Reflection seismic investigation in the Skellefte ore district : A basis for 3D/4D geological modeling

Abstract: The Skellefte ore district in northern Sweden is a Palaeoproterozoic volcanic arc and one of the most important ones hosting volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits, producing mainly base metals and orogenic gold deposits. Due to high metal prices and increased difficulties in finding shallow deposits, the exploration for and exploitation of mineral resources is quickly being moved to greater depths. For this reason, a better understanding of the geological structures in 3D down to a few kilometers depth is required as a tool for ore targeting. As exploration and mining go deeper, it becomes more and more evident why a good understanding of geology in 3D at exploration depths, and even greater, is important to optimize both exploration and mining.Following a successful pilot 3D geological modeling project in the western part of the district, the Kristineberg mining area, a new project "VINNOVA 4D modeling of the Skellefte district" was launched in 2008, with the aim of improving the existing models, especially at shallow depth and extending the models to the central district. More than 100 km of reflection seismic (crooked) profiles were acquired, processed and interpreted in conjunction with geological observations and potential field data. Results were used to constrain the 3D geological model of the study area and provided new insights about the geology and mineral potential at depth.Results along the seismic profiles in the Kristineberg mining area proved the capability of the method for imaging reflections associated with mineralization zones in the area, and we could suggest that the Kristineberg mineralization and associated structures dip to the south down to at least a depth of about 2 km. In the central Skellefte area, we were able to correlate main reflections and diffractions with the major faults and shear zones. Cross-dip analysis, reflection modeling, pre-stack time migration, swath 3D processing and finite-difference seismic modeling allowed insights about the origin of some of the observed reflections and in defining the imaging challenges in the associated geological environments.