Oceanscience Hydrographic Survey Z-Boat - Visible from Space!



In a freak coincidence, surveyors from Select Energy Services, San Antonio, TX were surprised to see one of their remotely operated hydrographic survey vehicle’s activities photographed and incorporated onto Google Earth! Water Sourcing Manager Justin Duke was preparing to embark on a hydrographic survey of a water holding pond for a natural gas fracturing operation in Texas when he was very surprised by what he found.  Justin and his team use the Oceanscience (San Diego, CA) remotely-operated Z-Boat 1800 to conduct holding pond volume surveys that are crucial to effectively manage industrial process water inventories.

Prior to leaving for the survey site, the Select Energy Services process calls for the Google Earth map of the pit to be uploaded to the acquisition software to provide a background image for the survey plan and to offer clients a familiar perspective when viewing the final survey product. When the lat/long was inserted and the Google Earth image came into focus, a small yellow dot visible in the middle of the frac pit appeared and seemed to have a wake behind it. On increasing the zoom, Justin was amazed to see his Z-Boat clearly in the satellite image – and he had not even started the survey! The photograph used on Google Earth was taken exactly when Justin was at the pit for the previous time it was surveyed – for about an hour a few months before. After conducting the survey as usual, the bathymetric map image was generated for the client although this time with the added benefit of a freak photographic coincidence included at no extra charge! Using an average age of Google Earth imagery of around three years, the approximate odds of this photograph existing are about 1 in 25,000.

The Z-Boat incorporates a single beam echo sounder, GPS and telemetry system to allow fast bathymetric surveys without any requirement to launch a manned boat onto the water. For these relatively small surveys, the Z-Boat is ideal as several pits can be surveyed in each day with just a single surveyor on the job.

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