The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre


Seismic Imaging and Modelling of Resources

Researchers from Curtin University are using the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s state-of-the-art technologies and expertise to develop improved methods of 3D imaging and identification for the resources sector. These methods will allow industry to identify and extract new mineral and hydrocarbon deposits that were previously impossible to access. Research in this area holds great potential economic benefits for Australia.

The Challenge

Australia’s current and future economic prosperity relies heavily on mineral and energy resources.

However, over the past decade, global expenditure for resources exploration in Australia has declined sharply. The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics forecast reports that committed and potential projects may only amount to $25 billion in 2018, down from $268 billion in 2012.

Part of the cause behind this slump is the exhaustion of cheaply and easily accessed deposits. Improved imaging and exploration techniques are needed to enhance the processes used to identify and target new mineral deposits and hydrocarbon reservoirs. 3D and 2D seismic modelling and imaging is one potentially promising solution being investigated by a team of researchers from Curtin University using resources and expertise supplied by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

The Solution

Seismic modelling produces enormous amounts of data. Both the processing and imaging of this data is extremely time consuming. These computationally intensive processes would not be possible in a practical timeframe using traditional computing resources and many of them simply could not be performed at all.

By using the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s considerable supercomputing resources and expertise, these processed can be performed much faster and more efficiently. The ability to use thousands of cores in parallel provides an exponential increase in speed.

Combining the Centre’s cutting-edge supercomputing and visualisation tools, researchers were able to develop complex seismic modelling algorithms and novel imaging approaches that would have otherwise been impossible.

The Outcome

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Streamlines highlighting structural attributes for both magnetoelluric derived conductivites and polar dip derived from a seismic reflectivity volume

These improved methods for resource identification and imaging can bring great economic benefits in terms of efficiency and production.

By being able to better detect and image mineral deposits and hydrocarbon reservoirs, previously inaccessible resources can now be utilised. The economic benefits of this for Australia can be measured in billions of dollars.

Using ‘Magnus’ and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s resources and expertise, these calculations can be performed in a practical timeframe.

“The ability to visualise these massive datasets enables a new era in Australia’s ability to benefit from its natural resources. These new processes would not have been possible without the use of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s world-class facilities,” says project leader Dr Andrew Squelch.

This research also breaks new ground in terms of the initiatives used to develop new imaging methods, new modelling algorithms and other computational geoscience techniques. These skills can be transferred to other projects on the Centre’s resources, exponentially increasing the social and economic benefits they provide.


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