As the world’s thirst for energy continues unabated, the risks we are taking to find and produce our finite supply of fossil fuels will only intensify. Not just monetary risks, but safety and environmental risks as well. The human and environmental tragedy of the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon is a prime example. We are producing oil in more and more difficult conditions all the time; most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. The recent blow to the nuclear industry at Fukushima only puts additional pressure on fossil fuels. Continuing innovation in sub-ocean bottom imaging is crucial to minimizing risk as we continue our search for new sources of energy. Assessing potential energy resources (and hazards) such as gas hydrates requires new methods of high-resolution imaging.
Likewise, as our cities grow, especially those in earthquake-prone regions, it becomes ever more important to make sure that the bridges we are building and the tunnels we are digging are designed to withstand what Mother Earth might have in store. Paleoseismology is difficult on land, even with the advantage of trenching and direct observation. In marine environments, charting the recent earthquake history of an area, central to assessing future risk, is exceedingly difficult. Most of the world’s ocean-side nuclear plants were constructed prior to the existence of high-resolution seismic technology capable of imaging the near-surface features that tell us much about earthquake risk. Hence the recent controversy over the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant in California, where micro-earthquake activity acquired over the last few decades has illuminated the so-called “Shoreline Fault”, a previously-unknown fault just offshore of the facility that has at least the potential of changing the seismic risk assessment.
In short, we need new ways to image smaller targets. The last 30 years have witnessed amazing progress in 3D imaging for deep exploration, but relatively little has been done at the other end of the spectrum. Geometrics is leading and transforming the future of marine HR3D with the revolutionary P -Cable system. Based on our tried-and-true GeoEel technology, the P-Cable is an innovative platform for towing up to 24 short streamers from small vessels of opportunity with minimal crew. For marginally more cost than a conventional 2D high-resolution seismic survey, you can have true 3D data with all the attendant advantages — better imaging of more complex structures, less directional bias, full 3D migration and better preservation of high frequencies. The resulting data are simply amazing and the resolution unprecedented.