Thesis in Chile

Published: 14 April 2016

Lisa de Vahl is doing her thesis in a gold and silver mine in Patagonia in southern Chile, about 1,500 km south of Santiago. The mine is located on the eastern side of the Andes and the nearest community is Chile Chico where she and most of mine lives. From Chile Chico, only a few kilometers from the Argentine border and the city of Los Antigous.

Lisa de Vahl has studied the two-year Master Programme in Civil Engineering, with specialization in mining and Geotechnical Engineering..

What do you do in Chile?

–  My work is to characterize the rock mass for the two mines, mainly regarding RQD (Rock Quality Designation). The goal is to find domains with similar rock mechanical properties such as fracture frequencies, their features and directions. This work includes analysis of data from drill cores and structural mapping of places. It is interesting to see the geology that is not what I am used to in Sweden. The biggest challenge for me is the language then there are few who speak English and I have not read Spanish before but despite this it is possible to get around with a little help of Google translate.

Patagonia, Chile. Creative Commons
Patagonia, Chile. Creative Commons

–  Nature in Patagonia is incredibly violent contrast between the sprawling plains, dramatic mountain peaks. I had the opportunity to make a trip and saw among other lame relative guanaco, the South American condor, ostriches, penguins and a black-and-white Commerson's dolphin.

How has your time at Luleå University of Technology been?

–  I've had two great years at Luleå University, master program Civil Engineering with specialization soil and rock building corresponds truly my expectations and the quality of education noticeable when you get out in the real world. Luleå University is prominent in rock and mining industry and works closely with the companies. My class was small and no one has had similar backgrounds study, which each have an asset in the group work and the like, as we have had different ways to take on tasks. Many courses are elective so that you can target in the direction you want. It has been great to have the training facility STYLE on campus with many passes all day and even all sections within the style in which it organized many trips. I went on a ski trip to Kirovsk in Russia and a hiking trip to Lofoten.

What are your plans for the future?

–  When the thesis is clear, I will go back to my job as an engineer in Björkdalgruvan, I have been working there since 2012 but with a break for studies at Luleå University. I want to continue to progress in rock mechanics and expect to get the use of my new experiences both from Luleå University and from my time in Chile.