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An underwater seep-detector system was placed in operation in November 1967 as one of the research and development programs on the M/V Gulfrex. From thousands of miles of traverse, the results of the hydrocarbon analyses of seawater have shown the tremendous potential of this system for locating petroleum and natural gas seepages in offshore areas. The seepages, in turn, indicate prospective areas of buried hydrocarbon deposits.
The Gulfrex seep detector is capable of analyzing seawater for saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons up to butane. The analyses have yielded surprisingly consistent data on the background hydrocarbon assemblage in the seas. From this knowledge, we now can recognize true petroleum and natural gas seepages, even in areas where prolific life activity may give abnormally high hydrocarbon backgrounds. The specific signature of hydrocarbon distributions in the sea also has the potential of distinguishing the types of hydrocarbon
accumulations giving rise to a seepage. Data are available for typical hydrocarbon backgrounds, abnormal hydrocarbon backgrounds, suspected gas seeps, and suspected petroleum seeps.
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