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Spotlight on: Structural Geology for Mining and Exploration

29 April 2024

Structural Geology for Mining and Exploration

Welcome to the next in our series interviewing people involved in some of the University’s flagship CPD courses. Join us as we examine how CPD, based on academic research and delivered by experts, can increase practical skills, abilities and knowledge. Our interviews showcase the breadth of professional development at the University, from short medical courses to studying for a data science postgraduate qualification.

In this interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Tom Blenkinsop, lead academic of Structural Geology for Mining and Exploration (SGEM), to discuss why this course first came about and the impact of training on participants and academics.

What was your main motivation behind developing this course?

Having worked in and around structural analysis for the last 30 years, I wanted to share my experience more widely, particularly around the systematic approach I’ve developed to deal with structures like lineations, folds, and shear zones. An online short course was a very convenient approach, and it also meant I could measure impact from my research.

What has surprised you about the success of this course?

We have been astonished by the demand, which has exceeded all expectations.

Since we ran the first course in March 2020, the CPD Unit has enrolled close to 450 people, from more than 20 different countries, as widespread as Africa and Australia.

Recently, we delivered a bespoke version for a leading global mining company that we had not worked with before. The company approached us after hearing about the course from a speaker at an international conference.

The live sessions have been a particular highlight, providing a personal touch to complement the e-learning materials.

It’s fascinating to hear about the experiences and problems of geologists from all over the world. Solving problems of where ore bodies are, and how they formed, will be critical to providing the minerals needed for net zero.

Tom, we’ve talked about the positive impact this course has had on its participants, such as teaching geologists with varying levels of experience how to implement a unified and systematic approach to structural analysis. Could you give us some insight into how the course has helped to support your academic work more widely?

The CPD Unit’s support has enabled me to explore the course’s potential, strengthen existing links with industry, and create new relationships. For example, based on my approach an international mining company has adapted their workflows, and I was able to evidence this in my successful 2021 REF submission, ‘Going for Gold’.

During lockdown, we made the course content available to undergraduate students to supplement their learning. We are now also sharing SGEM’s sister course (Introduction to Geographical Information Systems for Earth and Environmental Scientists) with students, further enhancing their learning experience at Cardiff University.

Finally, are there any new developments coming up?

Yes! In late 2023, with the support of the Learning and Teaching Academy, we upgraded the course by moving it over to the University’s updated virtual learning environment.

This will significantly enhance the learner experience, with new smart features and a more cohesive course journey. For example, delegates will now find it easier to track their progression through the course, and content will be presented in a more user-friendly way.

We have courses planned for 2024 and we’re planning an international campaign to reach new organisations interested in this topic.

More on this

Interested in structural geology and how it can be used for mining / exploration? Check out this video from Professor Tom Blenkinsop, describing the benefits of his CPD short course.

Structural Geology for Mining and Exploration

Contact us

If you would like further information about this course any of the CPD activities on offer at the University, please contact our friendly team at the CPD Unit:

Continuing Professional Development Unit

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