Seismic Testing

About seismic testing

We need to stand together before it is too late. Australia has been on fire for months. Billions of lives have been lost and the end is nowhere near in sight.
While a large portion of the population is getting vocal about the need for environmentally sustainable businesses and new climate policies, the government continues to approve environmentally damaging projects – such as seismic testing.

What is “seismic testing”?

Seismic testing is used to find oil and gas reserves under the ocean floor. The process involves blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns every 10 seconds and measuring the echos [1]. The airgun noise penetrates the ocean floor and relays data about what is under the surface [2].

Image result for seismic testing"
Credit: Oceana

How loud are the blasts?

The level of noise created by each airgun blast is 259 decibels – strong enough to kill a human. They are roughly 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine [3].

These blasts occur every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a set period of time – typically months.

Noise travels incredibly well through water and can be heard up to 4,000km away [4].

To put that in perspective, it’s like hearing the Sydney fireworks from Perth.

Nadia – Animal Liberation

Does it harm animals?

Yes. Marine animals rely heavily on their hearing. Sound is essential for communicating, mating, feeding and avoiding predators [5]. As a result of the continuous noise, marine life can suffer from hearing loss and even death. It also disrupts their mating and feeding habits, causes abandonment of habitat, and beach strandings [2]. This includes everything from rock lobsters and crabs to dolphins and whales. Seismic testing can have long term impacts on marine life population numbers.

Scientists from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and Curtin University, studied the impacts of the airguns on zooplankton. Their research found that the airgun blasts caused an increase in zooplankton mortality from 18 percent to 40-60 percent, up to 1.2km away from the range tested. The study also found that all larval krill in the range were killed after the air gun’s passage [5]​.

This means that not only can it damage marine animals hearing, it can also remove their food source.

Other Issues

Once oil is found, there is a potential for a catastrophic oil spill. Exhibit the BP Horizon Oil Spill or Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil rig exploded in 2010 and the effects are still being felt today [6]. On top of this, there will be an increase in noise pollution from drilling and boat traffic, and an increase in pollution – all of which have the potential to fundamentally disrupt the marine environment.

Where is it happening?

A small notice in the Lake Mail mentioned “a survey” was about to begin in the Lake Macquarie. The advert was misleading, as it intentionally left out the words “seismic testing”, it simply stated the “survey” was to begin on Monday 3rd February 2020 and would continue for ~8 weeks.

Save Our Coast “discovered through the EDO that a 1977 mining lease, renewed in 2013, allowed for “prospecting” (which includes seismic testing) without the need for Centennial Coal to obtain further approvals, environmental impact statements or community consultation. Even the local MPs did not know anything about it, let alone the community.”

Centennial Coal, claimed that the “survey” will have “no impact on marine animals”, despite the marine assessment document stating the harm caused by sound at levels of 219-229 decibels.

What you can do!

Save Our Coast and their supporters managed to delay the testing for a week. We need everyone to act now to ensure that it is stopped for good.

1. CALL Centennial Coal’s communication manager Katie Brassil: 0419 356690 and tell Centennial Coal to STOP any form of seismic testing in the lake. (They may say that they are just “pops” of sound, but at 229+ decibels alone is damaging and tormenting to marine life).

2. CALL Your local (state) MP

3. CALL, message, Facebook or fax a letter to, the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean. Phone: (02) 9476 3411 Fax: (02) 9476 2965

4. PETITION the Senate to ban seismic testing in Australia.

Points to include when you contact them:

  • State your strong opposition to any form of seismic testing in the lake.
  • Underwater noise is harmful to animals and can deafen or kill them (including fish, turtles and dolphins).

Seismic Testing notice
Image taken by Save Our Coast

One Comment

  1. Stop all destruction of our oceans. There is so much damage already without creating more. Please rethink your actions.

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