Andy Ayer’s eyes light up when describing how he teaches high school students the science behind seismic imaging – a sophisticated technology that uses sound waves to create pictures of the subsurface to help locate oil and natural gas formations.
Ayer, a seismic operations technologist at Chevron Canada in Calgary, asked students participating in the Science in Motion program if they knew how a bat finds a moth in the dark.
CBU Seismic Processing Team Lead Richard Gray holds a geophone as he and Geophysicist-in-Training Kayla Hicks look at geophone locations on a map. Gray and Hicks volunteered at the Seismic in Motion event to help promote the field to students and other professionals.
“When they said they did, I explained how 3-D seismic is like thousands of bats making thousands of peeps, and all of their ears transmitting that information to thousands of brains that together combine it into one very tasty moth, which to us is a successful drilling location,” said Ayer. “It’s fun to have them nod and go, ‘Wow, that’s cool.’”
Seismic in Motion Program
Ayer is one of five members of Chevron Canada who participated in the 2014 Seismic in Motion (SIM) program. The annual event, held near Waiparous, Alberta, about 70 km northwest of Calgary, offers a unique opportunity for experts from the seismic and energy industries to give students a first-hand look at the seismic process and potential career opportunities in the industry.
Held in in September, SIM showcases the progressive technology, safety and environmental practices used in the seismic industry. Participants witness helicopters ferrying heavy equipment to remote areas, mulchers cleaning up trees and bushes to make way for seismic activity, and seismic trucks creating vibrations in the ground.
The Calgary Board of Education sent more than 200 students from five schools to participate in the event. The board sees it as a valuable program that gives its students an innovative look at careers in the industry – and one which many students may not have gotten if not for SIM.
Potential Career Opportunities
“It provides a real-world context to support their learning and a wonderful overview of the seismic process,” said CBE Corporate Partnerships Specialist Pauline Auld.
The experience allows students to speak directly with people who work in the industry, opening up possibilities to explore educational paths and careers they might not have considered.
“There’s a whole variety of different career options in the seismic industry, and this opportunity gives kids a good overview,” she said. “The program really allows them to see how to prepare for different careers. The last few years, CBE has really focused on providing more choices.”
But SIM is not just for students. Chevron Canada’s Irma Janzen-Marsh develops plans to guide the health and safety of workers. As part of the Health and Medical team, Janzen-Marsh hasn’t spent time on drilling rigs, platforms or in oil fields but needs to understand how those workers do their jobs.
“This was an opportunity to go see a simulation and see some of the operations our contractors do and that allowed me to relate to the people who do the work,” beamed Janzen-Marsh. “It was a wonderful learning opportunity.”
As a volunteer, Chevron’s Seismic Processing Team Lead, Richard Gray, shared his enthusiasm for exploration with students.
“I’m passionate about seismic and the role it plays in our business, and volunteering at SIM allows me to pass on some of the excitement about my work,” said Gray. “The seismic industry is a small, specialized part of developing our natural resources, but it combines advanced technology with an age-old desire to explore the world.
"If I can pass on that passion to even one person and get them interested in earth science, then SIM is a success.”