Gil, A., Malehmir, A., Ayarza, P., Buske, S., Carbonell, R., Orlowsky, D., Carriedo, J., & Hagerud, A. (2022). 3D reflection seismic imaging of the Zinkgruvan mineral-bearing structures in the south-eastern Bergslagen mineral district (Sweden). Geophysical Prospecting, n/a(n/a).


Mineral exploration is facing greater challenges nowadays because of the increasing demand for raw materials and the lesser chance of finding large deposits at shallow depths. To be efficient and address new exploration challenges, high-resolution and sensitive methods that are cost-effective and environmentally friendly are required. In this work, we present results of a sparse 3D seismic survey that was conducted in the Zinkgruvan mining area, in the Bergslagen mineral district of central Sweden. The survey covers an area of 10.5 km2 for deep targeting of massive sulphides in a polyphasic tectonic setting. A total of 1311 receivers and 950 shot points in a fixed 3D geometry setup was employed in for the survey. Nine 2D profiles and a smaller 3D mesh were used. Shots were generated at every 10 m, and receivers were placed at every 10–20 m, along the 2D profiles, and 40–80 m in the mesh area. An analysis of the seismic fold coverage at depth was used to determine the potential resolving power of this sparse 3D setup. The data processing had to account for cultural noise from the operating mine and strong source-generated surface-waves, which were attenuated during both, pre- and post-stack processing steps. The processing workflow employed a combination of 2D and 3D refraction static corrections, and post-stack FK-filters along inlines and crosslines. The resulting 3D seismic volume is correlated with downhole data (density and P-wave, acoustic impedance, reflection coefficient), synthetic seismograms, surface geology and 3D model of mineral-bearing horizons in order to suggest new exploration targets at depth. The overall geological architecture at Zinkgruvan is interpreted as two EW overturn folds, an antiform and a synform, affected by later NS-trending folding. Two strong sets of shallow reflections, associated with the Zn-Pb mineralization, are located at the hinge of an EW-trending antiform, while a strong set of reflections, associated to the main mineralization, is located at the overturned apex of the EW synform. The NS Knalla fault that crosses the study area terminates the continuation of the mineral-bearing deposits at depth towards the west, a conclusion solely based on the reflectivity character of the seismic volume. This study illustrates that sparse 3D data acquisition, while it has its own challenges, can be a suitable replacement for 2D profiles while line cutting, and environmental footprints can totally be avoided.

Original article

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