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Idaho Begins Seismic Testing for Natural Gas

The natural gas industry in Western Idaho is looking for large pockets of natural gas underground. it’s using a process is called seismic testing. It helps companies like Snake River Oil and Gas know exactly where to start drilling.

Rod McLeod is with Gulf Coast Permits and is helping analyze 50 square miles near the town of New Plymouth. He explains how 32-thousand pound trucks help determine if there is gas hundreds of feet underground.

“They put their pad down on the ground and it shakes and causes waves to go down through the earth," he says.  "And then they reverberate through the substructure and come back up and the noise is picked up by the geophones on a separate line.”

Geophones are small devices with wires attached that are strung across the ground. They measure the seismic motion as noise and send that information to a computer. The computer will generate a 3-D picture for scientists. Standing 50 feet from the trucks, it sounds like this.

This is the first time that 3-D mapping has been done in Idaho. Without this technology, workers would drill a hole and set off dynamite to shake the ground.

The industry used this opportunity to show lawmakers the process. David Hawk, a contractor with Snake River Oil and Gas was on the tour. He told lawmakers what they were seeing from a bus. Afterward, he said lawmakers appeared confident in the regulations they approved.

“I believe that they feel they made the right decisions at that time and I do think they still do think they made the right decisions," Hawk says.

The 3-D maps should be done by December. Snake River Oil and Gas President Richard Brown says he hopes to start drilling for gas by next summer.

Copyright EarthFix 2012