We exploit the differences that exist between the radiation fields of a point source and an array to design a time-separated marine seismic source array with desired power spectral and directional characteristics, whose far-field time signature is known precisely from measurements.The desired power spectral characteristics are created by firing a predetermined series of point source units sequentially, such that their time signatures do not overlap. The effective power spectrum of the whole series of time-distributed signatures can be made to approximate the sum of the power spectra of the individual signatures and can, therefore, be designed to suit the desired application by the appropriate choice of source units. The desired directional characteristics of the array can be created by arranging the source unit separations such that each source unit reaches the desired spatial position at the prescribed firing instant.The key to the subsequent processing of the recorded data is to measure the pressure wave generated by each point source unit with a hydrophone placed close by, but in the linear radiation field. The position of this hydrophone relative to the source unit must be known accurately in all three dimensions. The depths of the source units and their relative spatial positions at the instants of firing must also all be known. From these measurements the far-field signature of the sequence in any azimuth can be deduced, and the impulse response of the earth can be recovered by dividing the Fourier frequency spectrum of the recorded reflection data by that of the measured source unit sequence.This process is completely deterministic in nature and depends primarily upon our ability to monitor accurately the far-field signature of each source unit. Field results from an initial evaluation of this method indicate that this measurement can be readily accomplished. The success of this technique is then ultimately dependent on the signal to noise ratio. [This method is the subject of a patent application.]We stress that, since the signature is known, we are not obliged to make any assumptions about the phase. In particular, we do not need to make the minimum-phase assumption. We are therefore free to choose our parameters to optimize our desired power spectral and directional characteristics with complete disregard for the conventional requirement that the signature of an air gun source have a high primary-to-bubble ratio.

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