Researchers develop advanced geophysical surveying method

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have modernised prospecting with technology that scans the earth for signs of natural resources such as oil and gas.

Combining a number of surveying techniques for the first time, Prof Lev Eppelbaum and Dr Youri Katz are said to have carried out a more accurate and in-depth land survey of Israel and the surrounding Mediterranean area than ever before. Their findings pinpoint the most likely places to find reservoirs of natural gas and oil.

Fifteen years in the making, their technique, which recently appeared in the journal Positioning, can reportedly be applied to any region in the world before the costs of drilling or mining are incurred.

To create detailed structural-tectonic maps of Israel and the surrounding areas, Prof Eppelbaum and Dr Katz carried out an integrated survey using a variety of geophysical tools, including advanced analysis of magnetic, gravitational and temperature fields; utilisation of seismic, magnetotelluric and satellite imaging; and numerous well sections and outcropping studies. All of these results were integrated with plate-tectonics reconstructions.

The researchers said that possibly the most valuable results of their study are a series of prospective maps, which identify specific areas where geological-geophysical teams are most likely to be successful in the search for natural gas and oil.

Just off the shore of Haifa, a northern city along Israel’s coastline, there is believed to be a 500-billion-cubic-metre area of gas reserve, Eppelbaum said.

The survey indicated that a few tens of kilometres away, there may be another reserve that would significantly increase the current estimated amount of gas, he noted.

His predictions for additional oil reserves in deep-water zones increase the estimated total of gas reserves by 200–300 per cent.

‘Israel could have a future as a gas country — one that can produce oil and gas and sell it to the rest of the world,’ said Eppelbaum.