Güralp to Supply 120 Broad-Band Ocean Bottom Seismometers to NFSI

Güralp Systems Ltd, a leading global provider of seismic monitoring instrumentation and solutions, has been awarded a contract to supply 120 free-fall, Aquarius broad-band ocean bottom seismometer (“BBOBS”) systems and associated topside equipment to form the instrument pool of Canada’s National Facility for Seismic Imaging (“NFSI”) based at Dalhousie University in Halifax. 



The Aquarius is a compact unit with a low profile that minimizes flow noise on the seabed and features unique capabilities specifically suited to free-fall deployment in the deep ocean. As a result of a partnering agreement between Güralp and Sonardyne in 2019, Aquarius is equipped with Sonardyne’s 6G Wideband low-mid frequency (LMF) acoustics, making it the most compact telemetry-enabled OBS available in the market.



  • The sensor is operational at acute angles of up to ±180° without mechanical levelling
  • The on-board tri-axial, broadband seismometer has a 120s-100Hz response with a configurable long-period corner, making it ideal for instrument pools where response requirements may vary between projects  
  • The Sonardyne omnidirectional transducer enables cable-free data transfer through the water column – this is used at deployment by the OBS team to view ‘State of Health’ parameters, noise performance data and to confirm commencement of seismic recording once the system reaches the seabed. This is also compatible with a Sonardyne Gyro USBL acoustic transceiver, which can be used on a vessel of opportunity for underwater positioning during deployment and recovery
  • The recovery system once activated is supported by a satellite tracking system that locates the instrument on the sea surface for retrieval prior to data download, battery re-charge and re-deployment
  • Each of the re-usable Aquarius units will be engineered for a maximum depth of 6000m and has a battery life of at least 12 months

2 nfsi bbobs laboratory webThe NFSI 'BBOBS' laboratory



With this program, the NFSI aims to rebuild Canada’s OBS capability following the end of life decommissioning of the previous Canadian short period OBS pool [in 2015]. The NFSI is a partnership of ten major universities from across Canada including Dalhousie University, University of Victoria, University of British Colombia, Simon Fraser University, University of Manitoba, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Université du Québec à Montréal, McGill University and Memorial University.





The BBOBS contract was awarded following a public tender process that commenced in 2019. Güralp will also supply deck units and battery chargers and will assist the NFSI in establishing a BBOBS service center based at Dalhousie with accredited staff trained in operating and managing the Aquarius systems. Güralp will work in close cooperation with the NFSI project team, to ensure that the BBOBS pool meets the specific Instrument requirements. The expectation is that the entire pool of 120 Instruments will be completed and delivered within a two-year period.



Professor Mladen Nedimovic, NFSI Director, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dalhousie University said:




“The NFSI is delighted to have entered into an agreement with Güralp Systems Ltd. for supply of 120 Aquarius BBOBS. We are hopeful that this large pool of state-of-the-art BBOBS will enable us to expand our international collaborations to carry out unparalleled imaging and monitoring of critically important earth structures for fundamental science discoveries and improved earthquake and tsunami mitigation.”






Phil Hill, Engineering Director, Güralp Systems commented:



“At Güralp we have more than thirty years continuous experience in designing and manufacturing for the OBS market, so we are well aware of the challenges of deploying and operating instrumentation in the deep ocean. environment. The Aquarius is the beneficiary of multiple strands of our research and development strategy which have been running in parallel, including sensor technology, data management, and acoustic telemetry. This order will enable us to showcase the exceptional features of the Aquarius to a global audience and we are looking forward to working with the NFSI team on what promises to be a very exciting program.”





Geraint West, Global Business Manager, Oceanographic, at Sonardyne, added:



"This order from NFSI represents a significant milestone in the entry of the new Aquarius OBS into the market. Sonardyne is really pleased to have supported Güralp's development of this cutting edge instrument with our extensive experience of acoustic telemetry. We look forward to supporting the establishment of this internationally important new science capability in Canada.”