Capturing 3D structural architecture of a mineral system through drill hole data

How can drill hole data better capture the geometry of an ore deposit?


Many mineral deposits are structurally controlled and incorporating structural information into 3D geology models is critical to constraining the geometry and volume of the deposit. For deposits beneath cover, the only source of detailed structural information is drill core.

Project goals:

  1. Investigate what types of structural information will help constrain 3D ore bodies models
  2. Develop novel methods for quantifying structures and structural style in core
  3. Integrate drill hole data which provide associated information on structural control (mineralogy and chemistry)

For goal 1, the student will determine what structures can be routinely extracted from drill core and how well they predict mineralisation (by comparison with assay data). Useful structures may be coincident with mineralisation or provide more distal indicators of mineralisation. A few case studies will be selected from different styles of mineralisation to determine what structural information is most useful to build 3D models and predict mineralisation.

For goal 2, the student will need to show an innovative approach to collecting structural style information, for example, measures of structural complexity. If the data can be quantified, then it can be more easily utilised in mathematical and machine learning algorithms and integrated with other numerical data.


In goal 3, the student will analyse how the integration of structural information adds value to more tradition geochemical and mineralogical data for predicting the geometry of 3D mineralised deposits. . Alteration information will be derived from fine scale mineralogical and/or chemical scanning of the core; for example, using HyLogger and Minalyze data.

The long-term aim of the project is to provide sound background information required for automating the extraction and analysis of structural data from drill core and drill core images.

As part of this PhD project the successful candidate will:

  • Collect drill core geological information (structural, mineralogical, lithological, alteration ect…) on targeted deposits.
  • Develop additional ‘structural proxies’ (structural complexity, rheological domaining).
  • Develop a data integration workflow allowing better structural understanding of the selected deposits.
  • Test their hypotheses by comparing their results against assay data and known ore body geometries.

Primary contact: Dr Nicolas Thébaud

My research focuses on geodynamic and tectonic processes, their petrological and geochemical impacts, and their controls on the formation of ore deposits. Down the line, my research aims at unravelling the understanding and detection of mineralised systems. In a resource constrained world and with growing cost and energy pressures, sustainable metal production relies on the maximization of near-mine resource development and productivity. In providing an understanding of the physical and chemical processes leading to the solubilization, transport and deposition of metals in natural ore systems my research is critical for future sustainable development of a mineral resource sector.

UWA key contributors and co-supervisor: Professor Mark Jessell (UWA)

Funding and Collaborations

Funding - Research funding MinEx - CRC

External Collaborators:

    • Dr June Hill (CSIRO)
    • Dr Helen McFarlane (CSIRO)



How to Apply

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • Suitable candidate must have a Bachelor of Geology or Geoscience with Honours, or an equivalent qualification, as recognised by UWA.
    • Interest in structural geology and ore deposit studies is preferable.
    • Some base level in math and coding experience /interest desirable
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.