Lithology Analysis Using Neutron-Gamma Logging | Gamma Ray | Statistics

The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.


Lithology analysis using Neutr on-Gamma Logging

Nir ou OKAMOTO (NEDO), Hir oshi KARSHIMA (Japan Coal Ener gy Center )


We tried to estimate lithology analysis using Neutron-Gamma Logging and geophysical logging data. If we use
only the Neutron-Gamma Logging derived parameters, an overall success rate of up to 78.2% is achieved.
Compared with the success rate of 83.5% from the conventional log parameters, this is a valuable achievement as
it uses only a single log data set. If we combine the conventional and Neutron-Gamma Logging data together, an
overall success rate of up to 93.1% for the four control holes is obtained. When this technique is applied to
independent holes, the success rates can reach 87.3%.
By using Newtron-Gamma Logging data showed that lithology analysis could be carried out more effectively.


The analysis of drill core gives all the information which can be extracted from a borehole. However, in many
cases the core cannot be fully recovered and geophysical logging is an alternative method to provide the required
information. The prime benefit of geophysical logging is that it allows detailed interpretation of non-cored holes,
permitting either substitution of diamond drilling or extension of drilling programs on the same budget based on
the fact that non cored holes are cheaper to drill. Geophysical logs can provide rock properties independent of core
recovery, offering scope for grade prediction and rock mass characterization as well as orebody delineation and
litho-stratigraphic interpretation.
Neutron-gamma logging technique is able to produce information on chemical composition, while sonic and
resistivity logging techniques can present information related to physical microstructure.
It can be envisaged that a combination of these different borehole logging techniques would provide information
related to rock characteristics and properties. Therefore, appropriate analysis of the information obtained by
combining different geophysical techniques would have the potential for improved in-situ determination of rock
characteristics and properties.
We performed examination about the lithological analysis using Neutron-Gamma Logging and geophysical
logging data.


The Methodology of Neutron-gamma Logging is concerning with a scattering and absorption of r-ray and
serialization and disappearance of neutrons. The neutron emitted by the the neutron source are etherealized by
elastic scattering with hydrogen nuclei present in and around the borehole fluid. They subsequently interact with
the nuclei from the rock matrix when they reach the thermal energy. In this way, the gamma ray is produced.
(Fig.1) About this gamma ray, the energy level is different with each element, and the intensity is proportional to
the content of the element.

Gamma ray
Emit t ing of a neutron→el ast i c scatt eri ng →Thermal neut ron
→Neut ron capt ure(n,γ) react i on →Produce of Gamma ray
Neut ron Neut ron
f rom sour ce f rom source
Ther mal
neut ron
Elastic scattering
Gamma ray
Emit t ing of a neutron→el ast i c scatt eri ng →Thermal neut ron
→Neut ron capt ure(n,γ) react i on →Produce of Gamma ray
Neut ron Neut ron
f rom sour ce f rom source
Neut ron Neut ron
f rom sour ce f rom source
Ther mal
neut ron
Elastic scattering
Fig.1 Schematic diagr am of the newtr on behavior
The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.2004
Therefore, it is possible by measuring a gamma ray to presume the kind and quantity of the element contained in a
formation. This technique is called prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA).
NEDO of Japan developed new exploration system for in-situ coal analysis in the Basic Survey for Coal
Resources Project. We put PGNAA logging technique in practical use in collaboration with CSIRO, and are
examining applicability to coal resources, rock engineering and environmental research on this project.


The data interpretation was carried out using the automatic interpretation program LogTrans (Fullagar P. K. et al.,
1999) developed jointly by CMTE and CSIRO. The program exploits the contrasts in petrophysical signatures
between different classes of rock and performs rapid analysis of multi-parameter logs. The rock types or
interpretational classes differ by lithology, stratigraphy, grade, mechanical properties, or combination of these.
The program falls in the first category mentioned above, using statistical methods for data interpretation.
LogTrans makes the assumption that the physical properties of a given rock type will be statistically invariant
over a usefully large volume.
In order to obtain the ‘petrophysical calibration’ for the automatic interpretation of geophysical logs, it is
necessary to petrophysically characterize each rock type. For this, it is essential to have reliable data in the control
holes based on geological logs and geophysical measurements. Also, a lot of care must be taken to reconcile the
geophysical logging depths with drilling depths before the rock types are petrophysically characterized. In this
analysis we have used the depths of coal seams as markers.

The LogTrans algorithm can be understood as an extension of the “domainal” interpretation of scatterplots from
two to multiple dimensions (e.g., Emilsson, 1993). Each rock type populates a certain domain in multi
dimensional space as shown schematically for a two dimensional case in Fig.2. For each rock class a centered can
be defined in the ‘parameter space’, representing the typical rock properties for that class. In LogTrans the
centered are the class medians or means derived from the control data set. The control data must be representative
of the lithologies intersected in the boreholes. It is advisable to have the control holes drilled in the same deposit
with the holes to be interpreted.

In reality, the domain boundaries, as shown in Fig.2, are not always sharply defined especially if the number of
data points is small for a given rock class. This may be due to a gradational rather than discrete geological changes
or natural scatter.


We applied this technique to real data, where NEDO of Japan conducted an exploration program. Four cored holes
(BG001, BG002, BG003 and BG004) were drilled and logged. Both conventional geophysical techniques such as
Fig.2 Hypothetical control data set, to illustrate the LogTrans algorithm (modified after
Emilsson, 1993). Points A, B, C define (density,gamma) data pairs recorded in non-
control holes.
The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.2004
sonic, neutron-neutron, gamma (total natural gamma) and density (backscattered gamma-gamma) and the
NEDO’s new PGNAA tool employing a
Cf neutron source were used to log the boreholes. The cores recovered
from the four holes were logged for lithology by geologists. We used an automated geophysical log interpretation
program LogTrans, to analyze both conventional and neutron-gamma (PGNAA) logging data for geotechnical
4.1 Log Data pr epar ation
The main purposes of these examinations are to evaluate the feasibility of using conventional geophysical logs
and PGNAA parameters for geotechnical characterization of the strata. Rock type recognition is a first step of
rock characterization and is a first order approximation for rock strength estimation as different rock types reflect
different rock strength in general. Therefore we focus on the rock type recognition in this analysis. The
lithological information is based on the geological interpretation of the cores from the four boreholes in the
interested area: BG001, BG002, BG003 and BG004. The key rock types are listed in Table 1. Only the rock
types with total length larger than 0.5 m are listed in the table and considered as statistically reliable for
consequent analysis. Please note that not all the classes such as IR, MIX and BC are present in every borehole.
Both geophysical logs and geological classes were carefully checked against each other and necessary corrections
such as sensor depth-offset, drill geometry, instrument drift and depth registration (Fullagar et al, 1999) were
applied appropriately before they were used for statistical analysis and strata interpretation.

Table 1. Rock type classification
Rock CLASS ID Descr iptions Populations
(Nr . of points)
SA Sandstone 3805
SI Siltstone 575
SS Interlaminated sandstone and siltstone 4098
CASISI Carbonaceous siltstone and siltstone 62
C Coal 839
BC Bad coal 60
IR Igneous rock 20
CASISA Carbonaceous siltstone and sandstone 39
TU Tuff 38
MIX Mixed coal, carbonaceous siltstone, coaly mudstone 81
CASI Carbonaceous siltstone 50

4.2 Par ameter signatur es of r ock classes
The geophysical logging data available for this analysis contained information on sonic, neutron-neutron
(porosity), total natural-gamma, density, and parameters from the PGNAA logs such as Fe, Si , Ca, density, H, B,
Al and ash. Statistics (medians and spreads) for these log parameters in each rock unit were computed by
LogTrans . During the computation of the statistics, a running median filter with a window length of 0.5 meters
has been applied to the log parameters to remove those erratic noises in the data. Fig.3,4 present the medians and
spreads for sonic and parameter Si of PGNAA logging. The reliability of the statistics is not uniform as indicated
by the population size (the last column) in Table 1.

There is considerable overlap of the spreads from one rock unit to another, for all parameters. Therefore, with the
exception of the coal seam itself, the individual rock units cannot be uniquely identified on the basis of a single
parameter but combination of multi-parameters can increase the chance of correct recognition of the rock classes
as we will demonstrate in the next section.

Medians and spread plots represent a fairly severe test of control data quality. Often problems with either wire line
data or geotechnical logging can be recognized and corrected. Establishing control statistics is commonly an
iterative process, sometimes involving introduction of new rock classes.

After we calculate the statistics (medians and spreads) for the log parameters for each rock class, the next step is
to apply these statistics to the geophysical logs to predict the rocks for the four available boreholes.
The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.2004

4.3 Results fr om four contr ol holes
We first apply the statistics such as control holes which are used for statistics computations. Fig.5 shows the
example of computation. The effectiveness of the interpretation is measured by an overall success rate in
percentage. The success rates with different parameters and their combination for all the four boreholes are listed
in Table 2. This list is incomplete and it only reflects the tests we have done.

Table 2. Over all success r ate for rock type prediction using differ ent geophysical par ameter s
Geophysical log parameters used in Interpretation (indicated by “X”)
Success Sonic Nat-γ Dens. NEUT n-γ n-γ n-γ n-γ n-γ n-γ n-γ n-γ
68.2 X
36.9 X
17.9 X
75.5 X
13.7 X
21.2 X
37.8 X
66.3 X
26.7 X
19.7 X
14.7 X
26.6 X
82.3 X X X X X X X X X X X X
65.0 X X X X X X X X
67.6 X X X X X X X
67.7 X X X X X X
70.6 X X X X X
72.6 X X X X
78.2 X X X X X
83.5 X X X X
84.5 X X X X X X X X X
85.0 X X X X X X X X
83.8 X X X X X X X
85.4 X X X X X X X
85.5 X X X X X X

It is clear that the individual log parameter has very limited success rate. Most effective parameters interpretation
in this area are sonic (68.2 %), neutron-neutron (75.5%) and neutron- density (66.3%). If we use all the
parameters listed in the table, we get a success rate of 82.3%. Evidently, with more parameters, its success rate is
increased significantly. However, it is not necessary that more log parameters will give a higher success rate.
Fig. 3 Medians and spreads of sonic log for the
strata classes in Table 1 from the four
control boreholes.
Fig.4 Medians and spreads of PGNAA
parameter silica for the strata classes in
Table 1 from the four control boreholes.
The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.2004
It is worth pointing out that a success rate of 72.6% can be achieved by using the PGNAA derived parameters Si,
Ca, density and ash and 78.2% if the natural gamma is added. A spectrometric natural gamma log (or total gamma
log) can be carried out with the same PGNAA tool by not attaching the neutron source. Compared with the
success rate of 83.5% from the conventional log parameters, this is a valuable achievement as it uses only a single
If we combine the conventional logs and the PGNAA derived parameters, we can achieve a success rate of
85.5% as shown at the last row. The example of the interpretation results for each control hole is presented in
Fig.5. The overall success rates for the four control boreholes are 77.2% (BG001), 82.9% (BG002), 91.3%
(BG003) and 91.9% (BG004) as tabulated in the second column in Table 3. Except for the control hole BG001,
all other boreholes have very good success rate. This may be caused by the “poor” classification in original rock
classes for the borehole BG001. These “incorrect” interpretations in one way reflect the different resolution
between the geophysical interpreted geology and the geologist logged geology. The same observation can be
made for other boreholes. Geophysical log interpretation can normally provide more details than geological logs.
4.4 Results fr om independent holes
Correct interpretation of control boreholes using geophysical logs is a necessary condition for implementation of
automated interpretation. A stronger endorsement of the practical viability of computer-aided interpretation is
achieved if cored holes, which do not belong to the control hole set, can be interpreted correctly. To illustrate the
application of LogTrans to a non-control hole, the statistics were re-calculated with just three of the original four
control holes, in a rotational fashion. This may reduce the reliability of our statistics in running GRSTAT due to
lack of sufficient data. But with limited available control holes, this is a viable option for testing purposes. All the
four holes were then processed using the reduced statistics. The success rates for each borehole are listed in Table
3. The second column represents the success rates of each borehole using the statistics from all the four control
holes; the third column presents the success rates by using the reduced statistics from holes: BG001, BG002 and
BG003; the forth column is the success rates using the statistics of BG001, BG002 and BG004; the fifth column
shows the success rates resulting from the reduced statistics of BG001, BG003 and BG004; and the last column
provides the success rates from the statistics of BG002, BG003 and BG004. When the borehole acts as an
independent hole, its success rate is presented in red in the table. The example of the interpretation results of these
boreholes for the above cases is presented in Fig.6.

Table 3. Overall per for mances of LogTr ans str ata predictions based on combination of differ ent contr ol
bor eholes.

Ctrl Holes

Prediction Hole





BG001 77.16 80.10 76.10 81.98 69.51
BG002 82.94 83.95 82.27 84.29 82.10
BG003 91.33 91.53 85.54 93.08 90.21
BG004 91.93 87.27 88.90 91.57 91.84


A geotechnical characterization study, based on geophysical wire line logs, has yielded encouraging results. The
petrophysical signatures of rock strata units were statistically characterized from the four cored boreholes. The
key geophysical log parameters used in this study were the conventional sonic, natural gamma and neutron-
neutron logs plus the PGNAA derived ash content, silica and density parameters. If we use only the PGNAA
derived parameters, an overall success rate of up to 78.2% is achieved. Compared with the success rate of 83.5%
from the conventional log parameters, this is a valuable achievement as it uses only a single log data set. If we
combine both the conventional and PGNAA data together, an overall success rate of up to 93.1% is obtained. This
indicates that the PGNAA logging data can significantly enhance the performance of geotechnical characterization
from geophysical logs. It is worth mentioning that the PGNAA tool can be employed for spectrometric natural
gamma logging. We expect an improvement in the rock characterization from geophysical log data by using the
The 3rd Southeast Asia Workshop on Rock Engineering in Vietnam 13-15.9.2004
spectrometric natural gamma logging instead of conventional total natural gamma logging that was used in this


The authors thank Dr. Borsaru M. and Zhou B. for useful discussion and suggestions.


Borsaru M., Rojc A. and Stehle R. : The application of the PGNAA technique to in-situ analysis of coal.
Exploration and Mining Report 848C.,2001.

Emilsson J. :Geophysical multi-parameter logging techniques applied to ore exploration in the Skellefte Field,
MSc Thesis, Tekniska Hogskolan I Lulea, Sweden.,1993.

Fullagar P. K., Zhou B. and Fallon G. N. :Automated interpretation of geophysical borehole loggs for orebody
delineation and grade estimation. Mineral Resources Engineering, 8, 269 – 284.,1999.

Fullagar, P., Zhou, B. and Biggs, M.: Automated geotechnical interpretation of geophysical logs: Presented at
KEGS/MGLS Symposium, Toronto, 21-23, August.,2002.
Fig.6 An interpretations for borehole BG003. The first
column is the geological core log,. The rest
columns are predictions of the rock classes based
on the statistics from control holes 1+2+3+4,
1+2+3, 1+2+4, 1+3+4 and 2+3+4.
Fig.5 An interpretation of control borehole BG003.
Shown in order from the left to the right:
geological core log, prediction of the rock classes
and log parameters used in the interpretation.

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