The adventure begins when you climb aboard an all-terrain
vehicle, boat or helicopter to get to places where few, if any,
have gone before. Seismic Operators are modern-day explorers, using
their technical and physical skills to find just the right spot to
drill. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, you will
find the potential drill sites that geologists have identified. You
will then determinethe presence and extent of oil and gas deposits
using seismic equipment.
Oil and gas exploration uses seismic technology to create
vibrations beneath the earth's surface. Dynamite charges or
vibrating equipment generate shock waves, which bounce off
underground structures and are picked up by sensors and digital
recorders. Recordings are then sent to geological professionals for
analysis to determine the extent of the oil and gas deposits.
Seismic work is also performed at sea, using boats and air guns to
generate seismic shockwaves that are monitored by hydro recording
What do Seismic Operators do?
Seismic Operators are responsible for four key phases of seismic
- Surveying: Operators
use GPS and conventional survey equipment to create maps and design
the routes where the seismic survey will take place.
- Line Clearing:
Operators clear trails in the bush using chainsaws, "cats" and
- Seismic Drilling:
Operators drill holes using truck-mounted, track or heli-portable
drills at prescribed locations. They place charges that will be
detonated to create seismic waves underground.
- Data Acquisition and
Recording: Operators create shock waves by using
explosives or vibrating equipment. They record characteristics of
the underground rock structures from the recordings obtained from
The Seismic Operator occupation is made up of many specialized
jobs, including the following:
- Chainer: Measures,
maps and finds drilling locations.
- GPS Surveyor/Rover:
Collects and processes survey readings.
- Utilities Locator:
Locates all buried utilities.
Bucker/Faller: Clears survey lines as per GPS
- Seismic Driller:
Drills holes and places explosive charges.
Prepares equipment and detonates explosives.
- Seismic Observer:
Digitally records all seismic readings.
- Field Equipment
Coordinator: Coordinates movement of vehicles and
Repairs all seismic equipment.
- Vibrating Equipment
Operator: Operates vibrating equipment that generates
How do I become a Seismic Operator?
Employers prefer you to have a high school diploma coupled with
related entry-level experience as a Surveyor's or Driller's Helper.
You must also have clean drug and alcohol test results and a valid
driver'slicense. Employers seek people in good physical condition
with strong work ethics and willingness to learn. Once hired, the
employer will provide you with safety and on-job training.
What are the working conditions like?
Work is mostly performed outdoors in remote locations. You may
be exposed to extreme weather, dirt, dust, mud, noise and fumes.
You will have to stay at hotels, motels or camps. Heavy lifting of
items up to 20 kilograms is often required. You will need to always
pay attention to what is going on around you. Following safety
protocols is essential, as exposure to hazardous conditions is
possible. Seismic crews typically work 12 to 14 hours per day on
rotation. Work is seasonal and overtime is common.
Do I fit the bill?
Do you think you have what it takes to become a Seismic
- I have mechanical ability and
understand technical instructions.
- I am willing to ask questions and
learn on the go.
- I am a good problem solver and think
quickly on my feet.
- I am not easily
- I can follow safety rules and
precautions, and understand their importance when dealing with
potentially hazardous material and equipment.
- I can handle hard physical
- I can work rotational shifts and long
hours, and do not mind changes in routine.
- I can handle considerable travel to
and from work locations.
- I can work and live in isolated
regions for extended periods of time.
- I have the tolerance, stamina and
flexibility to work outdoors in any weather conditions.
- I believe in teamwork and understand
that other people will be relying on me.
- I believe that I have what it takes
to be an excellent Seismic Operator!
Quick tips and next steps!
- Check out the Canadian Association of
Geophysical Contractorswebsite at www.cagc.ca for brochures, videos and
photosdescribing this fascinating work. The site also includes
membercompanies that you can research as potential
- Learn about seismic technology by
reading articles and internet based information at www.geomore.com.
- Look for summer jobs with seismic
companies and get someexperience as a Surveyor's or Driller's
- Sign up at www.cagc.ca to participate in Seismic
in Motion,an annual event held in October, that involves a field
trip withexperts in the industry.
- Check with employment centres,
educational institutions,newspapers, petroleum-related magazines
and the internetfor information on industry career
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