Sarah works in industry as a mining exploration geologist. She is based in Northern Ethiopia and spends her time looking for gold.
How would you describe your work in ten words?
“Fascinating to watch a project go from exploration to mining”
What does a day-in-the-life of a geophysicist look like?
Well, my job title is either exploration or project geo. As an explore geo, I use surface geochemistry (soils, trenching and stream sediment BLEG sampling which I helped to collect), surface maps and sub surface geophysics (Mag, IP and Gravity) to extrapolate where surface mineralisation is. From this data we plan the sub-surface drilling for gold exploration. Once drilling starts, days consist of checking the rig, core logging and sampling, as well as cross sectional and 3D modelling to analyse the results. I push projects forward from where all exploration work has been done, by modelling the gold and geology. We then give these models to the engineering team who do mine plans and scheduling, as well as the financial modelling. As a project geologist I am now following up on a lot of this data, such as the metallurgical test work and assisting with access road surveys and resource estimation on satellite projects.
How did you become interested in geophysics?
Mining generally focuses much more or hard rock geology, as opposed to more sedimentary basin work for oil. I always was more interested in this field which led me into ore-forming processes and then mining/exploration.
What is your most memorable experience in your career as a geophysicist?
Either the first gold resource estimation model that I ran on a satellite project to the main reserve (2015), or planning my own diamond drill program on a new area (4500m in 2014… unfortunately results were not economic!).
What do you think are the big challenges in geophysics in the next decade?
Keeping up with modelling software (which can almost be driven without a geo now) and skills which compensate falling commodity prices in short to mid term.
What advice would you give someone that would like a career in geophysics?
Not to forget about why you’re modelling data on the computer. Remember the big picture (i.e. that your aim is to mine or extract something etc.) and to not forget about the actual geology that’s there!
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