The use of 4D technology, in recent findings, shows it's only producing minimal results but in the oil business, it does save time and time is money.
Currently, oil explorers use expensive 3D seismic which requires exploration over a large area on the ground only to get minimal results when exploratory wells are drilled. This is expensive and time consuming, but since 1993, things have been changing.
Stress Field Detection (SFD) was first developed by Owl industries in 1992 and first used commercially in 1993. It works by detecting the changes in the density of material and porous rocks. The porous rocks fill with oil and have a different gravitational pull than other materials.
On the ground, geological engineers use gravimeters, instruments used by measuring the earth's gravitational field, and gravity gradiometers, which measure the difference in magnitude between locations to help discover potential fields. SFD differs in that it also responds to changes in orientation caused by stress.
SFD is used from a plane flying in a grid pattern 3,000 meters above the ground at 500 kilometers an hour. The signals rebound from the rocks and are analyzed by the plane's onboard equipment. Once the survey has been completed, engineers in the surveying company's offices produce more detailed maps and site information and return this to their client with advice on where to begin ground work. This takes approximately three months and is considered to be more cost and time efficient than traditional ground work. And since it also works over water, it's better for carrying out survey's rather than test drill sites.
Twenty years on, the technology is proving itself to be useful in the field and as the technology develops it's likely that results will continue to improve as well.