February 4, 2022

EMerald lays the geotechnical groundwork for massive railway project in Brazil

RUMO Logística, the largest railway company in South America, has engaged EMerald Geomodelling in their latest project. By applying our innovative method of bedrock and soil mapping, they’re able to begin the project quicker and with less risk.

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The last years, EMerald Geomodelling has been expanding to new markets, and Brazil – the biggest country in South America – has been a key focus area. It is therefore with great pride that we now can announce that we are working together with RUMO on a major railway project in the Mato Grosso region.

EMerald’s role in the project is to accurately reproduce the real geological conditions along the planned railway route, with the help of airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys, drilling data, machine learning and 3D modelling. It’s the first time this type of technology has been used on an infrastructure project in the region, so it is a marquee moment for both RUMO and EMerald Geomodelling.

What has been done so far

The planning for the project started in November 2021, a process that included data collection and implementation, updating of our machine learning algorithms, and analysis of the geological maps from the region. We conducted field visits to inspect points along the route that could potentially be challenging conducting airborne surveys or that could be challenging points for the construction. In addition to that, the field visits gave us the opportunity to better understand the geology of the area, which was valuable for the subsequent interpretation of data.

“Although EMerald and its founding team has worked in tropical climates before,  discussing geotechnical challenges with our clients out in the field has been invaluable for our understanding. We’ve used these insights to adapt our workflow and algorithms to better suit our client’s needs,” explains Craig Christensen, technical lead on the project.

After the field visits and analysis, with the knowledge of the local area in hand, airborne electromagnetic surveys were conducted in December.

From the field visit, where we looked at the physical characteristics of the sediments.

What challenges we met

During the electromagnetic surveys, a team of experts were present to validate the collected data as proper quality control of the data is crucial for the project’s success.

“When we’re surveying in the field, a team of experts goes through all the collected data on a daily basis making sure that the quality of data is according to our high standards. They monitor that the data is within specifications and is flown according to the predefined flight plan. This is then used to evaluate if any re-flights are necessary. This way we always get all the data that we need and in the quality that we request”, explains Anne Rasmussen, Director of Operations and project chief for EMerald Geomodelling.

“At the time the survey was conducted the rainy season had started, this is normally a time where it is not possible to do investigations with traditional methods. But because of the airborne solution and the effectiveness of the crew, we were able to conduct the survey despite the weather challenges”, Rasmussen adds.

The data collection process, that included team members from Brazil, US, Canada and Norway, was concluded before the end of the new year, and the data is now being analyzed by the EMerald team in Norway.

The geoscanning equipment used in the field.

What we are delivering

Once analysis is complete, RUMO will receive a comprehensive guidelines form EMerald to use as the basis for their next drilling campaign. This will enable them to focus their efforts using strategic drillings to confirm the points of interested identified by EMerald. Compared to a normal drilling campaign, this will require a much smaller number of boreholes, and therefore much less disruption to the local environment.

As the main delivery RUMO will get a 3D model of that covers the entire alignment. By combining the geotechnical data with the resistivity of the materials indicated by these surveys, the EMerald team with infer the depth and distribution of different geological materials. The client will also receive an indication of which areas have certain results and in which the results are less conclusive, and more data is required.

The application of this innovative technology is a first in Brazil but will not be the last. EMerald Geomodelling and RUMO are already looking at more ways to explore innovations in technology that can help in large infrastructure projects. Updates on this work will be released as soon as things are ready to share.

The distinct red sand is a result of the heavy exposure to rain over time.

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