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Machine learning informs mineral exploration in WA

Machine learning

An advanced machine learning tool is part of a new system that Curtin University researchers are using to identify undiscovered mineral deposits in Western Australia. 

As part of a research project in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, geochemical data collected all over the state will be analysed to reveal patterns in big data that are not possible to see with standard methods. 

The researchers are using a machine learning technique called deep learning to help expand mineral exploration in Western Australia, Curtin University Oil and Gas Innovation Centre and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences lead researcher, Dr Vladimir Puzyrev said. 

“Deep learning methods are completely transforming the landscape of data analysis, because they achieve unprecedented performance levels across various tasks, significantly reducing the manual labour and subjectivity present in more conventional methods of exploration,” Puzyrev said. 

“The ultimate aim of this research project is to help identify new mineral deposits in Western Australia by analysing big geochemical data using deep learning methods.” 

Researchers are analysing the Geological Survey of Western Australia’s Mineral Exploration database, WAMEX, which captures WA’s exploration project activities over many years. 

Geological Survey of Western Australia project lead and senior geologist, Dr Paul Duuring, said the WAMEX database contains over 50 million samples. 

“There are time and cost challenges in the manual quality control of such large data, so this project is an important step towards adding value to existing digital geochemical datasets,” Duuring said. 

“An improved database opens new possibilities for Western Australia’s mineral exploration sector.” 

The project also offers additional potential applications, including identifying the most cost-effective and innovative geochemical data analysis method for the treatment of samples. 

“More generally, this research project also opens up potential new avenues for future research that will also benefit the state’s mineral exploration sector,” Dr Puzyrev said. 

For more information about Curtin’s Oil and Gas Innovation Centre, click here. 

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