February 2012

What’s new in exploration

Useful mobile apps for explorationists

Nina Rach / Contributing Editor

Software developers offer an increasing number of mobile applications, at little-to-no cost, for the upstream industry. The most useful are ported to different platforms and offered in a variety of languages.

Field Geology. Few exploration geoscientists spend a lot of time in the field, but probably all have learned to use a Brunton pocket transit or Silva-style compass. With the GeologyCompass app (Pusch Ridge Consulting), “your iPhone becomes a one-touch alternative to a manual compass.” Version 1.0 (0.2 MB) was released on Feb. 5, 2011, is available only in English, and does not support iPod touch ($0.99).

The Lambert app, by Peter Appel, also turns your iPhone into a geological compass to measure direction (strike) and angle of dip. The data can be previewed in projection diagrams (Wulff and Schmidt Nets) and transferred  to a computer. Measurement localities can be annotated and plotted on a map. Version 1.7 (0.3 MB) was released Jan. 27, 2012, and includes a joint diagram. Users like the ability to plot data on stereonets, but lament that this app is not ported to the iPad. It is available in English and German ($2.99).

Glossary. Schlumberger offers an application that optimizes the display of its Oilfield Glossary on mobile Apple devices. It requires an active Internet connection and supports WiFi, 3G, and 2G. The glossary was launched in 1998 and contains more than 4,600 entries.

Version 1.02.06 (0.7 MB) was issued Jan. 18, 2012, but is still usable only on iPhone and iPod touch, and is only available in English. The two most common requests are for an iPad version and a stand-alone, offline glossary that does not require an Internet connection. Perhaps Schlumberger could also consider offering a mobile version of the Curve Mnemonic Dictionary, which contains a wealth of useful information on well logging, material properties, units of measure, geologic time, depositional environments and minerals.

Logging. Halliburton offers eChartBook, an environmental correction chart calculator. This interactive application includes charts for all of Halliburton’s major LWD and wireline sensors, such as gamma ray, resistivity, density and neutron porosity. The app also includes charts and tools for determining water saturation, borehole salinity, formation dip calculations and cross plots. There are single-point calculators that allow the user to assess the impact of changes in the logging environment on formation evaluation measurements.

Version 1.3 (4.1 MB), issued May 10, 2011, for iPhone and iPad, is available in English, French, German and Spanish. The eChartBook application can also be accessed through the web, or on Blackberry or Android mobile devices.

Rig data. Baker Hughes offers a free, interactive map application of U.S. rotary rig counts, powered by RigData, and compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The U.S. rig count is released weekly at noon, Central Standard Time, on the last day of the work week. The first release of the app was a highly appreciated, useful tool.

Version 1.1.0 (0.6 MB), updated Aug. 8, 2011, added state, county and basin filters for aggregate rig counts, but was stripped of most well information, such as operator name, well name, rig name or spud date. This prompted a spate of publicly posted comments from early adopters who regret “upgrading.”

Those looking for additional rig data may wish to download DataWright Corp.’s RigData Mobile, an interactive map application that displays the location and status of all working oil and gas drilling rigs in the U.S. The user can sort and filter by driller, rig number, operator, well name and more, but only on iPhones or iPod touch.

Version 1.0.2 (1.5 MB), updated Nov. 2, 2011, can be used free for two weeks, after which a $75 monthly subscription fee applies. RigData needs to develop a version for iPad.

GIS. Oakland, Calif.-based Integrity Logic is in the process of releasing a new GIS system for the iPhone, covering geology and geography in all U.S. states. The state data are being released in separate Geograph apps and contain 21 to 50 layers of information. A little more than half of the country’s area has been covered, and some states have already been revised. Geograph TX 1.2 was released in February 2010.

Public portal. The British Geological Survey launched its OpenGeoscience web portal in December 2009, with free access to BGS maps, photos, reports, data downloads and software for non-commercial users. Among the OpenGeoscience offerings is iGeology, a smartphone app for iPhone, iPad or Android devices that “lets you take a geological map of Britain with you wherever you go to help you learn about the rocks beneath your feet.” iGeology is accurate to about 50 m on the ground, and shows bedrock geology and the overlying superficial deposits. Additional geological layers, including faults, as shown on the 1:50,000-scale geological maps for England, Wales and Scotland, are available as part of the Digital Geological Map of Great Britain (DiGMapGB-50) dataset through a web map service (WMS). Version 2.0 (6.1 MB) of iGeology was released on Nov. 23, 2011.

The BGS hopes that the release of iGeology, and the OpenGeoscience portal, will help them develop new and innovative ways to use existing information to solve problems facing humans today, such as climate change or geological hazards (earthquakes, landslides).

BGS adds, “By harnessing the power of the public, we may soon be able to ‘crowdsource’ ideas that may help reduce the impact of these issues. iGeology is just the start of this process and in the future,  we may be able to get felt observations of earthquakes, gather video or georeferenced photos, or as technology advances, use mobile phones as seismometers.”  wo-box_blue.gif 

About the Authors
Nina Rach
Contributing Editor
Nina Rach is an energy consultant with more than 25 years of industry experience. She holds a BS degree in geological engineering from Cornell University, an MS degree in geophysics and geology from Duke University, and a law degree from the University of Houston.
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