KEGS Ottawa Seminars - Markus Svilans and Maxim Ralchenko


Markus Svilans (B.Sc.H., Carleton University, 2006) and Maxim Ralchenko (Ph.D. candidate) will be the two speakers at the KEGS Ottawa May Meeting

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
4:30 p.m.  

Gamble Hall
Geological Survey of Canada
615 Booth Street  



Speaker 1:

"Wireless through-the-earth communications -- an introduction"


Markus Svilans
Principal Systems Architect, Vital Alert



Scientists and engineers have long known that electromagnetic signals at very low frequencies penetrate for significant distances into the earth. Since the 1960s, numerous experiments have characterized EM propagation through rock and soil for the purposes of communication. Applications of through-the-earth (TTE) communication for underground mining, mine safety and mine rescue applications have obvious value. Thus numerous attempts have been made to commercialize TTE radio, but to date, the adoption rate remains very low. TTE radio has certain key challenges, primarily: low data rates (from very low carrier frequencies), vulnerability to interference from AC power systems (50/60 Hz harmonics), and limited range (due to rock conductivity), all of which can reduce the effectiveness of TTE. However by applying modern communications methods, computing and signal processing technology, the Vital Alert engineering team has been able to deal with these challenges in new ways to create a commercially viable and proven TTE radio communication system. This talk will introduce TTE radio communication, and provide a background on how it works, where it is useful, and why it is interesting. Finally, it will mention some of the technological innovations Vital Alert has come up with to overcome the challenges inherent in TTE communications.



Markus Svilans graduated from Carleton University in 2006 with a B.Sc. (Honours) in Computational Geophysics. Markus has worked in the airborne time domain electromagnetic (TDEM) survey industry for over 10 years, processing data, writing data processing software, and creating data acquisition systems. On graduating, Markus worked at Sander Geophysics in Ottawa where he gained experience with magnetics, gravity and radiometrics, and obtained his first Saudi Arabian visa. Later Markus joined Vale Exploration in Sudbury as a consulting geophysicist and programmer, where he continues to develop data processing and visualization code for surface and borehole TDEM probes. In 2009, Markus joined Vital Alert where he developed the initial proof-of-concept through-the-earth (TTE) radio system supporting text and voice. These days Markus is responsible for the embedded Linux software running on Vital Alert TTE hardware, and writes in-house data analysis tools. Markus also spends a lot of time in the field (particularly coal mines) testing and demonstrating TTE radio, and meeting with customers around the world, including North and South America and Asia. Markus lives in Sudbury, where he operates Aeonyx Exploration, a small company focused on new geophysics technology and instrumentation.



Speaker 2:

"Modelling through-the-Earth radio signals using finite differences"

Maxim Ralchenko
Ph.D. Candidate, Carleton University



A new software tool has been developed using the finite-difference time-domain method to model through-the-Earth (TTE) radio signal propagation. At TTE radio frequencies (400–9000 Hz), simulation of a domain on the scale of a mine (hundred of metres) at a resolution of approximately 1 metre becomes computationally challenging. To solve this bottleneck, graphics processing unit acceleration was implemented, which reduced execution time to minutes and hours, from days and weeks. Results are presented for three cases with known analytic solutions to validate the tool, and for two more case studies, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of tool for complex geologic environments.



Maxim Ralchenko completed his B.Sc.H. (Earth Sciences) at Carleton University in 2013. He started an M.Sc. in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Claire Samson, also at Carleton University, and was recently fast-tracked to a Ph.D. In collaboration with Vital Alert, his present research focuses on modelling and optimizing through-the-Earth radio communications, which has potential safety applications in mines and other underground infrastructure.