When Geos Hit the Road: India

Those of us who are geoscientists (or “Geos”), or just those of us who “hang with” them, know that Geos like to hit the road, both on and off the beaten path, to discover.  Sometimes these adventures are intended geo-focused trips, other times they’re a welcome distraction. We’ve asked some NEOS Geos to share some of their treasured photos from recent global adventures.  With summer just kicking into gear, these shots will inspire you to get planning, and get out there!

Geoscientist, Maggie recently ventured to India for a wedding yet could’t help but be enthralled by the sandstone landscape and volcanic beds, as only a true “Geo” would be in northwestern India.

A note from Maggie, “I was primarily in India to attend a wedding (in Mumbai), but I decided to visit longer and check out India. We decided to go to Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India , which is well known for the Thar desert, beautiful forts and palaces, history, and for being colorful (both in Architecture and dress). We spent ~10 days there, traveling by train (and uhh… camel).”

A close-up shot of the Mehrangarh Fort. Fun fact: The fort itself is made of Jodhpur Sandstone. But at the base of the fort is a contact with PreCambrian volcanic beds (some of the oldest rocks in India). It’s actually a National Geologic Monument (which I didn’t know until I got back to the US!)

A close-up shot of the Mehrangarh Fort. Fun fact: The fort itself is made of Jodhpur Sandstone. But at the base of the fort is a contact with PreCambrian volcanic beds (some of the oldest rocks in India). It’s actually a National Geologic Monument.

View of Mehrangarh Fort and momument to Jodha Ji (the man who founded the city). Also has a good view of those volcanic rocks

View of Mehrangarh Fort and momument to Jodha Ji (the man who founded the city). Also has a good view of those volcanic rocks

Overlook of Jaisalmer, “The golden city”. All the buildings are made of sandstone and many are ornately sculpted.

Overlook of Jaisalmer, “The golden city”. All the buildings are made of sandstone and many are ornately sculpted.

Hanging out with my camel, “Tiger”. We are in the Thar desert.

Hanging out with my camel, “Tiger” in the Thar desert.

Summer Reading List: The Sheltering Sky

ShelteringSkyMy 10th grade English teacher turned me on to the world of flowing elegant prose.  By exposing the thirty or so teens in her class to a variety of great authors, dissecting their similarities and differences, and encouraging us to copy their styles (in order to find our own individual ‘voices’), she helped us to gain a deep appreciation and love for writing that, in my case at least, stays with me to this day.

In my opinion, The Sheltering Sky is one of the greatest pieces of modern literature I’ve ever come across (thanks AJ!).  It reminds me in style somewhat of Hemingway, only with a much deeper layers of character development and storytelling complexity.  I think this reviewer on GoodReads sums it up best:

The thing I love about Bowles is he brings a composer’s mind to writing. His novel isn’t propelled forward by a strong plot (although it has plot) or attractive characters (none of the characters are very attractive), but the music of his language alone pushes and pulls, tugs and compels the reader page after page. It felt very much like I was floating limp and languid in Bowles prose as his hypnotic sentences washed over me and drifted me slowly toward the inevitable end.

The Sheltering Sky was included in both Time magazine’s and The Modern Library’s ‘100 Best’ lists of literature in the 20th century.  It may not be the most uplifting of tales, but it is certainly one of the most beautifully written.

Summer Reading List: The Sixth Extinction

6thExtinctionWe’ll launch our summer 2015 reading list with The Sixth Extinction, one of the most profound books I’ve read in many years.  Framed in a layman-approachable style by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction offers a series of global mini-case studies chronicling what many scientists believe will be the most devastating extinction event since the Yucatan asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly contracted.  The Sixth Extinction weaves together present-day field observations, evidence from the paleo-geologic rock record, and the best current thinking on evolutionary biology. Elizabeth travels around the world talking to some of the world’s leading scientists, drawing upon their direct, field-based observations of everything from frogs and birds in the Amazon to bats in the caves of the northeast.

The question to be resolved – has the emergence of human beings fundamentally altered the delicate balance among species and poised mankind on an unalterable path towards the sixth extinction?

It’s a compelling topic that the author – who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for the book – addresses in a most thoughtful way.  I can’t think of a more appealing summer read for anyone with a geo-background or who simply reflects on the question, ‘where is all this heading’?

ExtinctionEvents

Friday Fun: Tour Subterranean Passageways


While at NEOS we image the subsurface, others must excavate to see what’s below the surface. 40 meters below London, a huge excavation initiative is currently underway for railway expansion in a project called the Crossrails Project. Watch this mesmerizing drone-captured video to get a glimpse at what 26 miles of quiet, eerie, space-like tunnels under bustling London look like.

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.

LiDAR_PA

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…

blog satellite pic

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

 

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