Geological Mapping via Ocean Plate Stratigraphy Model for Exploration Cost Reductions


Infocomm - Geoinformatics & Location-based Services


A Russian University has developed a new technology in the domain of geological mapping of Pacific-type folded belts.

This technology allows improvement of the quality of geological mapping by applying the model of Ocean Plate Stratigraphy (OPS).

The technology is intended to help in reducing the costs associated with geological exploration of natural resources by excluding/reducing amount of surface and subsurface exploration in areas known not to contain certain mineral resources. 


The new method of mapping developed by the researchers is based on the use of the OPS model, which provides allocation of lithologically stable OPS associations formed in different settings.

The method involves outlining a Pacific-type folded belt, identifying separate domains of accretionary and supra-subduction complexes and their related zones promising or unpromising for different types of minerals.

Within the framework of this approach, two types of structures can be distinguished:

  • accretionary complexes (AС), and
  • supra-subduction complexes (SSC).

A huge variety of mineral deposits is associated with supra-subduction complexes: gold, silver, copper, polymetals, platinum, tin, etc.

Accretion complexes, in most cases, are not associated with deposits of economic importance (small occurrences of Fe-Mn concretions of the ocean floor and still unsufficiently studied manifestations of rare-element mineralization in ocean clays formed near oceanic rises). Neither supra-subduction nor accretionary complexes are shown on geological maps.

Traditionally, the rocks composing AС and SSC are shown together in the form of formations/suites, which are stratigraphic subdivisions distinguished by lithology and age of rocks, but without taking into account their origin.


Exploration of ore mineral deposits of ferrous, nonferrous (especially copper and nickel), rare earths and precious metals and polymetalic ores.

Improving quality of geological mapping, management of geological exploration, geological planning and design, allocation and distribution of licensed areas and its auction prices.

Market Trends & Opportunities

According to a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence, worldwide exploration expenses are estimated at $6.6 billion in 2020.

The proposed technology might interest clients due to ability to significantly lower E&P expenses. It is especially valuable now, when exploration budgets are dwindling due to economic downturn.

The technology makes it possible to exclude works related to traditional stratigraphy from the mapping, and accretion complexes from the scope of geological exploration, for example, for gold, copper, etc., and thus provide a more optimal use of exploration budget. 

The most important result of the proposed technology is the allocation of zones on the territory of the license area, which obviously do not contain certain types of minerals, which can reduce the length and cost of exploration.

It is applicable in prospecting for ore minerals, ferrous, nonferrous, precious metals, and polymetallic ores.


The most important difference between the proposed method of mapping and the traditional mapping by distinguishing formations based on stratigraphy and lithology only, is the use of the oceanic plate stratigraphy model which can result in significantly higher accuracy in the description of geological phenomena in areas of complex structure, such as Pacific-type folded belts.

The application of the method allows reducing the amount of such works as geochemical surveying and drilling, which are a very expensive part of geological exploration, by identifying zones that do not contain minerals. 

Compared to geochemical surveying and drilling, the works on geological mapping related to territory zoning are less expensive and can be carried out both remotely on the basis of analysis of available geological information, high-resolution satellite images and with the use of high-performance imagery by means of cameras installed on drones.

However, at the initial stages of practical development of the technology those approaches should be ensured to act as controls during field work in key areas. Due to the reduction of the volume of geological exploration work at unpromising sites, the budget may be reduced by 10-30% depending on the geological features of the territory.

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