Book:The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!/Labs by industry: Part 3/Geology and mining

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5. Labs by industry: Part 3

We continue to look at 20 broad industry categories and the laboratories associated with them. For each you'll find a brief description with common services and how the lab type affects the average person. As discussed previously, using our client type + function model we dig into examples found in the private, government, and academic sectors and then outline function through activities, sciences, test types, equipment, and unique attributes. Finally, we discuss the role of informatics in each industry lab type.

5.1 Geology and mining

Mining near the city of Tomsk in Russia.jpg

Geology and mining laboratories are responsible for analyzing rocks, minerals, and metals; monitoring and reporting on the status of mining operation effects on the environment; and teaching and promoting research of geological and mining science and engineering concepts. These labs are involved at most stages of geological and mining operations, from exploration and production to remediation. These labs are found in the private, government, and academic sectors and provide many different services, including (but not limited to)[1][2][3]:

  • chemical analysis
  • physical testing
  • earth magnetism measurement
  • petrological imaging
  • soil suitability and fertility
  • environmental analysis and remediation
  • drill core analysis
  • purity testing

But how do geology and mining laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis?

Tracking down how these labs intersect our lives is, comparatively, a bit more difficult than the industries we've looked at previously. From an environmental standpoint, when regulated, contamination testing is important to the ecosystems in and around a mining site. The oxidation of sulfide minerals and the corresponding acidification of the environment is well known in the mining community, requiring tested and standardized methods to limit the effects.[4] Secondarily, research coming out of geology and mining labs is helping to make current and future mining activities safer for humans and guiding the implementation of early-warning systems for earthquakes.[5] Without these laboratories in place, there's a higher likelihood humans and animals alike would face a higher risk of poisoning or death.

5.1.1 Client types

Private - These labs focus on providing third-party analysis and consultation services to industry and government, including explorations services, environmental chemistry, and purity testing.

Examples include:

Government - Many governments around the world have geology and mining departments, divisions, etc. responsible for contamination testing, water quality monitoring, and applied research. They also occasionally offer their services to outside parties and agencies.

Examples include:

Academic - Like other industries, academic labs in geology and mining programs contribute diverse research programs to society while teaching the next generation of geologists, engineers, and miners.

Examples include:

5.1.2 Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, QA/QC, research/design, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being analyzed, researched, and quality controlled? alloys, base and minor metals, minerals, precious metals, sediment, soil, water

What sciences are being applied in these labs? chemistry, environmental science, geology, geotechnical engineering, metallurgy, mineralogy, mining engineering, petrology, seismology

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Absorption, Age determination, Angle of repose, Atterberg limits, Bioaccumulation, Carbon-hydrogen ratio, Characterization, Compression, Compaction, Consolidation, Density, Durability, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Grain and particle size, Grindability, Hydraulic conductivity, Identification, Inclusion, Isotope analysis, Macroetch, Metallurgical analysis, Mobility, Moisture, Nuclear density, Organic carbon, Oxidation reduction potential, Passivation, Permeability, pH, Proficiency, Radioactivity, Radiochemical, Refractive index, Seismic, Shear, Stability, Stress corrosion cracking, Ultraviolet

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

autoclave, balance, calorimeter, chromatographic, compressive strength tester, furnace, jaw crusher, magnetic separator, microscope, mill (various), pH meter, photoelectric flame photometer, reflectance/gloss meter, roll crusher, sieve shaker, spectrophotometer, titrator, thermogravimetric analyzer, viscometer

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the clinical research industry?

While many geology laboratories are indoors, outdoor labs—i.e., field studies—are an important part of the industry. Those that are indoors tend to stand out: take for instance the approximately 20 luminescence geological dating laboratories in the U.S., responsible for dating geological substances.[6] Also note there is often industry crossover with the petrochemical industry, which depends on sound geological science for much of its operations.

5.1.3 Informatics in the geology and mining industry

The most obvious place where informatics intersects geology and mining operations can be seen in the geographic information system (GIS), a data management tool for capturing, storing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial or geographic data. While used in other industries such as power and utility, agriculture, and logistics, the GIS serves as a valuable tool for mineral exploration, production scheduling, and mine remediation. Informatics methods are being applied to mines in other ways as well, including using remote-operated drone data to map and characterize voids in underground mines.[7] Companies like Thermo Fisher offer laboratory information management systems (LIMS) to the industry, allowing their associated laboratories to more efficiently analyze mineral, water, and other samples in an automated or on-demand fashion.[8] And international conferences such as the International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss many aspects of the industry, including applications of informatics such as data modeling, remote sensing, database development, and geo-visualization of temporal data.[9]

5.1.4 LIMSwiki resources and further reading

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading


  1. "Testing Facilities Available at Mines & Geology Department Laboratory". Department of Mines & Geology. Government of Rajasthan. Retrieved 03 June 2017.  [dead link]
  2. "Minerals and Metals - Overview". AGAT Laboratories Ltd. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  3. "Labs and Equipment". Michigan Tech. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  4. "Can we mitigate environmental impacts from mining?". American Geosciences Institute. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  5. "Early Warning". Earthquake Hazards Program. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  6. "For Prospective Users: Other U.S. Laboratories for Luminescence Dating". Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center. U.S. Geological Survey. 26 March 2015. Archived from the original on 23 January 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  7. OVE011 (12 July 2016). "Mine Informatics". Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  8. "Mining and Metals LIMS". Thermo Fisher Scientific. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  9. "Informatics, Geoinformatics and Remote Sensing". 22nd International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2022. SGEM World Science. Retrieved 29 June 2022.