Use of geostatistical Bayesian updating to integrate airborne radiometrics and soil geochemistry to improve mapping for mineral exploration

J. M. McKinley, C. V. Deutsch, C. Neufeld, M. Patton, M. Cooper, M.E. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Mineral exploration programmes around the world use data from remote sensing, geophysics, and direct sampling. On a regional scale, the combination of airborne geophysics and ground-based geochemical sampling can aid geological mapping and mineral exploration. Since airborne geophysical and traditional soil-sampling data are generated at different spatial resolutions, they are not immediately comparable due to their different sampling density. Several geostatistical techniques, including indicator cokriging and collocated cokriging, can be used to integrate different types of data into a geostatistical model. However, with increasing numbers of variables the inference of the crosscovariance model required for cokriging can be demanding in terms of effort and computational time. In this paper a Gaussian-based Bayesian updating approach is applied to integrate airborne radiometric data and ground-sampled geochemical soil data to maximize information generated from the soil survey, enabling more accurate geological interpretation for the exploration and development of natural resources. The Bayesian updating technique decomposes the collocated estimate into two models: prior and likelihood models. The prior model is built from primary information and the likelihood model is built from secondary information. The prior model is then updated with the likelihood model to build the final model. The approach allows multiple secondary variables to be simultaneously integrated into the mapping of the primary variable. The Bayesian updating approach is demonstrated using a case study from Northern Ireland. The geostatistical technique was used to improve the resolution of soil geochemistry, at a density of one sample per 2 km2, by integrating more closely measured airborne geophysical data from the GSNI Tellus Survey, measured over a footprint of 65 x 200 m. The directly measured geochemistry data were considered as primary data and the airborne radiometric data were used as secondary data. The approach produced more detailed updated maps and in particular enhanced information on the mapped distributions of zinc, copper, and lead. The enhanced delineation of an elongated northwest/southeast trending zone in the updated maps strengthened the potential for discovering stratabound base metal deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-586
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Airborne geophysics
  • Bayesian updating
  • Geochemistry
  • Geostatistics
  • Mineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of geostatistical Bayesian updating to integrate airborne radiometrics and soil geochemistry to improve mapping for mineral exploration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this