Value from Above - Airborne Geophysical Surveys for Minerals and Hydrocarbons

The Demand for Airborne Geophysical Surveys
Airborne SurveyGreater global demand for minerals and hyrdocarbons is leading to an increased demand for geophysical surveying. Airborne geophysical surveying, in particular magnetics, electromagnetics, and radiometrics, have become the leading techniques to initiate the mineral exploration process and gravity and magnetics are used in hydrocarbon applications.
Airborne survey data can be processed into a wide variety of detailed geophysical map products which are used to identify and model geophysical anomalies. Geophysical anomalies are then interpreted by an experienced geophysicist who will make recommendations based on the data as to where further in-depth exploration such as drilling or seismic surveys are justified.
Typical Airborne Geophysical surveys methods are:
  • Magnetics ( Single Senor, Horizontal gradiometer and vertical gradiometer)
  • Electromagnetics
  • Radiometrics
  • VLF-EM
  • Gravity           
These methods each require different equipment and applied technologies in order to produce accurate and repeatable results. Airborne surveys are key as they allow for the most economical and efficient mapping of large areas. Single engine aircraft can economically fly small to large mineral surveys over land, while twin engine aircraft have proven to be an invaluable in determining oil and gas deposits offshore, or in over-land surveys with long ferry legs to the closest airport. Helicopters are used to achieve very low survey altitude or in mountainous terrains requiring high gradient climb ability.
Airborne Geophysical Survey Technology
There are a wide variety of different geophysical technologies that can be performed by airborne means. These technologies are all proven, repeatable acquisition methods for acquiring data from an airborne geophysical survey platform.
Terraquest Ltd. typically collects magnetic, radiometric and / or EM-Power EM or Matrix VLF-EM survey data on any given flight, however other technologies such as gravity and  seep finder are available. Each technology requires unique specialized instruments as well different survey characteristics to acquire precision data. Survey factors which vary for each technology include;
  • the type of terrain in the grid,
  • aircraft altitude,
  • aircraft speed,
  • the distance between grid lines,
  • solar diurnal activity is also a factor which must be considered and monitored throughout each flight.
Airborne survey aircraft are generally restricted by the weight of the instruments that can be carried safely onboard the aircraft. Further, the equipment must be complimentary to each other in that they must share similar acquisition parameters as listed above.
The Industries that Drive Airborne Geophysical Surveying
Due to the increased activity in the mining industry and a significant increase in the amount of funding made available for the mineral exploration industry, the airborne geophysical surveying industry is also growing steadily.
Geophysical surveying is also frequently used by Junior exploration companies who are performing mineral evaluations of property sized exploration projects with the intention of selling their property to major mining corporations.
With many prominent industries finding important uses for geophysical surveying, it stands to reason that this industry will continue to grow and prosper at a steady pace.
Oil companies are constantly on the lookout for the next big deposit of hydrocarbons and fossil fuels to capitalize on skyrocketing consumer demand. Oil companies are amongst the richest companies in the world and provide substantial funding to the geophysical surveying industry.
Specialists in Airborne Geophysical Surveys
Terraquest was established in 1984 and since then, our dedicated team has flown over 1,500 airborne geophysical surveys using both fixed wing and helicopter platforms.  Our professional crews provide significant experience having carried out airborne magnetic surveys, airborne gravity surveys, airborne radiometric surveys, and airborne electromagnetic surveys on five continents.
Our quality data sets have been utilized in the exploration for base and precious metals, kimberlite, hydrocarbons, uranium, rare earth minerals and water.  The company has performed exemplary surveys for both small and large exploration groups as well as many government agencies.  References can be provided upon request. Visit




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