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“GEOPHYS with a GEEP*” Revolutionary Geophysical Data Collection System

A University of Leicester geologist is taking the lead in the development of a unique instrument that will help professionals such as geologists, archaeologists and engineers automatically collect data about underground structures.

Rather like a sophisticated sledge, the data collection system will move on runners, towed by a small tractor. This gives the advantages over other survey methods of:

- its own GPS navigation system so it automatically records its accurate position

-computerised data logging system to record many sensor instruments simultaneously

- greater stability and smoothness in motion than wheeled vehicles

-keeping the delicate instrumentation on board at a constant height above the ground over rough terrain.

- Surveying continuously for extended periods making surveys fast and efficient.

The Geophysical Exploration Equipment Platform (GEEP) system uses a combination of differential global positioning system (DGPS) and on-board compass to detect its own position, orientation and speed. A wide variety of different instrumentation can be added to adapt the system for different surveys aimed at environmental, archaeological, engineering, hydrological or mineral targets.

The system is very fast in use since no preparatory position marking is needed, with no tapes or pegs in the ground. Fields occupied by livestock can be surveyed with little disruption to either survey or livestock. There is little or no mark or damage on the ground as a result of the survey.

Data measurements from the instruments are recorded by computers on the GEEP system and telemetered to a local base station where an experienced geophysicist can monitor the data quality, carry out initial interpretation of the survey, and adjust the progress of the survey on the basis of the received data, allowing the survey to be adapted to the particular details of the survey site in real-time.

Because of the “open-system” architecture of the system, it can be used in a wide variety of applications such as:

- archaeology similar to “geophys” seen with the television archaeologists, ‘Time Team’

-environmental surveys of “brownfield” sites

- exploration for metals or industrial minerals

but in a much shorter timescale than conventional surveys.

The project, led by Dr Ian Hill, Senior Lecturer in Geophysics at Leicester, was funded by a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) and is now reaching its conclusion. The complete system is currently being tested at the University of Leicester.

Dr Hill and his research associate have been working with the company, Geomatrix Earth Science Ltd, who are marketing the system commercially. Geomatrix Earth Science Ltd is one of the largest rental sources for Environmental Geophysical Instrumentation in Europe.

Dr Hill commented: “We have been working with Geomatrix on various stages of this project for over 5 years and this is an exciting and rapidly developing area as we incorporate new developments in navigation, and computer technology. The system is now available commercially Europe-wide, and the first commercial system are being shipped during December.”

*GEEP trademark Geomatrix Earth Science Ltd. (pronounced ‘JEEP’)

Ather Mirza | University of Leicester
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