The international Society of Exploration Geophysicists will present its prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego during the society's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, September 23-28, 2007.
The award recognizes Scripps' role in developing technology and instruments for mapping the earth's crust underneath the oceans for the purpose of offshore petroleum exploration. The method uses electromagnetic fields to image various geological features beneath the seafloor, according to geophysicist Steven Constable, professor and leader of the Scripps research team. Scripps pioneered and developed the use of marine electromagnetism to study seafloor geology, and recently the oil industry has adopted this technique for the direct detection of hydrocarbons.
The oil industry principally relies on seismic instruments that use sound reflection to identify oil deposits beneath the seafloor, but these techniques are not always reliable. Electromagnetic methods provide a "second opinion," according to Constable.
"Although these electromagnetic techniques will probably never be used by industry as widely as seismic methods, it is clear that they have become an important part of oil exploration," said Constable. "The support of the oil companies in developing the technology and instruments also provides the means for a wide range of other scientific investigations of the seafloor."
The award also recognizes contributions to the electromagnetic technique made by oil companies ExxonMobil and Statoil, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and the University of Southampton.
The Society of Exploration Geophysicists promotes the science of geophysics and the education of applied geophysicists. Founded in 1930, the organization has more than 25,000 members in 129 countries.