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The role of seismic data in hydrocarbon exploration is risk reduction: It seeks to avoid dry holes, marginal producers, and getting reserves seriously wrong. Early surveys relied exclusively on explosives as an energy source, but this has obvious safety and environmental issues. Just as limiting is the fact that explosive sources give us very little control over the emitted waveform; basically, our only “knob” to turn for higher or lower frequency is the charge size. Geophysics has some very interesting 1950s papers in which empirical equations were found relating charge size and depth to dimensions of the resulting blast hole. It must have been a wild ride for the researchers, since charges up to 1 million lb were tested.
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