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February 6, 2014

Oceanology International Marine Science Exhibition

Photo: Oceanology International

Photo: Oceanology International

Hydrography, geophysics and site investigation lie at the heart of ocean science and technology and therefore are of key importance at Oceanology International, the world's largest exhibition for marine science and technology taking place March 11-13, 2014 at London’s ExCeL, and will be the subject of a full day conference on Thursday, March 13.

Co-chaired by Andy Hill, Marine Geohazard Technical Authority, BP Exploration and Toby Powell, U.K. Geotechnical Team Lead & Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Subsea 7, the Hydrography and Geophysics - Offshore Site Investigations conference looks at three main themes – ‘Best Practices for Offshore Wind Farm Site Investigations’; ‘Data Compilation and Manipulation: GIS and Visualization’; and, by means of a panel discussion, ‘What is the way forward for improvements in Geophysical and Geotechnical Integration?’

“Oceanology International continues to be the global focal point for the offshore geophysical site investigation community,” said Andy Hill. “The Hydrography and Geophysics session on the Thursday will underpin this looking at offshore renewables, new techniques in action, and then moving to the future with a panel and floor discussion aimed at identifying the way forward in geophysical and geotechnical integration.

“I hope that the afternoon session, in particular, will set the technology agenda for industry and academia to pursue over the next two years or more – and I very much look forward to participating in it. We have set up the, somewhat unique, nature of the panel to emphasize that to make progress that geophysical and geotechnical SI, supported by exploration geophysics technology, will need to act as one to move forward.”  Just what he means can be revealed by looking at the full conference program on the Oceanology International website.

His co-chair, Toby Powell, U.K. Geotechnical Team Lead & Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Subsea 7 aded,: “I am very much looking forward to my first opportunity to co-chair a session at Oceanology International. From my experience of the Subsea Umbilicals, Risers and Flowlines (SURF) industry, Oceanology International has traditionally been seen as primarily focusing on marine geosciences and geophysics. However, as these disciplines are strongly linked to geotechnical engineering, the recent broadening of the offshore site investigation conference’s focus is both an exciting and important development.”

Mick Cook of MRC Consultants will deliver the keynote address ‘Guidance Notes for the Planning and Execution of Geophysical and Geotechnical Ground Investigations for Offshore Renewable Energy Developments’ in the opening session of the conference; with David Sinclair of Southern GeoServices looking at ‘Management of UXO Risk in Offshore Wind Farm Developments & Export Cabling’.
The next session on ‘Data Compilation and Manipulation: GIS and Visualisation’ features three presentations:

  • Advances in Site Survey Ground Model Development, Brian Critchley, Geo-4D
  • Using GIS for Multi-Criterion Decision Support in a Geomorphically Challenging Deep Water Environment, Brittany Bruce, Fugro GeoConsulting
  • Using Composite Cost Surfaces for GIS Based Deep Water Site and Route Selection, Dr. William Haneberg, Fugro GeoConsulting then comes the panel discussion ‘What is the way forward for improvements in Geophysical and Geotechnical Integration?’ moderated by Toby Powell and in which Andy Hill is very much involved.

While the geophysical and geotechnical sides of site investigation have always worked closely together, there has been little genuine overlap between the two. The “Holy Grail” of integration has possibly always been the hoped for capability to extract geotechnical properties directly from geophysical data - or to directly extrapolate properties away from the borehole to evaluate, and understand, potential spatial changes in soil properties and their implications to geo-engineering issues - such as foundation design or slope instability. Is this still the area to focus on in integration, or are there other evolving areas of technical concern where geotechnical engineers would like support?

Over the last thirty years tangible progress has been relatively little – despite the great strides in geophysical capability in the exploration arena over the same time period. So is it time to look at this afresh or are we doomed to fail?

A unique group of three panelists from BP - one man with three different perspectives - will provide their viewpoints from their own technical backgrounds of geophysical site investigation, geotechnical engineering and exploration geophysics to highlight technical commonalities and areas of present, or future, technical opportunity for improved geophysical and geotechnical integration before the debate is thrown open to the floor for discussion.

As Rapporteur, Professor Richard Jardine, Professor of Geomechanics, Dean of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, will summarize the discussions and point to areas of possible future potential for research and development.

As well as the traditional areas ocean observing systems; hydrography, geophysics, and site investigation; and dealing with UUV development, there are OI conferences devoted to  underwater positioning and metrology; and underwater communications. 

Oil and gas ‘Operating in Extreme Environments’; marine renewables, and maritime security also come under the conference spotlight. Topical panel discussions looking at areas which are creating a growing demand for marine science and technology – aquaculture, ballast water and subsea mining are an OI 2014 introduction.

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