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Case study

Seismic operations in the transition zone

Client: Maritime Robotics

June 24, 2021

When seismic operations move into very shallow waters, accurately positioning seismic nodes or ocean bottom cables (OBC) on the seafloor can pose a challenge.

The challenge

The transition zone environment is often highly reverberant, the vessels used are often noisy and they can be a considerable distance from the acoustic transponders used to position the nodes. What’s more, shallow water makes nodes especially prone to movement, adding a further complication to proceedings.

Repeated node positioning operations conducted from vessels are costly and time consuming. Noisy environments can inhibit the quality of information and manned vessels are a costly option for completing work that can be done remotely.

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TZ Transceiver



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The solution

To solve these issues, Sonardyne has created our TZ Transceiver. It’s very compact and simple to operate. Ideally suited to installation on manned workboats and USVs, it’s already being used for conducting acoustic positioning operations with seismic nodes deployed in the transition zone.

The TZ Transceiver works by collecting hundreds of acoustic ranges from transponders such as our TZ/OBC, TZ Transponder and Small Seismic Transponder 6. These are often attached either directly to the seismic node or to a deployment rope nearby. The ranges are merged with the vessel or USV’s GNSS data so that an accurate position of each node can be calculated.

Mounting our TZ Transceiver onto a USV is ideal because it can follow the mother vessel autonomously and position the nodes as they are being deployed. Alternatively, it can be tasked to perform a position verification check to ensure the nodes have not moved.

The results

Fitting a TZ Transceiver to a USV such as the installation on Maritime Robotics’  Mariner USV is a very cost-effective force multiplier. The addition of the transceiver eliminates the need for a manned vessel to conduct the same routine operations.

Weighing in at 1,900 kg, Mariner is 6 m-long, 2 m-wide. It includes a moon-pool and an elevator mechanism for sinking and lowering sensors, such as our TZ Transceiver.

The vehicle is designed for both offshore and coastal applications and can be deployed and operated from a larger manned vessel or even over the horizon from a shoreside office. This increases the productivity of the existing survey crew as well as the overall profitability of seismic operations.


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