University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 08, 2011 10:10 ET

University of Calgary: CREWES makes big waves

Researchers use earth-shaking vehicle and dynamite to get novel seismic data

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2011) - Some of the experiments done at the University of Calgary are very small and some are very, very large. One of the big ones is under way this week. It involves a specially designed 62,000 pound-force vehicle and numerous carefully placed dynamite charges. And it's expected to yield big results: data that researchers and industry will be able to use for many years.

The experiment is led by the Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology (CREWES) and is a major seismic shoot near Hussar, Alta., about 100 kilometres east of Calgary. CREWES, part of the Faculty of Science, is the oldest and largest research group on campus and is sponsored by over 26 Industry partners and NSERC and has been pushing the limits of seismic imaging research for more than 23 years. This time, it aims to push the boundary by gathering data at the lowest possible frequency.

"Very simply put, the lower the frequency, the more accurate the picture of the rock formation," says Dr. Gary Margrave, a professor of geophysics and the director of CREWES.

The Hussar experiment is a unique partnership with long-time sponsor Husky Energy and will focus on recording low-frequency data. Seismic surveying involves sending sound waves into rock formations to map the layers of rock, with the goal of finding hydrocarbons. Recent discoveries indicate that low frequencies are the key to more accurate seismic pictures.

"10Hz is the lowest frequency found in typical seismic data, we are hoping to get down to 2 Hz or lower," says Margrave. "The reason for this limit has to do with how we shake the ground, whether with dynamite or a giant vibroseis vehicle and also with how we record the results."

This experiment will be done a little differently than normal. One of CREWES' sponsors, INOVA, has brought to Alberta from Houston a newly designed and very large vibroseis vehicle, called a vibe, specially designed for generating very low frequencies. The vibrations from this vibe will be compared to those from dynamite charges of 2kg placed 15m below ground in drilled holes. On the recoding end, there are also cutting edge low frequency receivers. Both the sources and receivers will be placed at regular intervals along a 4.5 km line that cuts across country near Hussar. Husky has negotiated the land access and the line passes near several oil wells where detailed information about the subsurface is known.

Geokinetics, another sponsor of CREWES, is donating time and equipment to the experiment, as well as providing support for the operational and the quality, health, safety and environment aspects of the test.

"The use of low frequencies will improve the accuracy of interpretations made from seismic data which in turn will aid both exploration for new resources and more effective exploitation of existing resources. Geokinetics is keen to be at the forefront of this exciting new trend," says Mike Hall, the centre manager for Geokinetics in Calgary.

Margrave is looking for a big data set from the Hussar experiments, one that will be used by graduate students and be developed into technical papers. From the industry standpoint, Margrave is hoping to make waves. "If we can prove that we can acquire significantly lower frequency information without an excessive increase in costs, it could get picked up very well by industry. Previously, research that CREWES has done has proven influential in the industry worldwide. We're hoping to do that again."

For more information:

**If you are interested in speaking with Gary Margrave on Sept. 8 or 9, please contact Leanne Yohemas 402.220.5144 to arrange a time. He is in the field working on this project.

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