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Seismic technology provider Stryde, through ongoing work with geophysical technology and data acquisition company Explor, has finalised a seismic imaging trial for a project on mountainous terrain in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.

Mountains present a significant challenge for any sector seeking to map the subsurface to determine the presence and prevalence of resources, from mining and water management to energy.The steepness and narrowness of mountain paths present a significant health and safety risk and can prevent large teams or vehicles from accessing different locations of the site, in some cases necessitating the use of helicopters to transport equipment, says Stryde.

However, helicopters present not only a significant expense and source of carbon emissions, but a considerable health and safety risk.

Therefore, any technology used in these locations must require the least intervention and enable independent operation, states Stryde.

The mountainous area imaged by Explor was particularly inaccessible, reaching over 2 000 m in height, with the steepest slope gradients exceeding 40°. The steep slopes and the presence of large, unstable boulder fields in this area meant that the only way to deploy nodes was on foot.

Stryde points out that, although equipment carried by people needs to be of limited weight to avoid injury, the weight limitations mean that a large team or personnel is required to carry a large number of otherwise conventional nodes needed to accurately map the subsurface.

In the recent partnership between Explor and Stryde, Explor trialled Stryde’s Nimble system as a receiver in conjunction with Explor’s innovative PinPoint seismic source to gather a two-dimensional (2D) seismic line and confirm the suitability of Stryde’s solutions in mountainous terrain.

EASILY DEPLOYABLE

The small size of Stryde’s nodes and 150 g weight meant that Explor’s team of three personnel were able to deploy more than one node a minute.

The enablement of this small team size also proved crucial with the project taking place between June and September 2020, during Covid-19 restrictions for onsite personnel.

Further, Stryde provided remote support for the initial setup and Explor was able to activate and distribute the nodes independently during the trial.

Stryde’s nodes can continuously record seismic data for at least 28 days at temperatures well below freezing, thereby reducing the need for interaction with the nodes once placed. Once data had been collected, it took two members of Explor’s team only three hours to retrieve several hundred Stryde nodes throughout the mountain terrain.

In addition, Explor was able to fit all the equipment needed for deployment and recording, including both the Stryde Nimble system and the PinPoint source system, into a single pickup truck and a 6 m trailer.

This is in contrast to a previous similar Explor seismic study, which had required a 15.2 m tractor trailer and a truck, plus 18 people, to transport the system into the seismic camp.

Explor president Allan Chatenay says that, to acquire a 2D line in extremely rugged terrain with just three people is “game-changing”, and a testament to Stryde’s “pioneering” system. “This technology will change the efficiency of seismic operations.”

“The whole trial was conducted successfully in half the time and with less than 20% of the people power that would typically be needed.”

Stryde CEO Mike Popham says technologies such as PinPoint enable zero environmental impact seismic acquisition. “We have demonstrated that any site, regardless of terrain, can be mapped with seismic technology with even a skeleton crew.”

He adds that the significant reductions in cost and environmental impact gained by eliminating the need for additional vehicles or line clearing can open up the power of seismic imaging of the subsurface to a whole range of industries and applications – from geothermal energy to mining to carbon capture and underground storage.

Furthermore, Explor has committed to another project using 20 000 Stryde nodes following the results of this trial.