Minimizing Impacts of Seismic Studies

Technologies and practices that can minimize the environmental impacts of seismic studies.

Hand Clearing of Vegetation

Seismic studies require running long cables across the terrain to connect the sound receptors to the main processing units in a truck. It often becomes necessary to clear a corridor of vegetation to allow access for the lines. Bulldozers can be used for relatively open areas. However, while running lines in some heavily wooded areas, field teams can hand-cut trees and bushes to clear access ways for seismic lines rather than bulldozing. This is somewhat more labor-intensive, but it creates less environmental impact.

Refilling and Restoring Shot Holes

Operators drill a series of shallow holes where explosives are detonated. After the detonations are completed, companies remove the cables and sound receptors, then must refill the shot holes and restore any disturbed soil and vegetation around the shot hole location.

Selection and Restoration of Field Operations Sites

When conducting a seismic study, contractors typically establish a central field operation site where one or more large trucks and trailers are parked. The trucks or trailers hold the computer processing equipment to analyze the seismic signals. The cables and lines connecting the shot holes and sound receptors are tied back to the central field operations sites. Sites should be selected so they are not located close to streams, residences, water wells, cave openings, or other sensitive environmental or geographic features. When the seismic study has been completed, the company should restore and revegetate the site where the trucks and trailers had been located.

Temporal and Spatial Offsets for Threatened and Endangered Species

Additional protection for threatened and endangered species can be provided by planning and conducting seismic studies such that field activities bypass or detour around identified nesting or breeding locations or locations of populations of threatened or endangered species. Likewise, seismic studies can be postponed to avoid certain times of the year, when threatened and endangered species are mating, nesting, or rearing young. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed voluntary best management practices for protecting threatened and sensitive species. These are described on the seismic studies regulatory requirements page.

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Minimizing Environmental Impacts

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