Students see seismic test up close

NORTH JACKSON – Vibrations triggered by the large Tidelands Geophysical Co. seismic truck seemed faint to the high school students gathered nearby, but sensitive and high-tech equipment that had been flown in by helicopter had no problem picking them up.

The seismic testing demonstration conducted by a Halcon Resources geophysicist outside Jackson-Milton High School Wednesday morning was met with enthusiasm from the 150 or so science students who gathered outside to learn one of the methods used by natural gas and oil drilling companies to find pools of hydrocarbons often trapped miles below the earth’s surface.

“We felt the vibrations. It was faint, but you could definitely feel it,” said Jackson-Milton student Tibius Kegley, 17, of North Jackson. Kegley, a senior, said before Wednesday’s demonstration he already had been planning to pursue a career in engineering, but now he said he just might consider something closer to the petroleum engineering field.

“Last year I took chemistry, so I kind of knew what it was, but I didn’t know anything about the geophones or the vibration trucks,” Kegley said. “It was pretty interesting.”

Senior geophysicist John Tinnin of Houston-based Halcon Resources spent about an hour at the high school Wednesday morning demonstrating seismic testing, the procedure that sends shock waves into the ground. They are measured by geophones, the precision devices that measure ground movement determining with much accuracy what is below the earth’s surface before any attempt at very expensive test wells are drilled.

Kegley’s teacher, Stephen Mohr, invited Tinnin to the school because he said he knows the importance of showing his physics and chemistry students what opportunities exist for them beyond high school.

“I had a couple students that were looking into the field,” Mohr said. “I know a lot of these companies are having to hire from outside the area because we don’t have the engineers in the area, so I thought this might get them interested.

“I wanted to show them there’s a reason why we are learning all these hard sciences,” said Mohr, who is in his 13th year of teaching. He said this is his fourth year teaching higher sciences at Jackson-Milton Local Schools.

Halcon Resources spokesman Vince Bevacqua described the seismic testing process as a “very important, science-driven aspect of shale oil and gas recovery.”