DNR Corescan Project

project banner image featuring sample core imaging

In 2019, the DNR partnered with Corescan, an Australian company, to study 16,000 feet of archived mineral cores at its Drill Core Library in Hibbing. The project employed a new method of mineralogical analysis called hyperspectral core imaging. DNR geologists selected project core from thirty-two (32) drill holes located within five (5) Focus Areas in northern and central Minnesota. These Focus Areas host distinct mineral deposit types and have high mineral potential.

A Corescan mobile laboratory arrived at the Drill Core Library in early January 2019. Over the following five weeks, more than 1,600 boxes of archived drill core were pulled from storage, prepped, scanned, and reshelved. This process generated roughly three terabytes of raw data that was processed and interpreted by Corescan geologists over the next several months. Corescan delivered their final mineral identifications and related work content to the DNR in October 2019. The News & data releases page provides access to the project data, and to additional content created by DNR geologists. Results from ongoing work, including follow-up research projects, will also be posted on the News page. Corescan and DNR collaborated on a video series that provides additional depth on the project, the tools, and the results.

Project goals

The DNR Corescan project's central objective was to assess whether and how use of hyperspectral core imaging can help fulfill DNR's mandate for land and mineral stewardship, including:

  • Management of Minnesota’s mineral estate and school trust lands
  • Identifying potential benefits relating to Minnesota's iron resources and taconite industry
  • Informing decision making regarding minerals diversification, exploration, and development
  • Improved utilization of mineral resources maintained within the DNR Drill Core Library
  • Answering important local and regional geological questions
Project benefits

The DNR Corescan Project will provide several important benefits to Minnesota:

  • Enhanced mineral knowledge will support DNR land management and revenue generation on state-managed school trust lands
  • Drill core images, mineral maps and analytical results will add significant value to Drill Core Library holdings available to the public
  • Support for innovative mineral research, as well as the research products themselves, may encourage new or expanded mineral exploration programs that stimulate economic development, particularly within northern and central Minnesota
  • Because hyperspectral core imaging is a non-destructive technique, core samples used in the project remain available for future inspection and analysis
Support for DNR land management

The DNR’s legislative and constitutional mandates include wisely managing public lands and mineral rights. DNR Corescan Project results will provide a better understanding of Minnesota’s bedrock geology and mineral deposits. Minnesota has many important mineral deposits that will be of particular importance as we move towards a green economy. Some of these deposits are on school trust lands, where the DNR has the responsibility of generating revenue.

For more information on DNR management of school trust lands and other public lands and mineral rights:
Your State-managed Public Lands
School Trust Lands
State Mineral Leases

What is hyperspectral core imaging?

Hyperspectral core imaging is a non-destructive method of assessing the mineral composition of samples using a combination of advanced sensors and software.

In technical terms, hyperspectral core imaging measures spectral responses across the Visible Near InfraRed (VNIR) and Shortwave InfraRed (SWIR) bands at sub-millimeter resolution. The rock core surface is illuminated using a high intensity broad band light source. The interaction of this light with the molecular structure of the rock material results in a pattern of absorptions and reflections that is measured across the wavelength range of the spectrometer. The absorption pattern creates a spectral signature that is unique to the targeted material. Corescan geologists are able to interpret the resulting spectra by comparing the data to a large, calibrated library of spectral signatures using specialized matching algorithms in order to identify minerals and mineral groups. Data collected across the entire exposed drill core surface can be used to generate a detailed mineralogical map and a ton of digital data (roughly 400Mb of data for every meter of scanned core). 

Who is Corescan?

Corescan is an Australian company specializing in geologic sample imaging and analysis.  The company developed a novel technology combining reflectance spectroscopy, visual imaging, and a suite of analysis tools designed to identify and log mineral content.  Corescan operates around the world with various mining and mineral exploration companies, core libraries, and research facilities.  More information about the Corescan technologies and operations can be found on their corporate website.

Contact the DNR Corescan project team for more information
Project Manager: Don Elsenheimer, Ph.D
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 651-259-5433

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