEM data
confirmed all of these targets, and 2D plate modelling refined the parameter for optimal drilling of the targets. The first result
of the drilling campaign led to the discovery of a significant Ni-Cu deposit.

The prospect of this case study is that the employed method may be useful for certain types of mineral exploration. Provided
that the electrical conductivity contrast between the mineralisation and the host rock is sufficient then the use of
HTEM and FLTEM is a viable choice. The staged exploration process ensures that potential resources are detected and that risks and costs at each step are kept down.

Download the case study that was presented at SAGA 2019 here.

SkyTEM312 HP Whitepaper


The SkyTEM312 HP helicopter TEM system is engineered specifically for deep resource exploration and was introduced in 2017. Since the launch, the system has been used routinely for mineral exploration with great success. In part, this success can be attributed to its capability of offering 32 ms off-time data facilitated by employing a 12.5 Hz base frequency. Recently, B-field measurements have been added as a feature to further improve target characterization.

Download the whitepaper here.

SkyTEM used by X-Terra Resources to identify multiple new and base metal targets

In early winter 2017 X-Terra Resources Inc. (TSXV: XTT) (FRANKFURT: XTR) (click here for the X-Terra Resources Website) contracted SkyTEM Canada to conduct an airborne survey over its Veronneau Property in Quebec. SkyTEM collected 1,225 line kilometres of electromagnetic and magnetic data at a 100 m flight line spacing utilizing the SkyTEM312 time-domain (TDEM) system.

Download the case study in PDF format here.

SkyTEM312 HP for deep exploration

Light-weight carbon fiber frameSkyTEM312 HP (High Power) is optimized to provide an exceptional depth of investigation effected by longer decay curves achieved using a 12.5 Hz repetition frequency and a new receiver coil suspension. In addition to this, the system offers data collection at markedly lower costs than ever before by leveraging breakthrough technology that has reduced the system weight substancially. The system is aerodynamically superior to any TEM system on the market, and is available in a FAST configuration.

Download the factsheet on SkyTEM312 HP here.

SkyTEM306 HP – For detailed near-surface exploration

Light-weight carbon fiber frameSkyTEM306 HP (High Power) is engineered to collect dual-moment high resolution near-surface concurrently with a greatly imrpoved depth of investigation. The system is aerodynamically superior to any TEM system on the market, and is available in a FAST configuration reducing acquisition costs by flying at speeds up to 150 km/h.

Download the factsheet about SkyTEM306 HP here.

Mineral Exploration Whitepaper

Smaller and Smarter – Efficient and Effective Exploration Economics

SkyTEM has engineered the next generation of airborne geophysical electromagnetic systems designed specifically to deliver cost-effective mineral exploration with a lighter and faster system, while still able to map at least as deep as any of the conventional HTEM systems.

The whitepaper provides case studies to illustrate the economic and technical benefits gained from fast acquisition and delivery of high quality data that can serve to reduce exploration costs while maximizing exploration objectives.

Click here to download the whitepaper.

Airborne surveys worldwide

Each blue dot represents a survey completed


Mapping groundwater with SkyTEM White Paper

Data from Horn River Basin survey showing a paleochannel at various depths

Data from Horn River Basin survey showing a paleochannel at various depths

The ability to reveal the availability and movement of groundwater can be a huge asset for countries and regions with the need to responsibly and sustainably manage their aquifers.

The SkyTEM method, specifically developed to map buried aquifers, is widely accepted globally as the principal technique for mapping water resources. SkyTEM is an innovative and technologically advanced airborne geophysical system capable of mapping the top 500 metres of the Earth in fine detail and in 3 dimensions. SkyTEM was conceived and engineered in Denmark, a country with a reputation for environmental care and R&D. SkyTEM helps geological organizations and government water agencies on seven continents unearth a wealth of information about their aquifers and aids in their understanding of how geology and mankind can affect, and be affected by, groundwater resources. The SkyTEM method has mapped water resources on a Galapagos Island, important agricultural areas in the USA, Australia, Africa and India, islands in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean and even Antarctica. Recognized for its ability to quickly and accurately map geology in fine detail, the SkyTEM method is also employed globally for mineral and oil & gas exploration as well as environmental and engineering investigations.

This white paper provides results from recent global water exploration projects – from finding new fresh water sources to identifying groundwater recharge areas, saline water encroachment and more.

Water is essential for life on earth. Two thirds of Earth’s surface is covered by water and oceans hold about 97% of all our water.  In the remaining 3% of fresh, or non-saline water, groundwater provides us with 30% of all our drinking water while 68% is trapped in a frozen state.  Less than 2% is available as surface water. This limited supply of available surface and groundwater is the main source of drinking water for the planet’s seven billion plus people. In recent decades as demand for water increases we witness falling water levels in almost all of the world’s wells, and many are beginning to run dry.

According to a recent NASA study one third of the Earth’s largest groundwater basins are being over-exploited.  Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers, in locations from India and China to the United States and France have removed water quicker than it can be replaced by rain and snow and their sustainability is at a critical point. (see Depletion of water resources is an immediate and growing concern and is creating overwhelming challenges for the next generations.

Click here to download the entire white paper: Mapping Groundwater with SkyTEM

Airborne HTEM geophysics for environmental studies and mine operations


There is growing awareness in the international mining community of the need to minimize environmental impacts associated with mine operations. Resource extraction requiring or affecting water is closely scrutinized by the public and regulated by governments. The application of airborne electromagnetic geophysics (AEM) to provide solutions for environmental and geotechnical engineering problems has increased in recent years and the mining community can benefit from these solutions. AEM techniques used by mining companies globally on a routine basis to explore for resources can also provide great value for mapping water and potential hazards in the area of mine operations.

The examples described in this paper focus on data collected by today’s advanced helicopter borne timedomain (HTEM) systems. For decades HTEM has been employed to map resources and system development was aimed at mapping increasingly deeper discrete conductors rather than mapping geology. Some of today’s HTEM systems such as SkyTEM have the capability to resolve subtle resistivity contrasts from the very near surface concurrently with depth of investigation in excess of 500 m. This with the ability to acquire data at speeds up to 150 kph makes HTEM an economic and efficient solution for a wide variety of applications.

This paper also identifies potential career options for earth science professionals who have focused solely on mining and mineral exploration and are now looking for new opportunities.

Click here to download entire paper.

SkyTEM Method for Finding Diamonds in Angola

Finding diamonds with SkyTEM

Conductivity-Depth Image (CDI) showing thick conductive crater in-fill

C.L. (Tiaan) Le Roux and W.H.B. (Billy) Steenkamp have written a paper about Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics’ project for Catoca in Angola using the SkyTEM’s airborne EM and magnetic surveys for finding diamonds.

Airborne geophysical techniques are widely accepted and routinely used in the search for diamondiferous kimberlite intrusions, particularly if large areas need to be explored or if the kimberlites are covered by more recent Tertiary or Kalahari sediments and do not penetrate to the present day surface.

Since its inception about 12 years ago Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics has flown many high-resolution airborne geophysical surveys in a number of African countries for various diamond exploration companies. Among these are a number of recent surveys flown for Sociedade Mineira de Catoca LDA (Catoca) in 2013 in Angola.

Angola is the world’s fourth-largest diamond producing country after Botswana, Russia and South Africa. Apart from the well-known Catoca diamond mine in the Lunda Sul province, which is one of the largest kimberlite pipes in the world, Catoca together with partners Endiama and Prescol,hold a number of large very prospective exploration licenses in Angola. In spite of being in ‘elephant country’ for kimberlites, it remains a challenge to cost-effectively and successfully explore for economically viable prospects. The correct application of both magnetic and electro-magnetic (EM) airborne geophysical surveys forms an integral part of Catoca’s exploration strategy for finding kimberlites that contain diamonds.

The most cost-effective technique for first-pass exploration of large areas, particularly where access on the ground is difficult, is still airborne magnetic surveying. The key is to use state-of-the-art geophysical instruments on a robust, low-noise airborne platform and acquire good quality data along adequately spaced flight lines at the lowest safe flying height. Follow-up with airborne EM helps to differentiate, delineate and confirm targets for direct drilling.

Airborne EM data is acquired using the proven world-leader high-resolution helicopter-borne
SkyTEM system from SkyTEM Surveys Aps., Denmark. This system is mounted on a large
non-metallic hexagonal frame which is slung 35m below a standard Eurocopter B3 helicopter.

Read the entire paper from Xcalibur here.