Development of Towed Marine Seismic Vibrator as an Alternative Seismic Source

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 11:55
3024 (Moscone West)
Hiroaki Ozasa1, Hitoshi Mikada2, Fumitoshi Murakami3, Ehsan Jamali Hondori3, Junichi Takekawa2, Eiichi Asakawa3 and Fumio Sato1, (1)IHI Corporation, Yokohama, Japan, (2)Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, (3)JGI, Inc., Tokyo, Japan
The principal issue with respect to marine impulsive sources to acquire seismic data is if the emission of acoustic energy inflicts harm on marine mammals or not, since the volume of the source signal being released into the marine environment could be so large compared to the sound range of the mammals. We propose a marine seismic vibrator as an alternative to the impulsive sources to mitigate a risk of the impact to the marine environment while satisfying the necessary conditions of seismic surveys. These conditions include the repeatability and the controllability of source signals both in amplitude and phase for high-quality measurements. We, therefore, designed a towed marine seismic vibrator (MSV) as a new type marine vibratory seismic source that employed the hydraulic servo system for the controllability condition in phase and in amplitude that assures the repeatability as well. After fabricating a downsized MSV that requires the power of 30 kVA at a depth of about 250 m in water, several sea trials were conducted to test the source characteristics of the downsized MSV in terms of amplitude, frequency, horizontal and vertical directivities of the generated field. The maximum sound level satisfied the designed specification in the frequencies ranging from 3 to 300 Hz almost omnidirectionally. After checking the source characteristics, we then conducted a trial seismic survey, using both the downsized MSV and an airgun of 480 cubic-inches for comparison, with a streamer cable of 2,000m long right above a cabled earthquake observatory in the Japan Sea. The result showed that the penetration of seismic signals generated by the downsized MSV was comparable to that by the airgun, although there was a slight difference in the signal-to-noise ratio. The MSV could become a versatile source that will not harm living marine mammals as an alternative to the existing impulsive seismic sources such as airgun.