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Lidar Detects Traces of Ethane in the Atmosphere

Photonics Spectra
Aug 1999
Laser Exploration Inc. in Midland, Texas, reported that, in a field test of its lidar system, it had identified seeping hydrocarbon gas, presumably from underground deposits. Using a Raman-shifted chromium LISAF infrared laser made by Ophir Corp. in Littleton, Colo., the lidar system found ethane concentrations of less than 40 parts per billion over a 1- to 1.25-mile area. Background ethane levels in the atmosphere are 2 parts per billion.

The demonstration also identified methane and propane in concentrations that would signal the likelihood of deposits of oil and gas below the surface. The company plans to drill a hole to confirm the test results.


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