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Ultra-wide band sensor networks in oil and gas explorations

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6 Author(s)

Seismic exploration and monitoring for oil and gas reservoirs is a peculiar application that requires a large number (1000-2000 nodes/sqkm) of geophone sensors deployed outdoors over large areas (≥ 40 sqkm) to measure backscattered wave fields from artificial sources. A storage/processing unit or sink node collects the measurements from all the geophones to obtain an image of the sub-surface. The existing cabling system to connect sensors is known to cause inefficiencies, large logistic and weight costs, as well as insufficient flexibility in survey design. Oil companies are therefore expecting that wireless connectivity will provide the enabling technology for future seismic explorations. This application represents a new challenging research area for the wireless community. Early results suggest that current off-the-shelf radio solutions do not guarantee the minimum requirements in terms of system usability and energy consumption, not even for current deployment size. This article presents a tutorial view to introduce the basic principles of seismic acquisition systems that are necessary to define the wireless geophone network specifications. Strict sampling synchronization constraint over large geographic areas, high precision sensor localization, and high data rate are all requirements calling for a scalable network system where Ultra-Wide Band radio transmissions play a key role as the only viable technology.

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 4 )