Advanced Geophysical Instrumentation

The focus of this research area is the development of innovative geophysical hardware and methodologies for subsurface imaging and monitoring, such as high-resolution borehole tomographic tools (radar and seismic), and micro-earthquake monitoring systems. Specific examples include the following:

  • development of low-cost passive seismic sensor arrays
  • development of both passive and active seismic systems for utilizing micro-hole technology (boreholes that are smaller diameter and less expensive to drill)
  • development of an optimum electromagnetic system for detecting and identifying unexploded ordnance

In support of this capability, researchers throughout EESA and Berkeley Lab have access to the Geosciences Measurement Facility, a DOE-supported facility designed to develop and maintain a variety of geophysical and geoscience instrumentation and measurement equipment.

Additionally, the Geophysics Department continues development of seismic sources, with recent focus on permanent sources including a surface source using orbital vibrator technology, and the piezo-tube, a tubing-deployed seismic source. Permanent sources allow continuous active-source seismic monitoring during fluid injection/withdrawal. Other development includes multisource arrays and a small-diameter high-frequency orbital-vibrator shear source for crosswell and single-well seismic imaging applications.

Furthermore, Department scientists have developed electromagnetic (EM) instrumentation including crosswell EM tools for reservoir imaging/monitoring, and a multi-sensor electromagnetic system (BUD, Berkeley UXO Discriminator) that quickly determines the location, size, shape, and metal content of buried unexploded ordnance (UXO) and more importantly differentiates explosive from harmless metal.

Innovations within the Department’s core capabilities has led to R&D 100 Awards for the Berkeley UXO Discriminator (2007) and more recently the Continuous Active-Source Seismic Monitoring (CASSM) in 2015.