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Marine Geophysics

Marine Seismic Surveying vs. Land Seismic Surveying


 The use of multiple receivers and common-depth-point techniques on land and at
sea are similar.
 The physical processes by which seismic energy is generated on land and at sea are
different.
 Energy sources and receivers used on land and at sea are different.
 Position location is used for marine exploration.
 Production rate at sea is higher than that on land (typically, 750 to 1000 mi/month
at sea compared with 50 to 100 mi/month on land).
 Per-mile cost of marine data acquisition is about 10 to 20 percent of that on land.

Generation of Seismic Energy under Water


 The function of any underwater seismic energy source is to introduce a sudden
pressure impulse into the water.
 Formation and Properties of the Gas Bubble in Water Shooting:
 A delay effect of the shock wave is an oscillatory flow of water in the area
around the exploration, which gives rise to subsequent pressure pulses designed
as bubble oscillation.
 Relation between Oscillation Period of Gas Bubble and Energy of Source:
 The period of the bubble oscillation is of great practical importance because
each oscillation generates a new seismic impulse.
 The seismic signal associated with the initial pressure injection is thus repeated
at intervals equivalent to this period.
 Such multiple repetitions in the down-traveling source signal cause
reverberation effects in the reflection signals that often obscure desired
information.
 The bubble-oscillation period is proportional to the potential energy (120 ms for
1 libra (pound) and 700 ms for 50 libra).
 The bubble-oscillation period is proportional to the maximum radius of the
bubble.

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 The bubble-oscillation period is inversely proportional to the depth of the
bubble center.

Marine Energy Sources


A) Explosives:
1) Dynamite:
 The most efficient input of energy is at an antinode, which occurs at depths
equal to any odd number of quarter wavelengths. One-quarter of a
wavelength for a typical seismic reflection signal in water is 20 to 40 ft.

B) Controlled Explosives:
1) Flexotir:
 A small pellet of dynamite (about 2 ounces = 56.7 gm) embedded in a plastic
cartridge. The charge is detonated at the center of a multiply perforated
(about 130 perforations) cast-iron spherical shell (about 2 ft in diameter)
which is towed behind the ship at a depth of about 40 ft.
 The mesh made by the perforations in the spherical enclosure has the effect
of breaking up the bubble.

2) Maxipulse:
 The charge (about 1⁄2 libra = 226.8 gm) is packed in a can, which is injected
into the water at a depth of about 20 to 40 ft by a delivery device trailed from
the ship.
 The detonation takes place about 1 s after the injection, the delay making it
possible for the can to explode far enough from the injector to avoid
damaging injector.
 The bubble has a period of a bout 100 ms recorded by a detecting
hydrophone on the injector device for final processing.

C) Non-explosives:
1) Air Gun:
 It is the most widely used non-explosive source.

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 Its air capacities range from 1 to 2000 in3 or more and operates at a pressure
of about 2000 lb/in2 (or more now in use).
 The bubble oscillation problem must be considered in shooting and in
processing centers.
 In the field, an array of guns having different capacities are fired in
synchronism. The intervals between the initial pulse and the first bubble
pulse will be different for each gun. The pressure signal actually recorded
from the array will consist of an impulse representing the sum of the initial
pulses, followed by a train of weaker bubble pulses spread out over a period
of time and partially canceling each other.
 The Principle of Operation of a Bolt Air-gun:
1. High-pressure air flows continuously into the upper chamber and through
the shuttle into the lower chamber.
2. Opening the solenoid valve puts high-pressure air under the upper shuttle
seat, causing the shuttle to move upward, opening the lower chamber and
allowing its air to flow out through ports to form a bubble of high-
pressure air in the water.
 The size of a gun is the size of its lower chamber.

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2) Water Gun:
 It is used when sharp, clean, bubble-free impulses are needed and greater
source power is not as important.
 The water gun consists of an underwater metal chamber filled with water and
a mechanism for rapidly pushing that water out. Upon activation, the water
gun accelerates its contained water to a high velocity, producing a jet of
current in the surrounding water. When all of the water has been driven out
of the chamber, the jet abruptly terminates. Inertia produces a void behind
the moving slug of water. Collapse of the surrounding water into the void
produces an implosion, which in turn, generates an acoustic pulse.
 Because the collapse is into a void, there is no gas or air to be compressed.

3) Aquapulse:
 It consists of a cylindrical cage of metal pipes inside a rubber tube. Inside the
cage, a mixture of propane and oxygen gases was detonated by a spark plug.

4) Aquaseis:
 It employs a 100-ft length of towed explosive in ribbon form such as
Primacord.

Marine Detectors

Hydrophone:
 The hydrophone is made of a piezoelectric material.
 When stressed, there is an e.m.f., its voltage is proportional to the intensity of one
component of the ground motion (acceleration).
 The function of any underwater source is to introduce a sudden pressure impulse
into water.

Ocean Bottom Seismometer:


 A three-component seismometer is deployed about 1.5 m to the side of the
instrument carrier. The fourth channel, a hydrophone, is mounted to the main
frame. The acoustic transponder enables time independent anchor release and
tracking.

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Cables Used in Marine Surveying

1) Multiple-Channel Streamer Cables


 It is a plastic tube of 2 1⁄2 to 3 inch in diameter, neutrally buoyant and filled
with oil.
 The live segments:
 Most marine surveying use cables 3000 (or more, 6000) m long, which
contain 96 to 480 (or more, 1000) recording segments, each feeding a
separate channel. Individual live segments are 12 to 30 m long, and each
may contain 6 to 15 hydrophones.
 The hydrophones, wires, and transformers are inside the plastic tube, which
is acoustically and optically transparent. Also inside the tube are steel cables,
the strain members, that provide the mechanical strength to tow the entire
length of the cable.
 The lead-in cable:
 It is a heavy armored cable of about 200 m long, from the ship to the
beginning of the neutrally buoyant streamer cable. It is used to depress the
hydrophone cable to its operating depth and to provide some isolation from
the pitching and tossing motion of the ship.
 The stretch section:
 After the lead-in is a section called a stretch section. Its stress members are
made of nylon rope or similar resilient material. Within the stretch section
the electric conductors or optical fibers are loosely coiled or bunched so that
the entire section can stretch as much as 30 % without rupturing. Much of
the vibration that is not attenuated by the lead-in is presumed to be absorbed
by the stretch section.
 The buoy:
 At the after end of the streamer there is about 200 m of rope to which a buoy
is attached. The buoy serves to mark the end of the cable.
 The depth controllers:
 At suitable intervals along the cable, 8 or 10 pressure-sensitive depth
controllers (birds) keep the cable at the optimum depth. The controller is set
for the desired depth, and a pressure gauge actuates the wings when the

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actual depth of the cable begins to deviate from that for which the setting
was made.
 Orientation of the cable:
 To enable the shape and orientation of the cable to be determined, remote-
reading magnetic compasses are attached to the streamer at 6 or 8 positions
along its length. Also high-frequency acoustic signal generators are
sometimes deployed off each side of the ship’s stern and used for sound
ranging to the front end of the cable. By combining the compass data with
the sound-ranging information, both the shape and position of the cable can
be determined relative to the ship. This information is automatically
recorded and used in subsequent data processing and in the generation of
base maps to show the actual location of the seismic line.

2) Single-Channel Streamer Cables:


 It is used in shallow reconnaissance surveys as well as in engineering surveys.
Because only one channel is used, it is economically feasible to introduce many
more hydrophone elements (100) into a 300-ft length of cable. This number
results in a better response to high frequencies than is usual for 30 elements per
channel.

3) Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC):


There are several advantages in acquiring seismic data using an ocean-bottom
cable:
1) The seafloor is generally a quieter environment to record seismic data than the
surface, with better coupling, and shorter traveltimes in deep-water surveys. The
result is often seismic data with improved signal content and bandwidth
compared to conventional towed streamers.
2) The separation of the cable from the recording vessel means that surveys can be
acquired with unusual geometries and not just in terms of infill opportunities for
towed streamer surveys in congested oil fields. Broader azimuth distributions
facilitate the illumination of complex structures, undershooting of shallow
anomalies, and P-wave fracture analysis. In addition, the ability to record ultra-

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long offsets (10-15 km and beyond) enables imaging of extremely deep
prospects with enhanced AVO analysis.

4) Shallow-water Exploration:
For shallow-water exploration, bottom-reference cables, for which sensors
maintain a constant elevation above the water bottom, or cables which lie on the
bottom are frequently used.

5) Distributed System:
When the area to be surveyed covers the transition zone, that is, the area from the
shore to deeper water in which marine streamers can be used, or in deeper water
where reefs, platforms, or other structures prevent the towing of cables, recourse is
had to distributed systems that do not employ cables.

Field Procedures
(Land and Marine)
Need of multiple-channel recording:
(Identification of Signals from Noise)

A) Single-fold coverage:
1) Simple spread (single-ended) arrangement
2) Split-spread arrangement
B) Multiple-fold coverage:
3) Common-Depth Point (CDP) arrangement

Reflection Procedures at Sea

A) 2D Shooting
 Most marine reflection surveys today are carried out as single-ship operations.
The same ship tows both the energy source (air gun array) and the recording
cable.
 Common-Depth Point (CDP) Shooting:
 All marine reflection work is carried out with CDP shooting.
 The time interval between the shots depends on the degree of
multiplicity, for example:
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- In 6-fold coverage, the shot is fired every 200 minute.
- In 12-fold coverage, the shot is fired every 100 minute.
 CDP shooting offers further cancellation of noise, such as multiples and
random noise. The use of simple arrays of shots or geophones for canceling
noise is used only where the noise has wavelengths that are not greater than
the lengths of the arrays themselves.
 Multiple streamer cable: ‫هتتكلم عنها‬
 Air gun array: ‫هتتكلم عنها‬
 Feathering:
 It is important to know the actual position of the cable as it is towed through
the water. Due to cross currents, the cable drifts away from the line of
motion of the ship and the positions of the hydrophones are different from
those assumed in making time corrections for CDP stacking, appreciable
deterioration of the processed data could result.
 The effects of excessive feathering upon data quality depend on the dip and
structural relief of the reflecting formations.
 Many oil companies require that operations be shut down when the current
across the shooting line becomes strong enough for the deviation of the cable
to go beyond specific limits.

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B) 3D Shooting:
 When marine reflection surveys are carried out as single-ship operations, the
same ship tows both the energy source (air gun arrays) and many recording
cable.
 A single ship tows two sources alternate firing and a single recording cable.
 With the recent trend to conduct reflection surveys during the course of field
development (and permits surveying of lines directly beneath drilling rigs, reefs
or other impediments to a ship's passage), it has become the practice to use two
ships simultaneously. Each ship is equipped with both a source array and a
recording cable. The two ships travel abreast a few hundred feet apart.
Typically, the two ships alternate firing their source arrays. In the simplest
configuration for such two-ship operations, three subsurface profiles are
recorded during the traverse of a line.
 Two-ship shooting: The source arrays S1 and S2 are offset from the ship. The
receiver arrays R1 and R2 are towed behind the ship (sometimes offset from the
ship’s center line by a small distance).
Four subsurface lines of coverage correspond to the four possible combinations
of source and receiver. To obtain uniformly spaced subsurface lines the distance
between the two receiver arrays must be twice the distance between source and
receiver for each boat individually.

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Refraction Procedures at Sea
1) Two-ships Refraction:
 The source of energy was dynamite, using one ship for shooting and another
for recording.
 This method has been used mainly for reconnaissance surveys in unexpected
areas.
2) Sonobuoy Refraction:
 It is self-contained system for receiving sound waves in the water and
transmitting them to a distant receiving point (on the ship) by radio.
 This method has been used in academic marine surveys, and became
practical for petroleum exploration in late 1960s.
 When the buoy is thrown into the water from a ship, the hydrophones drop
from the bottom of the floating buoy to a depth of about 60 ft, and a 3-ft
antenna for transmission of the hydrophone signals by radio springs into the
air from its top.

Noise in Marine Surveying


 Some noise, which are recorded on land, are also observed on marine records. One
type of noise, rarely encountered in land work, is predominant in marine shooting.
This is surface-layer reverberation (singing or ringing). It is caused by multiple
reflection (both at the source and receivers), that bounce back and forth between
the top and bottom of the water layer.
 The frequency spectrum for reverberation in a water layer with a hard bottom
having a sound speed much higher than that of the water can be computed. The

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fundamental frequency is 1⁄4 of the reciprocal of the one-way time through the
water layer, and frequencies for higher harmonics are odd multiples of this
frequency, as expressed by:

fn = (2n − 1)Vw ⁄4dw


Where:
fn = Frequency of nth harmonic (n = any integer).

Vw = Speed of sound in water.

dw = Thickness of water layer.

Example: for water layer of 100 ft thickness (dw = 100 ft), Vw = 5000 ft/s. The
fundamental frequency would be 12 1⁄2 Hz, with harmonics at 37 1⁄2, 62 1⁄2,
87 1⁄2, ……… Hz.

Position Location for Marine Surveying


The precise determination of position coordinates is an important aspect of all
geophysical surveys, whether on land or in marine areas.

1) Radio Navigation Systems (1940s): reflection radar, Loran, Shoran continuous-


wave methods, phase-comparison methods.
2) Transit Satellite Systems (1960s).
3) Global Positioning System (GPS, 1980s).
4) Hyperbolic Systems: The hyperbolic technique involves the use of three shore
stations. Differences (usually expressed as integers) in lane count between two
adjacent pairs of stations are plotted on a map as a family of hyperbolas for each
pair. The differences as measured for the respective pairs are located on the map.
The actual position is plotted at the intersection point of the respective hyperbolas.

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Instruments for Measuring Gravity at Sea
There are two types of meters used for measuring gravity in water-covered areas:

1) Bottom Meters:
 It is lowered from a ship to the water bottom in a waterproof housing,
whereupon it is leveled and read on board ship.
 It is used where an anomaly of small areal extent (such as from a salt dome)
must be mapped with the highest possible precision.
 Such as Gulf gravimeter and LaCoste-Romberg gravimeter
 LaCoste-Romberg gravimeter is equipped with a servo system to compensate
for vertical motion. It also reads gravity automatically and presents it digitally
on a shipboard display unit.

2) Shipborne Meters
 It measures the gravity on board a ship, being mounted on a platform stabilized
by accessory equipment in order to minimize the effect of the ship’s motion on
the observed acceleration.
 It is used for reconnaissance surveys over large areas where the anomalies are
large that high resolution in following lateral variations is not needed.
 The principal obstacle to obtaining useful gravity information from an
instrument on a ship is the fact that motions of the ship (such as pitch, roll, and
heave) are accompanied by accelerations, which are themselves much greater
than the gravity differences to be measured. For a shipborne gravity meter to
work at all, it is necessary, to neutralize (by compensation or averaging) the
accelerations associated with the motion of the ship itself.
 The precision obtainable from shipborne meters is not generally as great as that
from bottom meters, but for most regional or reconnaissance surveys the
accuracy of 1 mGal or better that can be obtained from shipborne surveys is
quite adequate.

Land Meters:

 Land meters can be used for measuring gravity in shallow water-covered areas by
constructing platforms so that readings could be taken above the water level using

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land meters. Also, it can be used as bottom meter by lowering it to the water
bottom in diving bells.

Marine Magnetic Data Collection


 The sensor is towed behind the vessel at a distance of up to 1500 ft (500 m), which
is necessary to reduce the magnetic effects of the towing vessel.
 Time variations in the earth’s magnetic field produce problems similar to those
encountered in aeromagnetic work.

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Marine Geophysics Questions & Answers
I) Put (√) or (×) and correct (the underlined word) if needed:
Answer
1. The bubble oscillation period is proportional to the maximum
radius of the bubble. √

2. The bubble oscillation period is inversely proportional to the depth


of the bubble center. √

3. Capacities of air-guns range from 1 to 5000 m3 or more and ×


operate at a pressure of 2000 lb/in2. in3
4. In marine shooting, an array of air-guns having small capacities ×
are fired in synchronism. different
5. The stretch cable is used to depress the hydrophone cable to its
×
operating depth and to provide some isolation from the pitching
lead-in
and tossing motion of the ship.
6. The effects of excessive feathering upon data quality depend on
the dip and structural relief of the reflecting formations. √
7. The controller is set for the desired depth, and a pressure gauge
actuates the wings when the actual depth of the cable begins to √
deviate from that for which the setting was made.
8. Remote reading magnetic compasses and high-frequency acoustic
signal generators are used to obtain both the shape and position of √
the cable relative to the ship.
9. CDP is multiple channel and single-fold coverage ×
multiple
10.The surface-layer reverberation is caused by multiple refraction
×
(both at the source and receivers), that bounce back and forth
reflection
between the top and bottom of the water layer.
11.All marine reflection work is carried out with CDP shooting. √
12.The marine magnetic sensor is towed behind the vessel at a
distance of up to 500 m, which is necessary to reduce the magnetic √
effects of the towing vessel.

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13.The frequency of the marine seismic source is proportional to the ×
penetrated depth. inversely
proportional
14.Where natural or artificial impediments occur, distributed
hydrophone systems can be used for seismic data acquisition. √

15.The OBC seismic data has improved signal content and bandwidth
compared to conventional towed streamers. √

II)Complete the following:


1. A delay effect of the shock wave is an oscillatory flow of water, which gives rise to
subsequent pressure pulses designed as bubble oscillation.
2. In flexotir source, the mesh made by the perforations in the spherical enclosure has
the effect of breaking up the bubble.
3. The bubble in maxipulse is recorded by a detecting hydrophone on the injector
device for final processing.
4. The water gun is used when sharp, clean, bubble-free impulses are needed and
greater source power is not as important.
5. Sonobuoy refraction is self-contained system for receiving sound waves in the
water and transmitting them to a distant receiving point (on the ship) by radio.
6. In water gun, because the collapse of the surrounding water is into a void, there is
no gas or air to be compressed.
7. The hydrophone is made of a piezoelectric material.
8. Stressing hydrophone creates an e.m.f., its voltage is proportional to the intensity
of one component of the ground motion.
9. The process by which the cable drifts away from the line of motion of the ship is
known as feathering.
10.The fundamental frequency of reverberation is 1⁄4 of the reciprocal of the one-
way time through the water layer.
11.In marine gravity surveying, the bottom meter is used where an anomaly of small
extent must be mapped with high precision.
12. CDP is a multiple channel and a multiple fold coverage.
13.The bubble oscillation period is proportional to the maximum radius of the
bubble.

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14.The bubble oscillation period is inversely proportional to the depth of the bubble
center.
15.Efficiently of any marine seismic source is maximum at an antinode, which occurs
at depths equal to any odd number of quarter wavelengths.

III) Write on:


1. Air-gun. Page 2, 3
2. Noise in marine surveying. Page 10, 11
3. 3D seismic shooting using two ships. Page 9
4. 2D seismic shooting. Page 7, 8
5. Correlate between single- and multiple-channel streamer cables. Page 5, 6
6. Feathering during marine seismic surveying. Page 8
7. Correlate between air-gun and water-gun. Page 2, 3, 4

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