№ 12 (December 2006)
Scorpion Makes its Debut
The area of land seismic recording systems remains « white hot», continuing the reversal of fortunes that characterized this space during the past decade.
The latest entrant - Scorpion - made its debut on the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) conference in New Orleans last October. Scorpion is the most recent addition to the portfolio of I/O recording systems, joining its cableless sibling - FireFly - that was introduced at the 2005 SEG meeting.
Since then, we've seen new land recording entries from Sercel (SN428), Vibtech (Unite), Ascend Geo (Ultra), and I/O (both Scorpion and FireFly). Sercel remains the market share leader, but the battle lines are being drawn as incumbent and new competitors seek to capture a chunk of this once-again expanding market. The objectives are clear - deliver reliable, efficient, safety and environment-friendly as well as easy-to-maintain systems that support flexible, high station-count acquisition. However, each equipment provider seeks to deliver on these objectives in a different way and, in the case of I/O, to deliver them in multiple ways through a portfolio of cable-based and cableless systems.
Scorpion builds off the System Four platform that has been in the market since 2002. In keeping with I/O's focus on full-wave imaging, Scorpion supports multicomponent acquisition with digital, 3-C VectorSeis MEMS-based receivers as well as recording with analog geophone receivers. Scorpion is also built around the easy-to-navigate user interface and operating system upgrade released in July with System Four.
There have been, however, some significant changes to the architecture of the system that aim to improve overall recording productivity, system reliability and channel count scalability. Key enhancements were made to the central recording system. The PC-based central electronics were simplified.
For instance, the chassis uses fewer cables, and off-the-shelf, 64-bit motherboards, multi-core processors and network and memory cards replace costly, long lead-time, custom-built components. As a result of these and other changes, the central's footprint is smaller, 60 percent lighter, more rugged and better able to withstand overheating.
The telemetry system has been upgraded to incorporate the latest transmission and switching technologies. Scorpion employs four Ethernet, 1-gigabit backbones that enable the platform to handle extremely high station-count surveys, high sampling rates and complex Vibroseis sweep schemes. The ground electronics for the analog version of Scorpion have also been reworked to incorporate simplified, off-the-shelf chip sets that are inherently more reliable.
In addition, the System Four operating system software has been recompiled in Linux. While improving overall system stability and uptime, this change also opens up a broader set of development and debugging tools that will be able to continuously enhance system functionality and performance as subsequent software updates are released. More importantly, Scorpion is backward compatible with the analog and digital ground electronics of the predecessor System Four platform.
« Scorpion represents a step-change improvement in our cable-based offering. The enhancements we have made target the key operational objectives of our contractor customers,» said Ralph Muse, vice president of I/O's Land Imaging Systems Division. « We have incorporated their feedback throughout the design and field testing process. The result is an acquisition platform that can take its place beside other innovative land systems that I/O has introduced to the seismic sector throughout our history.»
I/O has recently won several big systems deals for System Four and has apparently already signed up several customers for Scorpion. The launch customer, announced at the SEG conference, is Paragon Geophysical. Paragon has been a long-time I/O customer and, last year, began acquiring multicomponent data with a VectorSeis version of System Four.
« We have a lot of experience with I/O land systems. With System Four, we've been able to capture some significant advantages in the areas in which we operate. Nonetheless, we were delighted when I/O asked us to provide input into the design of the system, which was to become Scorpion. The changes that have been made will make the system even more efficient and reliable and allow Paragon to continue acquiring economical, high-quality data for our customers,» said John Beury III, owner and president of Paragon.
I/O has also been hard at work on some of the « softer» elements of the Scorpion offering. As relayed by Muse, « I/O has taken a number of actions to improve our customer's overall ownership experience with our products. We have redesigned our training programs for both our customers and our internal field support personnel so they will be fully up-to-speed in how to most effectively operate, troubleshoot and maintain Scorpion. We're also assigning a customer advocate to every system that is sold to improve our responsiveness to questions from the field. And we're expanding our global network of spare parts and service and repair facilities to enhance the uptime of our customers' operations.»
I/O does indeed appear to be back in the land imaging game. In tandem with FireFly, Scorpion provides I/O with a land recording portfolio with which to be reckoned.