Kevin Desroches

Natural Resources Canada

Learn about heading to sea to survey the Atlantic continental shelf and what is involved in gathering seismic data off the stern of a ship.


I’ve always really enjoyed going to sea even before I figured out which medication to take to keep me from getting sea sick. So when I was getting sea sick, I still kind of enjoyed it. Going to sea was always the most fun.

Initially, we were doing the desktop study work to look at the areas that would potentially be within a Canadian claim within the Arctic and the Atlantic. When the project grew, the fact that I was a geologist helped and I got to be slotted in. So I got to do some of the science.

When you start on these jobs, there is a 2 or 3 day process where you are deploying the gear. So we are dealing with a 3 or 4 or 5 kilometre long streamer which is like a soft puffy garden hose that would sail behind the ship just below the water surface and all of our listening devices are attached to that. It takes about 12 to 16 hours to get that out and balanced. Then when things get going and if things are going well, it’s very smooth. Every 15 or 20 seconds you hear a bump, then you hear another bump, then you hear another bump. And every time you hear a bump, that’s the sound signal going out and getting recorded. There are people that are cutting the lines. You go in the computer labs there are people that are watching the data as it is coming in. You watch the noise levels, watch the frequency levels to make sure that everything is working fine.

In the Arctic, no one was doing what we were doing on the Louis. That seismic equipment was developed here in this building, by people here, and it’s been adopted by other countries. The Norwegians are using the very same kind of system now on their oceanographic vessels.

I’ve said to my friends sometimes, you know, “I made the country a little bit bigger today. What did you do?” And that’s a pretty good feeling. The fact that our job here has been to expand our sovereignty a little bit is actually pretty exciting.

Once of the things this project has allowed me to do is actually to work more as a scientist. When I came in I was working more at a technician’s level. But by going out to sea and collecting the seismic data, it’s given me the opportunity to, when we came back, do some processing of the seismic data. Now I’m actually working it up, looking at the stratigraphic history of the margin, and writing scientific papers. That’s really exciting. It’s not something I had done and it’s not something frankly that I thought I would get to do.

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