Geophysical Response in Lithium-Brine Monitoring, New Exploration Paradigms and Sustainable Green Lithium

20 May 2024
7:00 AM (CDT)

The energy transition drives the energy sector to renewable energy and electrification, being the critical minerals key players in the industrial development map. They comprise rare earth elements and 35 other elements including lithium that holds the ~65% of its world reserves in the so-called lithium triangle located in Argentina-Bolivia-Chile.

The low electrical resistivities, variations in salt concentrations, weak acoustic impedances contrasts, and dynamics of the hydrogeological system, makes brine monitoring a complex geophysical exploratory problem. On the other hand, the exploration and quantification of in situ resources of lithium have been approached from the viewpoint of mining, assuming stationary resources located in the shallow portion of the subsurface whereas the sustainability of water management and brines production mechanisms are currently questioned.

Since 2018, it has been carrying out various feasibility studies, field tests, and analyses of previous acquisitions and has also performed several acquisitions in many salt flats, concluding that full tensor magnetotellurics (full tensor MT), gravity, and ERT are currently the best combination to reach the exploration objectives, which are: (1) the characterization of the salt flat in depth; basement delineation; (2) the definition of the main structures; and (3) the main faults and detection of semifresh water aquifers on the edge of the salt flat that contribute to its recharge and that are key to the water balance of the endorheic basin (i.e., closed basin), which has the resource in solution. For this purpose, the evaluation of several prospecting methods in different salt flats was executed, concluding that full tensor magnetotellurics, electrical resistivity tomography and gravity comprises a toolkit that fit the objectives set.

The webinar will discuss the weakness and strengthens of different geophysical methods in brines monitoring; new exploration paradigms; future directions of geophysics; and it will provide an introduction to green lithium.

Speaker Bio

Ana Curcio

Ana Curcio simultaneously earned her degrees in Physics from the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences; Engineering and MS in Geodetic-Geophysical Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering and a PhD, summa cum laude, at Buenos Aires University. Also, she is Oil and Gas production specialist (ITBA).

Ana Curcio is an SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) Director-at-Large. She served in several roles in the SEG like Chair of the SEG Latin America Regional Advisory Committee; served twice as SEG District 6 Representative; twice as SEG Council representative; and was Global Co-Chair of the 2019 SEG annual meeting. She is a member of the board of directors of the Argentinean Association of Petroleum Geologists and Geophysicists. In addition, Ana is an IAGA division IV committee member.

Argentinian, with +15 years of experience in the energy sector, Ana specialized in geophysical exploration applied to complex exploratory problems in hydrocarbons and lithium industries, covering the entire scope of the technology spectrum. She reached the leadership level and is proficient in supervising a field crew operationally and technically as well as in data processing, interpretation, and multiphysics integration. Currently, Ana is a geophysical advisor at Proingeo SA and leads the strategic minerals division of Buenos Aires University, Faculty of Engineering. Ana is a professor of geophysics courses in several lithium specializations and diplomates (UNLP-UNJU; UNSA; UBA).

Her main area of interest is multiphysics integration, in particular, the applications for brine prospecting; conventional/unconventional reservoir monitoring; and elastic and electrical anisotropy.

Ana is motivated to work with cultural and ethnic diversity: apart from Spanish and English, she speaks Portuguese and Chinese.