Learning 3D Geological Structure from Drill-Rig Sensors for Automated Mining
Sildomar Monteiro, Joop van de Ven, Fabio Ramos and Peter Hatherly
This paper addresses one of the key components of the mining process: the geological prediction of natural resources from spatially distributed measurements. We present a novel approach combining undirected graphical models with ensemble classifiers to provide 3D geological models from multiple sensors installed in an autonomous drill rig. Drill sensor measurements used for drilling automation, known as measurement-while-drilling (MWD) data, have the potential to provide an estimate of the geological properties of the rocks being drilled. The proposed method maps MWD parameters to rock types while considering spatial relationships, i.e., associating measurements obtained from neighboring regions. We use a conditional random field with local information provided by boosted decision trees to jointly reason about the rock categories of neighboring measurements. To validate the approach, MWD data was collected from a drill rig operating at an iron ore mine. Graphical models of the 3D structure present in real data sets possess a high number of nodes, edges and cycles, making them intractable for exact inference. We provide a comparison of three approximate inference methods to calculate the most probable distribution of class labels. The empirical results demonstrate the benefits of spatial modeling through graphical models to improve classification performance.