19th Feb, 2024

3 features of STRYDE Nodes™ that will accelerate geothermal exploration

Seismic data is viewed as the gold standard for exploring the Earth’s subsurface, however, until recently the acquisition of seismic data has remained largely untapped by the geothermal community.

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Since commercialising STRYDE in 2020, we've conducted over 200 projects across 15 sectors, with a particularly exciting area of growth in geothermal energy. In just three years, we've been involved in 33 geothermal projects, where companies have deployed our unique seismic sensors to de-risk and fast-track the exploration process and monitor seismicity during production.

In this article, STRYDE’s Nick Tranter discusses how seismic is unlocking new opportunities in the geothermal industry, and the three key features of STRYDE Nodes™ which have been pivotal in shining a light on geothermal potential and challenging the common perception that seismic is a costly and laborious endeavour, better suited to oil and gas companies, with bigger budgets.

STRYDE’s Nick Tranter

Seismic acquisition in the geothermal industry has remained largely underused. Can you explain why this is the case?

“One of the biggest reasons for this is the cost of conventional and high-density seismic acquisition. For high-density seismic, which is required for better imaging of the subsurface, it has mostly been leveraged within the oil and gas sector where budgets tend to be more generous. Before recent modern technology developments, seismic acquisition required complex cabled systems or cumbersome nodal devices, large crews and lots of vehicles and logistics. Complexities even just in the planning and pre-surveying phase couldn’t be aligned with the lower budgets you tend to see in geothermal exploration.

“Although seismic can be seen as a high cost upfront, when compared to the cost of drilling a geothermal exploration well, a seismic survey can be 10 to 20 times lower cost. The knowledge gained of the subsurface through seismic before drilling is a lot more favourable, especially when more affordable technologies are used. You really want to be able to optimise the chance of success, not just for the financial return but more importantly, to unlock the best renewable energy sources on our drive to net-zero.

“Our nodal technology has drastically lowered the price point for seismic data acquisition, which is now making it a lot more affordable to new energy sectors, such as geothermal, CCS, mining and hydrogen. This has been a big step change in the market over the last five years.

“Another longstanding incompatibility between seismic acquisition and geothermal exploration is the location where surveys tend to be conducted and the complexities which come with that. Generally speaking, it’s better that the place where geothermal energy is being generated is close to where it's actually being used, therefore a lot of geothermal projects are developed within urban areas to heat and power communities.

“Historically, seismic has typically been acquired in very sparsely populated regions such as agricultural land and deserts. Crews can't just disrupt the day to day life of the communities they operate in, they need to work around the local stakeholders and local population, so traditional cabled systems and big seismic geophones just weren't practical for acquiring in urban areas.”

What are the specific features of STRYDE’s Nodes™ that can de-risk and fast-track geothermal exploration?

1. It’s simplicity and the sensor

“Seismic recording technology has undergone substantial evolution, resulting in smaller, more cost-effective, and simpler-to-deploy devices. Leading this revolution is the STRYDE Node™, currently the most widely used cable-free and fully autonomous recording device in the market today.

“This achievement stems from the incorporation of a piezoelectric accelerometer sensor which has equivalent performance to other sensors such as geophones but at a fraction of the cost, size and weight. The node’s size is comparable to a small hand torch, with each node having everything you need built-in - the seismic sensor, battery, memory, GNSS chip, and control electronics - only weighing 150 grams. The nodes have no cables or connectors and are hassle and maintenance-free.

“This has resulted in STRYDE being able to help companies reduce the overall cost of exploration and subsurface monitoring projects. With land seismic acquisition traditionally requiring hefty outlays on seismic equipment and lots of transportation vehicles, complex apparatus and large teams to transport and deploy equipment, the use of the node has drastically reduced this.

“The technology is proven to cut land seismic survey costs. On one project alone, our client noted a 50% reduction in crew costs when compared to a cabled survey and significant time savings through the removal of technical downtime typically experienced on cabled crews.”

"Another advantage of the STRYDE Node™ being so small and low cost, is that it unlocks the ability to conduct high-density surveys. High trace-density seismic acquisitions have been shown to improve resolution and provide better signal-to-noise ratios, creating a better image of the subsurface. For urban geothermal projects, this means that more nodes can be deployed on the ground to increase inline and cross line sampling. If any nodes do go missing, the surrounding nodes can compensate for that gap in a survey. This is a challenge we’ve seen many times and we can now mitigate against it successfully using our innovative nodal technology.”

2. Cable-free, small and lightweight

“This really goes back to the core ethos of STRYDE, which is making conventional and high-density seismic affordable to any sector. We’ve achieved this not only by having a low cost base for the technology itself, but also making the technology easy and quick to deploy and to operate in the field.

“Our technology has been proven to speed up seismic surveys by accelerating deployment, production and retrieval times. This was recently demonstrated on a recent urban geothermal exploration project we enabled in the Netherlands where 1,500 nodes were deployed in just two days by a three person crew. Of course, efficiencies will vary based on different environments and locations the crew is working in, but this at least presents an idea of what can be achieved in urban surveys.

“The operational speed of how nodes and seismic can be used in both remote and urban environment is very much a step change for the geothermal industry. Rather than conducting a prolonged seismic survey where crews spend weeks deploying cumbersome geophones and large nodes, they can now transport and deploy high-channel counts of nodes at high speed, and on foot to minimise land disruption.

“With most geothermal surveys taking place in urban environments, there's naturally a higher risk of interference by the local population. One key risk here is that nodes can be picked up and looked at by passers by and either placed back down in the wrong position or stolen, risking data integrity issues and loss. “One key benefit of the STRYDE Node™ is that its compact size makes it easy to bury wherever possible, ensuring it is innocuous to locals. Alternatively the basal attachment slot on the STRYDE Node also allows various mounting options that allow data to be recorded on hard surfaces such as concrete or tarmac.”

3. The battery and longevity of the node

“The STRYDE Node™ has a battery life of 28 days with recording 24 hours a day, or up to 45 days when recording for 12 hours per day using calendar mode, which presents a number of subsequent benefits to geothermal companies.

“One key advantage is that this long battery life is ideal for rolling 2D surveys, where you acquire a set of 2D seismic lines, collect the nodes from the field, then redeploy them to acquire another line within the survey layout. With STRYDE’s nodal technology, exploration crews can move the nodes from one location to another without the need to download data and recharge the battery first, so it saves a huge amount of time, cost and minimises the overall impact to the surrounding area.

“Built into the software of the node, we have the calendar mode function which is another huge advantage of STRYDE Nodes™, as it allows the user to program the nodes to turn off and on at set times when deployed. For a lot of geothermal surveys that take place in urban areas, being able to minimise the impact on the local population by only acquiring data at night when the urban environment is at its quietest time is a huge advantage."

Are you looking to shine a light on geothermal potential?

At STRYDE, we’re passionate about bringing affordable seismic solutions to the geothermal industry, enabling companies to pinpoint viable geothermal production locations and monitor wells during operations with cutting-edge land seismic technology and services.

Discover more about how we can help you here.

Learn more about STRYDE

Harness the power of seismic in your next geothermal exploration project with the help of our lightweight and affordable nodal technology…