Use of Close-range Photogrammetry to Generate 3D Models of Drill Core
Most subsurface investigations in rock related to geological, geotechnical, and petrophysical projects involve the costly and time-consuming process of drilling and collecting rock core specimens. These specimens provide an excellent record of physical and chemical properties that can be used to assess lithology, geologic structure, geomechanical, and fracture characteristics, as well as provide the ability to measure petrophysical and geophysical properties. However, often observations are collected by a single individual on field logs with a specific focus related to the project at hand, often under duress due to time constraints related to the rate of drilling and/or poor weather conditions. Once fieldwork is completed, the core is placed into boxes, often having to be broken to fit and transported to either a permanent or temporary repository for storage. The process of transporting the core often damages it, particularly in the case of weak or friable rock. Upon completion of the project for which the core was collected, samples are often discarded, making future utilization of the core impossible. These realities limit the data acquired and sample accessibility. Thus, the present research aims to develop a methodology to acquire imagery of core in the field for the purpose of generating three-dimensional, spatially referenced photogrammetric models of drill core with the use of AgisoftTM, a readily available commercial software package. These models can be viewed, shared, and archived indefinitely, which will allow for more investigations to utilize data from the core during the project or even long after the completion of the project. Furthermore, the high-resolution spatially referenced 3D core models could be used as a “base map” for other data collected from the core or the core hole so that ancillary data could be tied directly to the core itself, allowing for a much more informative, accurate and detailed analysis.
Carson Reimers is a geological engineering MS graduate student at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he also received his BA. He is researching and developing methodologies to automate photogrammetric 3D drill-core models generation and orientation. In addition to his research, he is the vice president of the AEG student chapter and serves on his department's graduate committee as the MS student representative. In his spare time, he is either in the Black Hills or in the Big Horn mountains with his dog.
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