Seafloor seismic acquisition using autonomous underwater vehicles
C. Tsingas, T. Brizard and A. Al Muhaidib
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 67, No 6, July 2019 pp. 1557 - 1570
Info: Article, PDF ( 34.73Mb )
Although narrow-azimuth towed-streamer data provide good image quality for struc-tural interpretation, it is generally accepted that for wide-azimuth marine surveys seabed receivers deliver superior seismic reflection measurements and seismically de-rived reservoir attributes. However, seabed surveys are not widely used due to the higher acquisition costs when compared to streamer acquisition. In recent years, there have been significant engineering efforts to automate receiver deployment and retrieval in order to minimize the cost differential and conduct cost-efficient seabed receiver seismic surveys. These engineering efforts include industrially engineered nodes, nodes on a rope deployment schemes and even robotic nodes, which swim to and from the deployment location. This move to automation is inevitable, leading to robotization of seismic data acquisition for exploration and development activities in the oil and gas industry. We are developing a robotic-based technology, which uti-lizes autonomous underwater vehicles as seismic sensors without the need of using a remotely operated vehicle for deployment and retrieval. In this paper, we describe the autonomous underwater vehicle evolution throughout the project years from initial heavy and bulky nodes to fully autonomous light and flexible underwater receivers. Results obtained from two field pilot tests using different generations of autonomous underwater vehicles indicate that the seismic coupling, and navigation based on un-derwater acoustics are very reliable and robust.