Walking on thin ice? Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to assess icy regions
SAYONA Mining - Moblan Project, Canada
As cooler weather approaches in polar or glacial regions, mining and exploration companies have a growing interest in ice thickness, as an understanding of this important property helps to ensure safety, plan infrastructure, conduct resource exploration, support environmental research, optimize operations, and make informed decisions for activities in icy regions.
In the case of SAYONA, it has certainly been advantageous to help with the planning of drilling operations through the ice to reach underlying resources. Comprehending ice thickness is essential as thicker ice can support heavier equipment and structures, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring the safety of personnel.
“The method stands out for its ability to assess ice thickness without perforating it extensively. A few holes validate GPR data accuracy, allowing a reliable extrapolation of the ice surface. Abitibi Geophysics has been crucial in providing the certainty needed to proceed confidently.” Carl Corriveau, P.Geo – VP Exploration SAYONA
Our solution – Non-destructive and rapid GPR method
Last spring, Abitibi Geophysics was commissioned to carry out a GPR survey on SAYONA’s Moblan property. They needed to know how thick the ice was and most importantly how fast it was reducing in thickness as they had core-drilling rigs positioned on the ice-covered lake. GPR is one of the best options for measuring ice thickness as it is non-invasive, especially when compared to traditional methods which require drilling to determine its thickness. This could lead to weakening of the ice and the creation of cracks.
Abitibi Geophysics executed weekly surveys using a 45 and 75 MHz system, with a line spacing of approximately 5 m. The knowledge gained from the process allowed SAYONA to safely extend its drilling program by an additional 2 weeks.