December 14th Luncheon

  • December 14, 2023
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Baxter's InterUrban Grill and online option


  • In-person attendance at Baxter's available for TGS members at GST member price.

Registration is closed

October 14th -  Baxter's Interurban Grill Event

11:30 Lunch

12:00 Presentation


Title:    Applying Airborne Robots to Resource Exploration and Environmental Assessment

Author:     Ron Bell, Drone Geoscience


The application of airborne robots – more commonly called “drones” - equipped with geophysical and/or other sensors to map geology is an increasingly common practice for those exploring for minerals, groundwater, and energy throughout the globe. The primary benefit is acquisition of high quality, spatially dense data volume at a low per data point cost. Additional benefits include increased safety to field personnel and reduced risk of property damage. In the not-too-distant future, executing multiple drone geoscience deployments over the same area to monitor temporal and geospatial variations will provide the knowledge with which to better manage a process.

In 2023, an estimated 85% of the total revenue generated by drone geophysics results from drone magnetic surveys executed in the service of geologic mapping for base and precious metal exploration. It should not be surprising, therefore, that several drone-enabled electromagnetic (EM) technologies are being applied to resource exploration with a few focused directly on environmental subsurface site characterization.

It is common knowledge that the US Congress allocated $4.7B towards resolving the orphan oil and gas well problem in the United States. Though the majority of the money will be spent on remediating the abandoned wells, a small portion will be allocated to precisely locating poorly documented wells with no surface expression using drone magnetometry. It is highly likely that some workers will use drones to acquire geoscience data with which to assess the methane emissions, soil contamination, and ground disturbance.

The inherent value of low altitude measurements and significantly increased spatial data point density for improved data quality becomes apparent when the results from a drone investigation are processed using data machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to extract actionable information.

During the last several years, the application of drone magnetic surveys to environmental problems has grown significantly. In 2023, purpose-built drone geophysical systems were introduced to the market. To some, the most exciting trend is more workers are combining different data type collected using a drone to better define and understand the geology. Whether the goal be discovering an extractable resource or resolving an environmental issue, airborne robots will contribute mightily to the task of modern geoscience mapping.


After more than 40 years spent acquiring, processing, visualizing, and interpreting borehole, ground, and airborne magnetic, gravity, shallow seismic, induced polarization, DC resistivity, and electromagnetic geophysical data, Ron turned his attention to applying unoccupied aerial systems (aka “drones”) to resource exploration and environmental geoscience mapping. From 2016 through 2022, he successfully located more that 50+ legacy oil and gas wells and pipelines from California to Colorado to the coast states of Texas and Louisiana. In addition, he has executed numerous drone magnetic surveys for resource exploration from the deserts of Arizona to the forests of the Upper Michigan to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. In 2020, he began using drones to acquire electromagnetic (EM) data for the detection of buried metallic objects as well as to map the variations in electrical conductivity of near surface soil and rock. He began his career applying electrical and electromagnetic geophysical methods to geothermal and mineral resource exploration soon after graduating with a BS in Applied Physics from Michigan Technological University. Ron is a FAA Part 107 certified remote pilot.

"Geophysical Society of Tulsa (GST)" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Oklahoma, P.O. Box 2784, Tulsa, OK 174101

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