In May 2010 a time domain airborne electromagnetic (TD-AEM) survey was carried out for the Council for Geoscience over two selected areas in the traditional West Rand and Free State gold mining areas of South Africa. The goal of the TD-AEM survey was to acquire a 3D electric conductivity model of the survey areas reflecting the geological layering and potential pathways for rising acid mine waters or leaking contaminant fluids from tailings and slime dams. The TD-AEM Genesis system which was a fairly recent development mounted on a single engine Cessna Grand Caravan 208 was provided by Fugro Airborne Services (FAS). The survey was flown at 200 m flight line spacing, with flight lines oriented N-S and tie lines oriented W-E at 2000 m spacing. The EM transmitter and stinger mounted Caesium vapour magnetometer were flown at about 90 m terrain clearance. The EM receiver bird was closer to surface (45 m) and dragged by the aircraft. The transmitter-receiver (Tx-Rx) configuration is non-symmetric. Base frequency of the transmitter (Tx) was 75 Hz, peak moment 60300 Am2 and peak current 450 A. In high conductivity areas the depth of investigation of the Genesis system has been limited to little more than 100 m, only in low conductivity environment a maximum depth of investigation of about 300 m was achieved. Despite these constraints, the 3D conductivity voxels display the geological layering, highlight tectonic features (folding, faults) and identify individual conductive spots which are possibly associated with leaking tailings. As a whole, the usefulness of fast and cost-effective AEM surveying when tackling the issues of acid mine waters and contaminant seepage has successfully been proven. However, the use of a helicopter-borne AEM system may be preferred with regard to spatial power of resolution and system geometry.


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