Integrating earthquake-based passive seismic methods in mineral exploration: Case study from the Gerolekas bauxite mining area, Greece

Katerina Polychronopoulou*, Michal Malinowski, Marta Cyz, Nikos Martakis, George Apostolopoulos, Deyan Draganov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

As the global need for aluminum constantly rises, bauxite is considered to be a critical mineral, and the mining industry is in search of new and effective exploration solutions. In this context, we design and implement a purely earthquake-based passive seismic survey at the Gerolekas bauxite mining site in Greece. It is a very difficult exploration setting, characterized by rough topography, limited accessibility, and a very complex geotectonic regime. We gather a passive seismic data set consisting of four months of continuous recordings (May to August 2018) from 129 stand-alone 3C seismological stations. We then analyze this data set and extract 848 microearthquakes that will serve as sources for the application of local earthquake tomography (LET) and transient-source seismic interferometry (TSI) by autocorrelation. We apply LET to estimate the 3D P- and S-wave velocity models of the subsurface below the study area and TSI by autocorrelation to retrieve the zero-offset virtual reflection responses below each of the recording stations. The velocity models provide a relatively coarse image of a previously completely unexplored part of the mining concession, whereas the higher-resolution virtual reflection imaging illuminates in detail the different interfaces. We also reprocess three lines of legacy active seismic data that were shot in 2003, using the LET P-wave velocity model for depth migration, and confirm the improvement of seismic imaging. Finally, we evaluate the obtained results using well data and jointly interpret them, extracting useful information on the expected target depths and indicating that earthquake-based passive seismic techniques can be an innovative and environmentally friendly option for mineral exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)WB35-WB56
Number of pages22
JournalGeophysics
Volume89
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • depth migration
  • earthquake
  • interferometry
  • passive seismic
  • tomography

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