Smart Exploration

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Smart Exploration

SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2020

Smart Exploration deserves the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award, not only for technical advances but also a focus on communicating to the public the role that applied geophysics plays in exploration and development of natural resources. The consortium, a partnership between, industry, academia and government, has produced numerous peer reviewed papers that technically advance the science, but through public education the partnership enhanced the role of applied geophysics as a critical tool for lower impact mineral exploration needed for emerging green technologies. Through the partnership numerous emerging professionals have achieved success and notoriety. A few young professionals have highlighted their experiences in their support letters, emphasizing on the importance of working in a large and diverse team with different technical and cultural backgrounds. The public outreach and cooperation with society in general highlights the value of geophysics used to locate and produce these alternatives in a manner that reduces impact overall. This consortium is critical for retaining the Social License to Operate and providing evidence and information of the critical role that geosciences and collaboration have in providing energy for humanity now and in the future.

Biography Citation for the Distinguished Achievement Award

by Musa Manzi

Smart Exploration is a European Union (EU)- funded project that addresses the many challenges associated with the exploration for mineral resources that are vital to the economy and technological advancement of the EU and, indeed, the world.

Smart Exploration was launched in 2017 and is coordinated by Alireza Malehmir of Uppsala University, Sweden. It involves 27 partners from nine European countries. Eleven partners are research institutions (Uppsala University, Geological Survey of Sweden, University of Helsinki, University of Turku, Aarhus University, Delft University of Technology, Polytechnic University of Turin, the Portuguese National Laboratory for Energy and Geology, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Institute of Geophysics-Polish Academy of Sciences, and National Technical University of Athens); nine are high-tech and/or small- and medium-sized enterprises (GeoVista, MIC Nordic, BitSim, Amkvo, SkyTEM, Seismic Mechatronics, the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, Geopartner, and Seismotech); and seven are stakeholders, mainly mining companies (Nordic Iron Ore, Yara International, Lundin Mining-Somincor, Proxis, Hellas Gold, Delphi Distomon) and one municipality (Ludvika Kommun).

Smart Exploration has been recognized internationally for its numerous accomplishments: (1) innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly tools and solutions for geophysical exploration, including five prototype instruments and six algorithms for 2D and 3D imaging and modeling; (2) initiatives to raise public awareness of science; (3) numerous publications in high-profile peer-reviewed journals, leading newspapers and trade magazines; (4) development of geophysical expertise in the EU and beyond through research collaborations; and (5) engagement of postgraduate students and young professionals in numerous research and professional development activities.

Smart Exploration has made major contributions towards the development of human-capacity. For example, the project trained more than 25 young professionals (e.g., MS, PhD, early-career researchers, and technology developers), who will help meet the urgent need for mineral exploration specialists in Europe. Numerous workshops and conferences were organized around the globe to encourage the exchange of knowledge between researchers and practitioners. In order to improve the awareness, acceptance, and trust of EU citizens with regard to mineral exploration and mining activities, Smart Exploration also provided testimony to numerous government and scientific panels and engaged in community activities at several geophysical test sites.

Although this award goes to everyone who has participated in Smart Exploration, certain individuals merit special recognition. These are the project’s principal investigator, Alireza Malehmir, and the members of the executive board — Peter Holmes (Uppsala University-Sweden), Per Gisselø (SkyTEM Surveys-Denmark), Valentina Laura Socco (Polytechnic University of Turin-Italy), Paul Marsden (Nordic Iron Ore-Sweden), João Carvalho (LNEG-Portugal), Asli Onar Verboon (EAGE-Netherlands), and Marcin Loska (Proxis-Poland). Alireza’s vision, intelligence, excellent judgment, and calm and inclusive leadership style have been pivotal in delivering outstanding results.

In summary, the Smart Exploration project has enriched exploration geophysics worldwide with a wide range of innovations from new instruments and survey design methodologies that allow us to acquire better data to new processing, visualization, and inversion methods that enable us to make better interpretations. The two key elements in Smart Exploration’s success are the strong collaboration between industry and the academy and the multidisciplinary approach that integrates mineral exploration objectives with concerns for safety, the environment, and society.

No team could be more deserving of the 2020 SEG Distinguished Achievement Award. Congratulations Smart Explorers.