Advanced Data Processing Software to Improve Local Seismic Monitoring Capabilities
Successful nuclear test-ban treaty monitoring requires advanced data processing to detect, locate and accurately characterize seismic signals as explosions or earthquakes. In recent years the ability to monitor small events that may be seen only at local distances has become increasingly important. Weston Geophysical Corp. proposes to develop and test a software system that could be paired with currently available or newly developed sensor instrumentation to perform accurate and complete characterization of low-magnitude events observed on local networks. Over the last fifteen years Weston has developed many data processing techniques that have been shown to improve regional seismic monitoring capabilities for the Air Force Technical Applications Center. The proposed project would result in a similar analysis capability at local distances. We have also identified an emerging commercial market sector in the energy production industry that could strongly benefit from advances in treaty monitoring technology. Oil and gas production from shale formations using hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking techniques has grown rapidly since 2008 and now represents a vital and growing domestic energy resource. The waste products from hydrofracking are typically injected into deep underground disposal wells to avoid discharge into streams and other sensitive drinking water supplies. Both production and waste disposal processes have recently been implicated in the United States and Canada as the source of induced seismicity, or man-made earthquakes. Energy production companies and various regulatory agencies are eager to prevent these man-made seismic hazards, since they can lead to costly operational disruptions and public concern. Detailed data analysis is required to detect, locate, characterize, and properly attribute sources of local seismic energy to either natural or human causes. Our software system would be immediately applicable to the seismic monitoring of induced seismicity, since our technology platform comprises a comprehensive toolkit of highly advanced seismic data processing techniques that allows us to achieve more sensitive and accurate results using fewer observing stations. During a Phase I project we would develop and test a prototype of the software system. Some of the data analysis routines (such as detection and location) have already been fully adapted to the local monitoring scale, but others (e.g. network design and source characterization) still require testing and calibration at local distances. If we are able to secure Phase II funding we would package the various techniques together in a JAVA-based platform that would interface with most commonly used data acquisition systems. A Phase II project would also give Weston an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of our software system through a test field deployment. To accomplish this Weston would leverage existing company instrumentation and partner with an energy production company to deploy a small network of seismometers near a disposal well or other production activity. A demonstration of this type could also be designed to be directly relevant to the treaty monitoring application.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Weston Geophysical Corp.
181 Bedford St., Suite 1 Lexington, MA 02420-4430
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