An online tool for evaluating regional mineral potential

The Mineral Prospectivity Modeller (MPM) Online Tool developed by the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) helps companies to evaluate the mineral potential in different parts of Finland.

Text: Timo Hämäläinen

– Mineral exploration companies can use the MPM Online Tool to identify where they should start looking for specific minerals, says Maarit Middleton, senior scientist at GTK. The MPM Online Tool is freely available online at http://gtkdata.gtk.fi/mpm/. It runs on the most common browsers. No additional software is needed to use the tool. According to Middleton, no freely available service of this type has ever been published anywhere else.

Fuzzy logic

The MPM Online Tool uses the geographic information system (GIS), geophysical, geochemical and bedrock data produced by GTK and derivatives of these spatial datasets. The modelling of the mineral potential is based on a 1: 200,000 bedrock map and raster layers based on it. The map is supplemented by glacial till geochemistry, magnetic, electromagnet and radiometric data. All datasets are available in GTK’s map services.

– The tool combines these different datasets into a mineral prospectivity map using fuzzy logic. All data sets are scaled from zero to one, from non-prospective to prospective. The mineral potential can be defined by combining these values using fuzzy logic operators. According to Middleton, users can get the most out of the tool if they first briefly study the basics of fuzzy logic. Information is available from the MPM Online Tool site. The “Tool help” offers detailed instructions on how to use the software.

– The efficient use of the tool requires a good understanding of the mineral system in question. For junior mining companies and their exploration managers and chief geologists, this should be no problem. When exploring nickel minerals, for example, the expert needs to understand what geological, geochemical and geophysical data are relevant, Middleton says.

Development continues

The MPM Online Tool is the product of a two-year development project. The MPM research project focused on Lapland which is one of the most active mineral exploration areas in Europe.

– The tool is ideal at the first stage of mineral exploration. It helps to pinpoint new interesting locations that companies can explore in greater detail, Middleton says.

Users can verify the prospectivity models by testing them with existing mineral deposits. Currently, this type of verification is possible if the mineralization type in question is an orogenic gold, a magmatic nickel-copper, a PGE containing metals of the platinum group or a mineralization of the IOCG type.

– At the moment, assesment of the model performance is only possible for these predefined mineral types. However, prospectivity models can be created for many other deposit types. We are hoping to receive feedback from users on what spatial dataset and mineralization types should be added to the MPM Online Tool. In this way, we can best maintain the tool and develop it to be even better and more comprehensive, says Middleton encouragingly. The total budget of the MPM project was EUR 508,000. Business Finland and the European Regional Development Fund funded 90 per cent of the budget, while internationally operating mineral exploration organisations covered the remaining 10 per cent. Nine researchers from GTK took part in the project.