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Discovering what lies beneath the earth

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In April 2015 Wits announced that Shell SA had committed to investing R5 million over a five-year period to help create a Seismology Reflection Centre at the University. The Centre aims to develop innovative technologies to discover what lies beneath the earth, and at the same time to address the significant skills shortage in the geophysics and petroleum engineering fields, and other key sectors that drive development on the continent. Housed in the School of Geosciences, the facilities at the Centre will be used to provide world-class geophysical training to students across Africa in order to develop and advance the knowledge and skills demanded by the oil, gas and mineral industries.

The School of Geosciences is the leading applied geoscience training and research entity in Africa, and the only one in South Africa with the capacity to deliver geophysics training. The Director of the Centre for Reflection Seismology is Wits graduate Dr Musa Manzi (BSc 2008, BSc Hons 2009, PhD 2013). His PhD studies, in which he applied petroleum geophysics software to a Witwatersrand goldfield, have generated more than ten papers in international journals, and have earned him a premier international research award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Dr Manzi is currently supervising eight postgraduate students who are conducting research on the processing and interpretation of the 2D and 3D seismic data. This research is aimed at high-resolution mapping of some of the world’s deepest gold and platinum-bearing horizons from South African mines, which is significant for the country’s economy. The research also seeks to develop new techniques that would allow the detection of methane conduits (faults and dykes) in deep underground mines, which will mitigate risks and hazards associated with methane explosions. The Centre’s research will significantly contribute to the NRF/DST Centre of Excellence in Integrated Mineral and Energy Resource Analysis (CIMERA), co-hosted by Wits and the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

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