University of Calgary

CREWES makes big waves

Submitted by darmstro on Fri, 2011-09-09 08:44.

Sept. 8, 2011

Some of the experiments done at the university 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 science faculty, 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 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.

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. On the recoding end, there are also cutting edge low frequency receivers.

“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, another sponsor of CREWES.

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. “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,” he says. “Previously, research that CREWES has done has proven influential in the industry worldwide. We’re hoping to do that again.”

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