Research Note: Low-frequency pneumatic seismic sources
S. Chelminski, L.M. Watson and S. Ronen
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 67, No 6, July 2019 pp. 1547 - 1556
Info: Article, PDF ( 3.78Mb )
Pneumatic seismic sources, commonly known as airguns, have been serving us well for decades, but there is an increasing need for sources with improved low-frequency signal and reduced environmental impact. In this paper, we present a new pneumatic source that is designed to achieve these goals by operating with lower pressures and larger volumes. The new source will release more air creating larger bubbles with longer bubble periods than airguns. The release of the air will be tuned so that the rise time will be longer and the sound pressure level and its slope will be lower. Certain engineering features will eliminate cavitation. Larger bubbles increase low-frequency content of the signal, longer rise times decrease mid-frequency content and the elimination of cavitation reduces high-frequency content. We have not yet built a full-scale version of the new source. However, we have manufactured a small-scale low-pressure source incorporating most of the engineering features, and tested it in a lake. Here, we present the lake data that, as expected, show a significant reduction in the sound pressure level, increase in rise time, decrease in slope and decrease in high-frequency content while maintaining the same low-frequency content when the source prototype is operated at low pressure compared with high pressure. Synthetic data produced by numerical modelling of the full-scale proposed pneumatic source suggest that the new source will improve the low-frequency content and can produce geophysically useful signal down to 1 Hz.