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Undiscovered Tertiary Coal Resources of Svalbard: An Assessment, Using Monte Carlo Simulation
Factors for resource estimates have varying levels of confidence and are of different nature. By expressing these factors as frequency distributions, the Monte Carlo simulation provides a computation of all factors and a probability curve of the resource estimate.
Paleocene coals at Svalbard are confined to the central sedimentary basin and a few outlying grabens. Coal is found in all outcrops. It is, however, questionable whether these areas formed one large basin at the time of peat accumulation. The earliest peat was strongly influenced by the Cretaceous peneplain, causing differential compaction and abrupt changes in chemical and physical characteristics. The four subsequent stages of peat formed on gradually smoother surfaces.
To accommodate these basic geological factors, it was necessary to separate the basin into paleogeographic units and also distinguish between early and later stages of peat accumulations. Different frequency distributions were applied to factors like depositional environment, syngenetic erosion and quality. Factors with common frequency distributions were postgenetic tectonics, Quaternary erosion and minimum mineable seam thickness.
The resources are classified as hypothetical and speculative resources, and each class has estimates of in-situ and recoverable coal. The median value for in-situ hypothetical resources is 3,300 million tons, of which 630 million tons are recoverable. The corresponding resource density is 0.16 million tons per square kilometre, in good agreement with the density factor of identified reserves. Over the next 30 years we may expect to identify less than 4 per cent of the recoverable resources unless exploration activity is escalated.
The marginal probability of having no recoverable speculative resource is 55 per cent.
Monte Carlo simulation is an effective tool in resource estimates. In particular, this may be the case for arctic deposits where several non-geologic factors have to be considered in conjunction with exploration results.
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