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A seismic crew is a team of people who conduct seismic tests to gather information about the geology of an area of interest. The biggest employer of seismic crews is the oil industry, which conducts extensive seismic research before drilling new wells for oil. Seismic crews can also work in mineral exploration, natural gas exploration, and scientific research. Members of a crew need to be strong and capable of enduring very harsh conditions, but there are no special educational requirements, with crews being trained by their employers and on the job.
When a seismic crew arrives at a site they have been assigned to survey, one of the things they do is create a series of controlled explosions. The behavior of these explosions is monitored with scientific instruments to create a map of underground geological formations. Seismic crews may also perform other measurements which are designed to provide more information. Essentially, their goal is to create a series of small earthquakes for the purpose of generating usable data in a seismic survey.
One of the most hazardous positions on a seismic crew is that of shooter or blaster, the person who sets explosive charges. Other members of the crew include helpers, drillers, staging managers, troubleshooters, and line crew bosses. Seismic crews may spend a lot of time on site, and often they are in locations which are very remote, so they are delivered by helicopter or must hike in. If the site proves to be viable and promising, the company will invest funds in development to make it more accessible.
Seismic crews work both on land and in the ocean. While their work is often commercial in nature, it can also generate valuable information which may be beneficial to the field of geology as a whole. The oil and mineral industries have both been credited with a number of geological discoveries which have been applied in noncommercial settings. Research geologists may also work with seismic crews to gather information about topics they are interested in.
It helps to have an interest in math, science, and geology to get work on a seismic crew, and most companies require crew members to have high school degrees. People usually start out as helpers, learning the mechanics of the work and receiving training in workplace protocols which are designed to protect worker safety and ensure that information is useful and valid. As people gain experience, they can apply for more high ranking positions on the seismic crew which come with additional pay and benefits.