A View from Space: Remote Sensing

In this blog series on publicly available data we have thus far looked closely at the value (and limitation) of satellite data. There currently exists more than 2,200 satellites orbiting the earth, many providing a steady stream of scientific data.

One might argue that the primary benefit of satellite data, at least in the case of oil and has exploration, is its ability to reach parts of the Earth, cost-effectively, that are otherwise too difficult to access or photograph, providing datasets of value to industry geoscientists.

High value can also come from remote sensing, which is the use of aerial photography [often satellites], combined with other methods to view that which cannot be seen by the unaided eye.

In this post we look more closely at airborne LiDAR remote sensing data available in the public domain. Just like satellite data, there are limitations to this data as well as great value.  In any case, our geoscientists are nonetheless able to generate many of the same interpretive products you need to explore using this, and other publicly available data, including:

  • Assessments of basin-scale geologic trends
  • Maps of basin architecture and regional structure
  • Maps of key lineaments, regional fault systems, and intrusions
  • 2-D and 3-D structural and stratigraphic models
  • Maps of basement topography, faulting and composition
  • Assessments of relative acreage prospectivity derived using predictive analytics.

Read on to understand how remote sensing data plays a roll in multi-measurement interpretation.

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LiDAR DSM (Digital Surface Model) taken over Pennsylvania

Remote Sensing

What is it/How is it used: LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a publicly available airborne remote sensing technology that collects 3-D point clouds of the Earth’s surface and is used for high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs). The system works by illuminating a target with a laser scanner, the reflected light produces values that are then integrated with other on-board systems and recorded.

Value: The airborne data from LiDAR is at a high resolution and can detect subtle topographic features such as fault interpretations, lineament interpretations, or surface changes over time.

Limitations: LiDAR data availability and cost vary from state to state in the USA.  Some states offer LiDAR data free.  Therefore, despite a high resolution product, availability is extremely limited.

It Just Keeps Getting Better…

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At NEOS, we were excited to hear the news last week that there is a new way being developed to launch satellites into space.  Using airplanes to launch the satellites into space will save money and time (though happy I won’t be asked to fly that mission).  The report speaks about advantages to internet access and real-time tracking of airlines.  Of course, we immediately think about the benefits this could have on G&G satellite data.  Better quality and more data.  We like the sound of that.

Click on the photo above for the entire report.

A View From Space: Gravity & Magnetic Data

A new way to look at the Earth began with the launch of the first satellite in 1957.  Today more than 2,200 satellites orbit the Earth, many providing a steady stream of scientific data. Accurate satellite imagery may be the most cost-effective source of data collection in oil and gas exploration.  And it often has the ability to reach parts of the Earth that are otherwise too difficult to access.

The most common and valuable types of satellite data used in the energy industry include multi-spectral, hyperspectral, gravity, magnetic and remote sensing (the use of aerial photography [often satellites], combined with other methods to view that which cannot be seen by the unaided eye).

NEOS geoscientists generate valuable interpretive products using satellite or public data, including:

  • Assessments of basin-scale geologic trends
  • Maps of basin architecture and regional structure
  • Maps of key lineaments, regional fault systems, and intrusions
  • 2-D and 3-D structural and stratigraphic models
  • Maps of basement topography, faulting and composition
  • Assessments of relative acreage prospectivity derived using predictive analytics.

In this blog series, we look closely at the data provided by satellites that reside in the public domain, to see what value can be gleaned, as well as encountered limitations that result from partial spatial samples or true global coverage.

GRACE Satellite – Data available via Center for Space Research

The above images are provided by University of Texas Center for Space Research and NASA.

The above images are provided by University of Texas Center for Space Research and NASA.

What is it:  The GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) mission is dedicated to making detailed measurements of the Earth’s gravity field anomalies.  Its twin satellites fly about 220 kilometers apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers above Earth.  They map the Earth’s gravity field by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using GPS and a microwave ranging system. GRACE is on an extended mission, which is expected to continue through 2015.

The GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite is also used to measure gravity.  Orbiting at the lowest altitude of any observation satellite, its instrumentation was a highly sensitive gravity gradiometer, mapping the Earth’s gravity field at unprecedented resolution.

Bouguer gravity anomaly, distinguishing thick from thin crust by more negative and positive values. Image provide by ESA/IRENA.

Bouguer gravity anomaly, distinguishing thick from thin crust by more negative and positive values. Image provide by ESA/IRENA.

Value:  Gravity data is used to define areas of varying density within the Earth for insights into subsurface structure and composition.  Satellite gravity data has improved greatly in the last five years and is ideal for imaging basin and tectonic elements, and regional reconnaissance.  The data is available for most parts of the world, including both onshore and offshore environments.  Also, since the gravity satellite data is available now, there is no lag time for acquiring new data.

Limitations:  Like most satellite data, the limitation of the satellite data is resolution.  It cannot detect subtle variations in the subsurface.

Swarm Satellite – Data available via ESA

‘Snapshot’ of the main magnetic field at Earth’s surface as of June 2014 based on Swarm data.  Red represents areas where the magnetic field is stronger, while blues show areas where it is weaker. Image provide by ESA.

‘Snapshot’ of the main magnetic field at Earth’s surface as of June 2014 based on Swarm data. Red represents areas where the magnetic field is stronger, while blues show areas where it is weaker. Image provide by ESA.

What is it:  As for magnetic data, there have been several satellites since the late 1970s that have collected the Earth’s magnetic field.  The most recent is the SWARM mission, which is comprised of three identical satellites.  These satellites have new generation instruments to deliver extremely accurate satellite magnetic data.  It joins the Orsted and CHAMP satellites, both still in operation.

Value:  Magnetic data deduces subsurface lithology and structure, including the presence of ore deposits, intrusive and extrusive bodies, and faults.  In hydrocarbon exploration, magnetic techniques help geoscientists infer both total sediment thickness and the thermal maturation history of a basin by imaging the basement structure.

Limitations:  Again, the limitations of the magnetic satellite data is resolution.  It is ideally used for regional reconnaissance or basin imaging, where preliminary insights can help guide more detailed programs aimed at highgrading acreage or sweet spot mapping.

A View from Space: Multi-spectral and Hyperspectral Data

The first satellite was launched in 1957 by the Soviets (Sputnik 1), quickly followed by one launched by the Americans (Explorer 1).  And so began a new way to look at the Earth.  Today more than 2,200 satellites orbit the Earth, many providing a steady stream of scientific data.

Accurate satellite imagery may be the most cost-effective source of data collection in oil and gas exploration available today. It often has the ability to reach parts of the Earth that are otherwise too difficult to access or photograph, providing datasets of value to industry geoscientists.

In the case of oil and gas exploration, the most common and valuable types of satellite data include multi-spectral, hyperspectral, gravity, magnetic and remote sensing (the use of aerial photography [often satellites], combined with other methods to view that which cannot be seen by the unaided eye).

Although some of these datasets may not contain the spatial sampling, therefore resolution, associated with NEOS’ new data acquisition programs, our geoscientists are nonetheless able to generate many of the same interpretive products you need to explore, including:

  • Assessments of basin-scale geologic trends
  • Maps of basin architecture and regional structure
  • Maps of key lineaments, regional fault systems, and intrusions
  • 2-D and 3-D structural and stratigraphic models
  • Maps of basement topography, faulting and composition
  • Assessments of relative acreage prospectivity derived using predictive analytics.

In this blog series we look closely at the data provided by satellites that reside in the public domain, to see what value can be gleaned as well as encountered limitations that result from limited spacial samples or true global coverage.

Multi-Spectral Data

ASTER-NASA

(Left) ASTER multi-spectral satellite data and (right) public data from the NASA earth observatory website. Both show oil slicks on surface of the water. The one on the left highlights slicks and their buildup on the coast after an oil spill disaster.

What is it/How is it used: The Landsat 8 is a polar orbiting satellite system that collects publically-available multi-spectral data of the entire Earth every 16 days. One common use might be to detect lithologies or minerologies (such as iron, clay and carbonate) on the Earth’s surface. For offshore use, it is often used to look at sea migrations.  With the detection of sea temperature variations, it can detect offshore seeps which can be used for oil spill management.

Value: Because of its continual orbit of the earth, there is a significant amount of Landsat 8 data available. It is optimal for assessing large swaths of land. NEOS has incorporated Landsat 8 data previously in various neoBASIN programs as part of the ‘ground’ component of the project to “postage stamp” the area and cross correlate the data with later-collected NEOS airborne hyperspectral data.

Limitations: Unfortunately, the Landsat 8 has a relatively lower spectral resolution, with 11 bands. It has difficulty detecting onshore oil seeps; they are often too small at this resolution.  The spectral resolution also limits our detection of specific minerals as well as indirect hydrocarbon features.

Hyperspectral Data

Hyperion coverage for the San Juan project. There were two separate images taken at different times.

Hyperion data over a large area. There were two separate images, of the same location, taken at different times.

What is it/How is it used: The Hyperion Sensor is another free satellite resource that collects hyperspectral data at 30 meter resolution pixels.  It can detect seepages and mineralogy at a higher spectral resolution than Landsat 8 with hundreds of spectral bands (as opposed to 11), though still at a lower resolution than NEOS acquired airborne Hyperspectral data (4-5 meter resolution). It collects data around the world, both onshore and offshore, but the total collection area is very limited.

Value: Hyperion data is of great value when cross checking/cross correlating with NEOS Hyperspectral data.  For neoBASIN projects, where Hyperspectral data isn’t a part of the program, NEOS can incorporate Hyperion data (when available) into the general interpretation for a little more insight into the area.

Limitations: The EO-1 satellite, that the Hyperion sensor is situated on, is not always collecting data, therefore global coverage is minimal.  The USGS does allow you to request areas for scanning but requests aren’t always fulfilled.

NEOS Presents for the First Time at Houston’s OTC

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NEOS is new to the world of offshore.  Not collectively inexperienced, just new. Recently we completed our first offshore project in the South Atlantic Margin. And we are currently finishing up a program in Lebanon that includes the transition zone along the Eastern Mediterranean coastline.

The integration, analysis and interpretation of geophysical data have a strong place in both the onshore and offshore environments. NEOS’ Emmanuel Schnetzler has been selected to present in this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Technical Program, covering the topic of geostatistical predictive analytic methods as they apply to offshore fields.

Stop by at next week’s conference to learn more about this emerging technology.

Advanced and Integrated Geophysical Interpretation

Assessing Uncertainty in Hydrocarbon Volumes with Application of a Workflow on a Field (#25967)

Tuesday, May 5th

10:14-10:36 AM – Room 606

Most Powerful Polar Storm Creates the Most Beautiful Photos

Aurora-001

Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland ©Schnetzler Photography

It is very likely that, last month, when the most powerful solar storm in years rattled Earth’s magnetic field, you continued on with your day, blissfully unaware.  It’s ok – most of us did.  That is, most of us, who do not reside in northerly regions like Canada, Alaska and Iceland. One lucky NEOS employee, Manu, and his wife, Greta (Schnetzler Photography), found themselves in Iceland at the time of the storm and managed to capture the Aurora Borealis (“Northern Lights”) at their most intense and most beautiful. Enjoy the geomagnetic storm in all its glory.

Aurora-004

Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland ©Schnetzler Photography

 

The Beauty (& Value) of Satellite Data

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Here at NEOS, we are fond of satellite G&G data, particularly because it’s usually easily accessible and, in almost all cases, free. So when we ran across another artist using just Google Earth satellite images and their imagination to make beautiful art, we took a moment to enjoy the ‘scenery’.

Federico Winer, an Argentine photographer, scours the planet’s landscape from the comfort of his home and, with some tweaking and color manipulation, creates breathtaking artwork of patterns from across the globe. Check out his series, ‘Ultradistancia’, on his website.

And if you want to see what beautiful images NEOS is creating using satellite data, check out our neoSCAN programs. You might be amazed what we can create in less than 100 days and for less than 50 cents per acre…

Bringing Home the Gold

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Axiom, a Houston-based brand strategy and marketing agency, has gone and added 4 new Gold ADDY awards to their shelves. NEOS is proud to have had one of our recent advertising series included among those selected for gold.

Multi-physicsThe Gold ADDYs, which recognize the highest level of creative excellence in the award show, were given out by the Houston chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) at the 53rd annual American Advertising Awards on Thursday, February 19th in Houston, Texas.

Congratulations to Axiom who had 12 entries recognized among the entries of over 50 local agencies and groups at this year’s ceremony. This new collection of Gold ADDYs will now adorn an already full shelf of Gold ADDYs won by Axiom in years past – keep up the great work, Team!

Click here, or on the image to the left, to view the winning brand awareness ad series created for NEOS.

NEOS Recognized Twice: Another product created for NEOS, a direct marketing print mailer piece from our Unlock the Potential campaign launched in late 2013, was selected for Citation of Excellence.

Happy Pi Day (3.14.15 9:26:53)

PI

 

Happy Pi Day – March 14, 2015 @ 9:26AM!!!

neoSCAN in Action: East Continent Rift Basin, USA

ContinentalRifting
Before Pangaea (the supercontinent that existed 300-100 million years ago), there was another supercontinent called Rodinia (which means The Motherland in Russian). Rodinia existed 1,100-750 million years ago in a geologic eon referred to as the Precambrian, which classes all geologic time periods from the formation of the Earth 4.55 billion years ago until 543 million years ago, when the Paleozoic era began.

Like all great supercontinents, Rodinia eventually succumbed to the forces of continental weakening and eventual break-up as hot magma formed under the supercontinent, ultimately resulting in thinning and extension of the mantle and rifting of the continental crust above. In the predecessor land mass of Laurentia (which is present day North America), these same forces eventually caused a series of failed and successful rifts to form roughly parallel to the present-day Appalachian Mountains.

The successful rifts formed to the southeast of the Appalachians, closer to the present-day Atlantic coastline.  The failed rifts formed further to the west and northwest and have, in recent times, taken on names like the Rome Trough or the Rough Creek Graben, an illustration for which is shown below (courtesy of the Kentucky Geological Society).

RoughCreekGraben

These rift structures filled in many places with nearly 20,000 feet of clastic sediment, with basin-fan complexes believed to be fairly prominent depositional sources. While these Precambrian rift basins were subject to significant and complex erosional, tectonic and thermal regimes since their deposition, some explorationists believe that the basins could be prospective for both oil & gas and minerals.

Conoco was one of the E&P operators that was attracted by the region’s potential in the early 1990’s. More recently, a consortium of oil & gas companies – including Chesapeake Energy – engaged with the Kentucky Geological Society to undertake a study of the area’s hydrocarbon potential, with special interest in deep gas and black shale development.

NEOS was recently asked to undertake a study of a 360,000 sqmi area spanning multiple states in the Eastern U.S. where these rift structures were known or believed to be present. There was a particular interest in an area having several contiguous rift blocks with a combined areal extent of 50,000 sqmi.

A topography map (top) and a Total Magnetic Intensity map (bottom) from the study area are shown below.  The general area of the Rough Creek Graben is highlighted in both images (white polygon).

Precambrian Rift neoSCAN Study Area (~360,000 sqmi) Topography map (middle), Total Magnetic Intensity (bottom)

Precambrian Rift neoSCAN Study Area (~360,000 sqmi)
Topography map (middle), Total Magnetic Intensity (bottom)

According to Chris Friedemann, Chief Commercial Officer for NEOS,

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”100%”]In roughly 90 days, we were able to identify some of the key structural features that affect hydrocarbon prospectivity in the study area, including sediment thickness and burial depths, basement topography and faulting, and the location of major lineaments and intrusive complexes.[/pullquote]

To learn more about the neoSCAN, click here to visit the relevant page on the NEOS web site (including a narrated slideshow describing the offering). To learn more about this project, click here (to read the press release) or send an email to the business developer responsible for the project (Paul Casey) using the function below.

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