Seismic Testing in Stow a Hunt For Natural Gas Reserves
'Mysterious' cables and equipment along Norton Road in Stow are part of 500-mile underground mapping process in Ohio.
The odd-looking cables seen snaking alongside Seasons/Norton Road this past week represent just 3.5-miles of a 500-mile exploration mission for natural gas reserves under way in Ohio through at least October.
Mike Martin, project manager for Nicholson Land Services of Tyler, TX, said the cables and related equipment in Stow are part of a seismic testing process that “basically provides us with a road map of the subsurface.”
The testing, Martin said, “is funded by a company that stores this information in a central library. This information is proprietary and is turned over to the funding company at the completion of the testing process.”
Nicholson is the firm responsible for securing permits needed to set up the “Ohio 2D Project.” The 10-year-old company provides permitting, land and seismic quality control services to the oil and gas industry.
The testing itself is being conducted by Tidelands Geophysical Co. of Plano, TX, a "seismic acquisition company that has provided clients with high-quality seismic data since 1967," according to its website.
Martin said the Ohio testing locations were chosen “by geophysicists and we are not privy to that information.” Testing in Stow could be complete as early as today.
Martin said there are several stages to the seismic testing process, starting with getting permits from all entities involved. Next, surveyors create and mark the test route with pin flags, followed by another crew laying miles of fiber-optic cable along the route.
The fiber-optic cables, Martin said, “are completely harmless as they carry no electricity and can be driven or walked over with no damage. (Their purpose is) to relay reflections of vibrations to a central location where they are recorded.”
Also placed at various intervals are Geophones. “Geophones actually pick up the reflections of … vibrations and transmit them through the cables to a central recording station,” Martin explained.
The machines seen along the road are called vibroseis machines, which travel in groups of three or four.
“At pre-selected intervals the vibroseis machines lower a neoprene-covered plate to the ground and vibrate these plates for about five seconds. This is repeated several times and, at the completion of the test, the machines move to the next point,” Martin said.
The cable and pin flags are typically picked up the day after an area is tested.
The term 2D reflected in the project name refers to the type of seismic activity. “2D means there is only a single line of activity through an area as opposed to a 3D, which is more involved and usually consists of several square miles,” Martin said.
Stow Service Director Mike Miller said the seismic testing method is nondestructive and noninvasive.