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Book Chapter

Gravity and Magnetics in Oil Exploration: A Historical Perspective

Richard I. Gibson
Richard I. Gibson
Gibson Consulting
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January 01, 1998


The first U.S. oil discovery using any geophysical method came in 1924 at Nash Dome, Texas, as a result of a survey with the Eötvös torsion balance. This gravity-measuring device was invented in 1888, and first was used for hydrocarbon exploration in Czechoslovakia in 1915 16. It was very slow to operate and was sensitive to near-surface irregularities, and these problems provided the impetus for developing a sensitive pendulum apparatus.

Wyckoff and Eckhardt tested a practical pendulum instrument in Kansas and Oklahoma in 1925 26. After joining Gulf in 1928, they refined and developed the tool and it was field-tested in Michigan in April 1930. Gulf and other companies tried other pendulum methods, but by July 1932 the Gulf (Wyckoff) pendulum was in regular operation. Cleveland Oil Field (Texas) was found by Gulf with this pendulum; Conroe Dome, which was invisible in torsion-balance data, also was defined. The pendulum was a great improvement, but still did not have the sensitivity and speed of operation required for efficient exploration. At their peak, pendulum crews could observe a maximum of about 250 stations per month. The next step was the gravimeter.

Apparently, Humble Oil tested the first gravity meter in the United States, in 1930, but never placed it in regular use. Gulf developed a gravimeter in 1932 35 which began routine operation in May 1935. This instrument was the first practical field gravimeter, with an accuracy of better than 0.1 milligal, and it was very fast to operate. The Gulf (Hoyt) gravimeter received general

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Society of Exploration Geophysicists Geophysical References Series

Geologic Applications of Gravity and Magnetics: Case Histories

Richard I. Gibson
Richard I. Gibson
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Patrick S. Millegan
Patrick S. Millegan
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1998




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