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ELDER BOB’S DESERT WAVES PHOTOS - PAGE 3 OF 3


SEISMIC EXPLORATION IN SAUDI ARABIA


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spacer Needless to say, after the shots went off, there was a large crater left in their spot. The craters located on the Subkahs in the Sand Mountains area usually had water in the bottom of them. Occasionally we would set off a weathering charge near the recording truck. It consisted of a 50-pound bag of ammonia nitrate sitting on the ground. We used a special cable and geophones for it. We used the weathering shots to tell us the depth of the sand and weathering layer. This allowed us to make static corrections to compensate for the topography. After the shot was recorded, we would get a photographic paper playout of the seismic record. It consisted of 24 wiggle lines on it that showed the various layers. However, we were only concerned with the first negative wave on each trace for use in mapping the refractor or geological formation. If I were out on the line with the observer, I would check the records in the field. Otherwise I would check them back in camp that night after they had been hung out to dry.

At night is when I did most of my work. I would put labels on the records and fill out the information that identified them. I would "pick" the first breaks (first energy) on each trace or geophone station on each record. I could make a time/distance graph to compute the velocity of the refractor to insure we were still on the correct geological formation. If not, then I might have to have them shoot a propagation profile the next day to find the correct offset. It was just a layout starting at zero offset and going out to about 50,000 feet. Then using the time/distance calculations, I could find the correct offset. I would also go over the survey notes to check for errors. I would also fill out any reports required. Then maybe I would go out and watch a movie on the side of the office trailer or join in a card game in the dining trailer. The next morning I would get on the radio to Dhahran and let my party chief know the results of the previous day. If it had rained the previous day or the wind had been too fast, then the day was spent reading or driving around the desert. The results of our work would be interpreted by senior geophysicist and coordinated with geologist after being processed on a Texas Instrument 9000 Digital Computer. It used 21 track magnetic tapes that were one inch wide instead of the standard 9 track tapes that were one half inch wide. The input for the software on the computer was a punched mylar tape. It had no plotter. The sections were created using photographic paper or film records taped together to form a cross section of the earth under the seismic line. In refraction work, we would compute the time to the geological formation using what was called the "ABC" method and plot the times on graph paper with time versus distance plots. Later we would use the Gardner Method to correct for migration and plot the formations in their correct location. This gave us a cross section of the formation so we could identify any large anticline or dome. The oil would be trapped in the top of the dome.

The final result of our work was the location of an oil well. The one pictured here was near the Bir Hadi area and out in the middle of the Empty Quarter. Their camp was similar to ours and had the same type of trailers. Most of the drillers were Canadian or American. Around Dhahran, ARAMCO had trouble drilling water wells. They kept hitting oil. At the time I was there, they said that no producing oil well had been found using geophysical methods, but only by using geological methods. There was always a friendly rivalry between the geologist and geophysicist. A geophysicist was sometimes called a doodlebugger. This goes back to when geophysicist first went out with their electronic equipment and the locals thought they were looking for water using Rube Goldberg type of equipment. The story about the first oil discovery in Saudi was that some geologist were sitting outside the Gulf Hotel on the island of Bahrain. They looked across the Arabian Gulf and saw the Damman Dome near the coast of Saudi Arabia. One said that looks like a good place to drill for oil. From there the rest is history.

The rest of the photos on this page are just various scenes around the desert where I worked. Bir Hadi was a famous old water well known by the Bedouins. We had to make sure none of our shots were near the well. The government was afraid we might affect the water table. As you can see, many camels had used the well because of all the camel droppings around it. The gazelle is one we saw running during a camp move. Some of the workers chased it in a truck and jumped out to catch it. We took some photos of it and let it go. They use to hunt them using cars with machine guns on them. At one time they were becoming extinct, but the government put a stop to the hunting. This one was expecting a baby. As I said earlier, I would drive around looking for Bedouins in the area. I would always have extra water and oranges with me to give to the Bedouins. They in turn would offer me a gift of camel's milk, a rabbit their dog had caught, their dog or some other item. Usually I would stop their offerings and just ask if I could take some photos. They were usually satisfied with that, but at times they insisted I have some camel's milk straight from the source. I did not like it, but I could not refuse it because I would have insulted them if I did so. We did see a lot of camels out there and at times a camel herd could cause problems with our recordings. It was an interesting two years and I will always remember it with fondness.



spacer Shot crater in subkah.
Shot crater in subkah with salt water in bottom.
spacer Weathering shot.
A fifty pound sack of amonia nitrate was set off next to the dog house ever so often to record the depth of the weathering layer which usually was the loose sand.
spacer Elder Bob checking seismic record.
I would check the photographic paper record after a shot to verify it was alright. If not, then we did the shot over using a surface charge.
spacer Elder Bob working with records.
At the end of the day, the photographic paper records were hung up to dry. Then I would put labels on them and do various computations to verify everything was alright.
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spacer Computer used to process records.
This computer was used to process the refraction records on tape. About the only thing that could be done was to correct for the offsets of the geophones and output a seismic section of the first breaks.
spacer Sample of a seismic section.
This is a seismic section of reflection data. The refraction section would look similar except for the deeper data.
spacer Aerial view of oil well.
Aerial view of oil well in the Bir Hadi Area.
spacer Ground view of oil well.
Ground view of oil well in Bir Hadi Area. This is the final results of the work I was doing in Saudi Arabia.
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spacer Approaching Bir Hadi Well.
Approaching Bir Hadi water well. Famous well used by the Bedouins traveling through the Rub Al Khali.
spacer Bir Hadi water well.
Fellow geophysicist (Max Watts from UK) looking at Bir Hadi Well. Those are not stones on ground, but camel scat.
spacer Elder Bob and gazelle.
Elder Bob and gazelle that the workers caught. As you can see, she is expecting. We let her go after the photo was taken.
spacer Close up of gazelle.
Close up of the gazelles head. After we let her go, she just walked away.
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spacer Prayer time.
Bedouins passing through that stopped to pray.
spacer Bedouins praying.
Bedouins praying. Moslems are suppose to pray five times a day and should face Mecca when praying. If possible, they wash before praying and use a prayer rug.
spacer Tea time.
They like to drink tea a lot. Their tea is very sweet with lots of sugar in it. It is not sun tea, but is brewed. They usually drink from small clear glass cups. Arabian coffee is very light in color and has cardamon in it. It is not like Turkish coffee.
spacer Bedouins on sand dune.
These two Bedouins were passing by and sitting on top of a sand dune looking for animals. Note the rifle in a leather case to protect it from sand.
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spacer Sand panorama.
Sand panorama on the seismic line. Survey stakes marking location of shotpoint in foreground.
spacer Elder Bob and camels.
Elder Bob with fellow American (John Lane) and Bedouin. Those are the Bedouin camels behind us. He is holding an orange I just gave him in one hand and his rifle in the other hand.
spacer Camel.
Camel that was part of a Bedouin camel herd. Anytime I gave water and oranges to the Bedouins, they usually would offer me some camel's milk.
spacer Saudi soldier on patrol.
Saudi soldier on patrol. We were near the Southern border of Saudi Arabia and saw soldiers like this patroling the border area.
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spacer Camel herder.
Bedouin camel herder with rifle.
spacer Bedouin loving his camel
Bedouin camel herder giving his camel attention.
spacer Bedouin boy.
Bedouin boy from family passing by our camp.
spacer Bedouin women.
Bedouin women from family passing by our camp.
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