Aurora Scientific manufactures equipment to help measure and monitor microseismic events in underground mines. We also make products that use ground-penetrating radar to map stratographic clay layers. Aurora Scientific mine instruments are constructed to withstand the harsh environment of a mine and to utilize customized software to meet specific needs. Our instruments have been in use in potash mines for over 25 years.
Monitoring Underground Mine Activity and Mapping Stratigraphic Clay Layers
microseismic monitoring, microseismic source location, in-seam crack detection in potash, microseismic data logger geophone logger
500A – Microseismic Event Detection
In 1999 Dr. Prugger from Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) wanted a simple, low-cost and low noise solution for monitoring microseismic events within a potash mine.
He had done work on using microseismic event magnitude and source location data to predict the longterm health of large, soft rock underground mines. All of the commercially available microseismic data recording systems had been designed for mobile exploration of minerals, but not for long-term continuous monitoring within a mine. Other than high cost, another issue with these commercially available systems was that the signal quality was adversely affected by the presence of the high voltage, high current power wires that ran throughout the mine. For this work he required a robust, low-cost data logger that was immune to 60 Hz power line noise which could be situated at a convenient location within the mine and be connected to an array of geophone sensors.
Aurora Scientific’s R&D team had significant experience developing custom products from off-the-shelf computer data acquisition systems. In order to meet the low-cost specification we used a desktop PC with a plug-in data acquisition card mounted in a rugged industrial enclosure. To address the noise issue on the signals we developed a low-noise pre-amplifier with a balanced line driver that would be co-located with each geophone. In order to perform source location of microseismic events the data logger needed to be able to maintain timing accuracy to 10 microseconds. The use of a real-time Linux kernel as the operating system of the PC ensured this very high level of timing accuracy.
A 500A Microseismic Data Logger (MDL) was built and delivered to PCS along with custom computer programs developed by our subcontractor Kosteniuk Consulting. The new MDL provided PCS with microseismic event detection and recording. A second program provided by Kosteniuk Consulting was used to download the event data from the MDL and perform source location. The use of a pre-amplifier and line driver located with the geophone reduced the noise on the geophone signal by two orders of magnitude. This allowed simplified event detection to run in real time on the MDL and eliminated the manual digital filtering of signals that was required with the previous solution. The product proved to be so useful that PCS purchased systems for most of their mines and other potash producers in Saskatchewan also adopted the Aurora Scientific MDL as their microseismic monitoring system.
550A – Mapping Clay Layers in Potash Mines
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.
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.
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.