Have you ever wondered how we find offshore oil fields? If you have, you’re about to get schooled on the art of something called Seismic Blasting.
Seismic blasting is the act of blasting the sea floor with thousands of high-decibel explosive impulses. This helps us actually map the seafloor, and find prime places to drill.
These airguns can blast sounds up to 200 to 240 decibels. To compare, a jet engine takes off at 140 decibels. In fact, a study was just done and scientists estimated it would take 240 decibels to make a human head literally explode.
Despite these measurements, if we were to blast the airgun above water, they would only be able to get up to about 140-180 decibels. It’s still pretty sizeable, though.
They’re so powerful that they can map geological structures up to 40 kilometers below the seafloor. This is possible with incredibly sophisticated acoustic processing, multiple guns firing at the same time, and a ton of hydrophones listening for echoes.
Normally when mapping the seafloor, groups use 10-20 guns at a time, each firing five to six compressed air bubble shots per minute. That’s 300 per hour, and 7,000 every 24 hours.
Want another crazy air gun fact? Scientists have reported hearing air gun blasts from South Africa in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Whoever created these things is incredible.
So if you didn’t know about air guns before, now you know.