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550A: ClayMapper Ground Penetrating Radar Data Logger

The 550A ground penetrating radar data logger was designed to provide real-time monitoring of stratigraphic roof and floor clay layers in potash mines.

The GPR PC is located in the cab of a mining machine to provide the operator with a real-time display.  Two Noggin GPR units are located on the mining machine, one in contact with the roof and the other in contact with the floor.  A distance wheel is also required to provide a measurement of linear distance traveled.

The system consists of the GPR PC unit, an optional power supply/battery backup unit and cables to connect to two Noggin radar units and an encoder on a distance wheel (radar units and encoder/distance wheel not included in system).

ClayMapper software is included on the data logger and triggers the Noggin GPR unit based on the current distance determined from the distance wheel encoder.  Data is stored on the internal hard drive and automatically copied to a USB flash drive.  Digital filters are incorporated in ClayMapper to suppress noise associated with the surface interface.  Signals from the more distant reflective sources are boosted in order to improve the resolution of these weaker signals.

The data logger PC is powered by 12 volts which can be taken directly from the vehicle/miner or supplied by our optional 551A Power Supply/Battery Backup.  The 551A power supply can be configured for various input voltages including: 12, 24VDC or 120VAC.  The power supply includes a UPS battery backup system that will maintain power for up to 2 hours.

  • 550B: Power Supply with UPS for ClayMapper
  • real-time graphic display of stratigraphic roof clay mapping
  • capable of monitoring both roof and floor clay layers simultaneously
  • designed for easy mounting on a mining machine
  • simple touch-panel controls allow the operating to control the unit even with gloves on
  • rugged and reliable
  • uses standard PC and A/D hardware
  • data Logger is NEMA 3S rated (protected from dust and splashed water)
  • low cost
  • complete systems, including data logger, power supply, cables and ClayMapper software
  • UPS included that powers data logger for up to 2 hours

550A – Mapping Clay Layers in Potash Mines

CHALLENGE

In 2004 Dr. Prugger from Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) wanted a simple solution for monitoring the clay layers in the roof above an operating mining machine. He knew that early ground penetrating radar (GPR) test programs in potash suggested that GPR could produce images of the layers above the roof and potentially could be used to highlight propagating cracks and clay seams. Dr. Prugger and his team had identified a commercially available GPR that would produce images but the control system for the radar and the associated data logger and display did not meet his requirements. He approached Aurora Scientific for GPR data logger hardware and software that would fit within the cab of the mining machine and provide direct feedback to the operator of the condition of the seams in the roof above the mining machine.

SOLUTION

Aurora Scientific’s R&D team used our significant experience developing custom products from off-the-shelf computer data acquisition systems to come up with a robust, low-cost GPR data logger. We mounted a single board PC in a rugged industrial enclosure with a touch screen monitor for control and data presentation. Interface circuitry for measuring the movement of the mining machine and for connection to the GPR unit was also included. A custom software program, developed by our subcontractor Kosteniuk Consulting Ltd., monitored the machine location, triggered the GPR and collected, recorded and displayed the radar data. Sophisticated digital filters were developed to improve the resolution of the radar image. As with our MDL product we used a real-time Linux kernel as the operating system on the PC which ensured timing accuracy.

RESULTS

A 550A GPR ClayMapper was built and delivered to PCS along with the custom computer programs. The new ClayMapper was installed on a mining machine and tests were conducted to determine the accuracy and usefulness of the technique. PCS purchased several systems and installed them on several miners. Other potash producers in Saskatchewan also adopted the Aurora Scientific ClayMapper for their underground clay monitoring system.

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