Exploration Geophysics Exploration Geophysics Society
Journal of the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Ground resistivity method and DCIP2D forward and inversion modelling to identify alteration at the Midwest uranium deposit, northern Saskatchewan, Canada

Samuel R. M. Long 1 3 Richard S. Smith 1 Robert B. Hearst 2
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

1 Department of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, P3E 2C6.

2 Areva Resources Canada Inc., PO Box 9204, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7K 3X5.

3 Corresponding author. Email: sam.long68@gmail.com

Exploration Geophysics 48(4) 383-393 https://doi.org/10.1071/EG15059
Submitted: 3 August 2015  Accepted: 22 April 2016   Published: 3 June 2016

Abstract

Resistivity methods are commonly used in mineral exploration to map lithology, structure, sulphides and alteration. In the Athabasca Basin, resistivity methods are used to detect alteration associated with uranium. At the Midwest deposit, there is an alteration zone in the Athabasca sandstones that is above a uraniferous conductive graphitic fault in the basement and below a conductive lake at surface. Previous geophysical work in this area has yielded resistivity sections that we feel are ambiguous in the area where the alteration is expected. Resolve® and TEMPEST sections yield an indistinct alteration zone, while two-dimensional (2D) inversions of the ground resistivity data show an equivocal smeared conductive feature in the expected location between the conductive graphite and the conductive lake. Forward modelling alone cannot identify features in the pseudosections that are clearly associated with alteration, as the section is dominated by the feature associated with the near-surface conductive lake; inverse modelling alone produces sections that are smeared and equivocal. We advocate an approach that uses a combination of forward and inverse modelling. We generate a forward model from a synthetic geoelectric section; this forward data is then inverse modelled and compared with the inverse model generated from the field data using the same inversion parameters. The synthetic geoelectric section is then adjusted until the synthetic inverse model closely matches the field inverse model. We found that this modelling process required a conductive alteration zone in the sandstone above the graphite, as removing the alteration zone from the sandstone created an inverse section very dissimilar to the inverse section derived from the field data. We therefore conclude that the resistivity method is able to identify conductive alteration at Midwest even though it is below a conductive lake and above a conductive graphitic fault. We also concluded that resistivity inversions suggest a conductive paleoweathering surface on the top of the basement rocks at the basin/basement unconformity.

Key words: 2D inversion, alteration, pole-pole, resistivity, Saskatchewan, sensitivity, uranium.


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