Before advances in underground surveying using 3D scanning technology, inspecting and mapping subsurface facilities was time-consuming, costly, and hazardous. Surveying mines is notoriously tricky, but today’s LiDAR, photogrammetry, and georeferencing tools paired with state-of-the-art software are capable of producing a phenomenal array of maps and models designed to tackle almost any underground conundrum in near real-time. Watching a video of a 3D tunnel scan is mesmerizing.
This technology can do the seemingly impossible. Want six miles of mine tunnel surveyed and mapped in a week? Need to effectively monitor rock deformation over time? Have to assess rock overbreak or underbreak in a railroad tunnel under construction? Underground laser scanning is the best tool for the job, producing accurate, repeatable measurement data for an array of 2D and/or 3D digital maps and models, including:
- Topographical maps
- Georectified orthomosaic images
- Digital terrain maps
- Bare earth models
- Thermal imaging
- Digital twins
3D Underground Inspections Offer Increased Safety
One of the greatest benefits of 3D laser scanning is that it helps protect the health of your employees working underground. And since photogrammetry and LiDAR can be deployed remotely–even from above ground – underground surveyors can remain out of harm’s way. Underground inspections using laser scanning provide accurate structural health assessments of shafts, drifts, ramps, stopes, and other features as well as utility tunnels and other facilities.
While working underground poses a large number of dangers, such as explosions, toxic air, and equipment malfunction, being trapped by a cave-in is particularly horrific to contemplate. Blasting-induced seismic movement and rock deformation are just two of the threats to stability below ground. Therefore, the ability of 3D laser scanning to provide accurate monitoring and change detection represents a huge advance in mine safety.
Rock masses around an excavation can deform over time. Traditionally, an extensometer was used to monitor rock displacement, but the image it produced was one dimensional and covered only a small area. In addition, its placement in a tunnel could impede work. In comparison, georeferenced LiDAR and photogrammetry scans monitor millions of points in a locale and can produce 2D or 3D images, all without hampering work. Mapping and comparing point cloud data sets taken at different times allows you to get precise measurements of any rock movement. Such change detection can provide early warning of a structural failure.
Underground Surveying Boosts Profitability
In addition to boosting the safety of your employees, underground surveying can boost your company’s bottom line. A growing number of mining engineers are recognizing the capability of 3D underground surveying to not only save money but increase productivity. Fast and cost-effective, engineering grade laser scans can increase efficiency and serve multiple money-saving functions:
- A single underground mine laser scan collects a huge amount of georeferenced data that can be used to create maps and models that are accurate to +/- 6 mm. Submillimeter measurement is possible, if necessary. Such accurate tools fuel better decision making and planning.
- Laser scanning is non-intrusive and rarely requires any costly work stoppage.
- Georectified orthomosaic images help engineers visualize mine facilities.
- Accurate information can reduce unnecessary drilling, saving money.
- Volumetric tracking allows you to assess whether or not all targeted materials have been extracted from an area.
- Having everything in a point cloud streamlines communication. Information is readily accessible for every member of your team, and it allows everyone to work from the same set of maps and models.
Engineering Grade 3D Underground Scanning
Once you understand what laser scanning is capable of, it makes sense to employ the technology anywhere possible. Darling Geomatics has decades of experience in high tech geospatial engineering, providing underground scans for mining, energy, transportation. government, and industrial sectors. With a global reputation for excellence, Darling Geomatics can put underground scanning to work for you.
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