Unique drone maps Sweden's geology

Published: 2 October 2018

Environmental monitoring, detecting fractures in open-pit mines, and gathering crucial information about how ore deposits form. Luleå University of Technology's new custom-made drone is equipped with camera and magnetometer and can be used for a wide range of purposes.

See how the unique drone maps Sweden's geology

– Our new drone is used for both research and education. The drone helps us mapping Swedish bedrock to understand how rocks and ore deposits have formed, says Joel Andersson, PhD student in Ore Geology at Luleå University of Technology.

The drone, funded by the Boliden Foundation and the LKAB Research and Education Foundation, is called Hugin (Highly Useful GeoInformation) and is equipped with a magnetometer, a scientific instrument that measures the magnetization of magnetic materials.

In just half an hour of flying, Hugin can cover a surface corresponding to 75 football fields.

– During the flight we photograph the ground surface with overlapping images, so-called stereo photography, which allows us to build a high-resolution terrain model. In the terrain model, we can measure properties, make volume calculations and see structural orientations in the bedrock – things that are crucial for understanding tectonic processes, explains Joel Andersson.

 Fault scarps near Kiruna

The drone can be used for a wide range of research purposes. With the help of Hugin, researchers can, as an example, gather more information about the Pärvie fault, a nearly 160 kilometre long linear series of fault scarps near Kiruna and Kebnekaise. The Pärvie fault formed at the time of the last deglaciation.

– It is believed that the earthquakes along the Pärvie fault were of high magnitude. Researchers at Luleå University of Technology want to find out if there were two billion years old structures in the bedrock that were reactivated or if the structures along the Pärvie fault were newly formed. We hope that the drone can help us to find useful information about that, says Tobias Bauer, researcher in Ore Geology at Luleå University of Technology.

Students and researchers can process data collected by the drone in Luleå University of Technology's new VR lab.

– We want our students to learn modern technology and to interpret and process new types of data. Drone technology is on the rise and Luleå University of Technology wants to be in the forefront when using it in research and education, says Tobias Bauer, adding that the new drone Hugin is met with great interest from researchers at other universities and from the industry.

– For a mining company with open-pit mines, the drone can be used to map the open-pit wall and to detect fractures that might be dangerous to the production.

Tobias Bauer

Tobias Bauer, Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 492150
Organization: Ore Geology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Joel Andersson

Joel Andersson, PhD Student position, PhD Student

Phone: +46 (0)920 493549
Organization: Ore Geology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering

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