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The technology we used, called “reflection seismology,” is the sort of technology that oil companies use to search for oil reservoirs. Basically, we send seismic waves into the earth and the waves bounce off the contrasts between different rocks in the subsurface. We record these reflections with seismometers and turn them into an image, allowing us to see into the earth and study the subsurface. This can be done on land or at sea.
Here’s how we did it at sea: first we unrolled a 5-mile long “streamer” off the largest spools known to mankind and strung it out straight behind the ship. The streamer looks like a fire hose but is actually a string of seismometers spaced every couple of feet. We attached an orange “bird” to the streamer every so often that keeps the streamer at a constant depth below the water. The bird tips its wings if it gets too deep or too shallow and "flies" back to the correct depth. You can see a picture of Jackie carrying a bird over to be deployed and a bird going out on the streamer behind the boat below:
Next we deployed our seismic source, the “airguns." Each of the 36 “guns” holds 2000 psi of compressed air. To “fire,” it simply releases that air into the water. The bubble of air collapses instantly under the pressure of the water and makes a loud boom when it does. That boom generates seismic waves that propagate down through the water and into the earth, bounce off rock layers, folds, and faults, and make their way back to the streamer where we record it. Then we process this data and turn it into images.
Originally posted by JohnVidale
reply to post by TrueAmerican
That's onboard the ship.