Geology and Mining Applications with PhotoModeler

There are a number of applications in mining, quarrying and geology for PhotoModeler and PhotoModeler Scanner. PhotoModeler Scanner provides a very cost effective and efficient method for modeling the earth surface, cliff and exposed rock faces, stockpiles, and tailing piles.

One can extract dense point grids (similar to a laser scanner). In addition surfaces, contour lines, and measurements can be done on the resulting point clouds. With input of external control data you can georeference the project and the outputs. Far more cost effective than using traditional surveying methods!

Measuring volumes of stock and waste piles is a good application as well. This Volume Tip video shows how it is done.


Mining and Reclamation Study

Trench Stereo Model example

Mike Dunn, author of Recent Developments in Close Range Photogrammetry (CRP) for Mining and Reclamation, writes, "The mining/reclamation community depends on accurate mapping for almost all activities. Traditional ground surveys are totally adequate for small, uncomplicated jobs but at some point, the size and/or complexity of a project makes it more economical to have a site “flown” (mapped using aerial photogrammetry). Because of cost, most projects are only “flown” at the start and less often when completed. Changes during the project may be surveyed but in many cases aren’t worth it –negative cost/benefit, too dangerous, or inaccessible. AML complaint investigators can face similar issues. For example, monitoring a nuisance landslip to decide whether it is a true emergency. Close Range Photogrammetry (CRP) offers much potential for measuring features that can’t or aren’t being measured otherwise."

Mike Dunn's slides from his presentation can be found here (6.3MB pdf).



Stockpile screen shotThis stockpile was photographed with a Canon EOS 1DS mark II and 50mm Leica lens from a Cesna 172 aeroplane at approx. 300 meters.

It was a test of making volume measurement and it succeeded very well. This screen shot shows the stockpile's contours (on top of both shaded and textured models), as well as the volume above the ground plane in the software's Measure window. It was oriented with manual marking and referencing and then DSM processing for the point cloud and mesh.

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Animation of shaded/contoured stockpile


This animation depicts the shaded TIN model of the stockpile along with the computed contours. All generated in PhotoModeler Scanner from two aerial photos.



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Open Pit Mine Drone

PM Screen Shot Showing 3D Open Pit MineThis 3D scan of an open pit mine in Galicia, Spain done with PhotoModeler Scanner, shows two colorized (by height) 3D views. The project was created by Ruben Pintor Fuentes, of Studo3D. The photographs were taken by a micro-drone similar to the one shown below.



Hydrology Stream Table

Shot of Stream Table ScanWhile not a mining or geology example per se, this scan of a stream table to simulate erosion is related (and we don't have a geomorphology, erosion, or hydrology section in the website yet!).

This shot shows two of the project photos on the left, and then a colorized 3d view (close up below) showing the dense point cloud. Color varies by depth. On the right is a surface model (of the bottom part of the stream bed side-lit to show the depth variations).

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Colorized Height View of stream bedThe project was completed by Tim Keenan and his supervisor, Dr. Ana Londono, of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University. The stream table was made by Little River Research & Design. The goal is to measure erosion in stream beds. While Tim started by using Coded Targets (you can see white strips in the photos), for this example and future projects he will use SmartMatch for the orientation process.

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Coal Pile Project

Close Up ContoursApprox. size of scene: 2000 feet (610m)
Number of photos: 189
# SmartMatch points: 89,000
# triangles in mesh: 5.4 million

This project was carried out by Geo-Rhea, a firm in Charleston, West Virginia that specializes in UAS / UAV remote sensing, mapping and measurement. The primary purpose is to determine the volume of coal piles without resorting to expensive, time-consuming and often less-accurate traditional methods. The area shown is Keystone, WV. The project was made possible by the 64 bit version of PhotoModeler Scanner.

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3D Shaded View of Keystone Area with Camera Positions
Coal Area Shaded with Stations

3D Shaded View Close Up
Coal Area 3D Shaded

Contours of Area
Contours of Coal Pile Area

Close-Up Contours
Close Up Contours

Animated RGB Point Cloud

A big thank you to Geo-Rhea for allowing us to show this great example of using PhotoModeler Scanner 64, SmartMatch and DSM

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Compost and Wood Chip Stockpile with MVS

This project of a large compost and wood chip operation was completed by a customer using 28 photos taken by a Canon IXUS 220HS carried by a UAS / UAV / drone.

While not a geology or rock-oriented project, this project was processed by PhotoModeler Scanner 2014's MVS feature - producing great detail with little user input or work. It is indicative of what is possible with MVS with drone photos. As well on the associated Stockpile MVS page you can see these PhotoModeler outputs: an Animation video, and an interactive SketchFab model.



Some Customers

  • U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Aerial Inspection, South Africa
  • Sojitz Minerva Coal, Australia
  • AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa
  • exp Services Inc., Canada
  • J&E Topoghraphical Surveying Services, South Africa
  • New Mexico Tech, Mineral Engineering Department
  • QuattroGamma Surveying c.c., South Africa
  • Trail Surveys (Pty) Ltd, South Africa

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