Oil reserves in the United States
Name: Bob W Whitebeck
How much oil reserves are left in the United States?
How is this determined?
I do not know the answer to your first question but I believe the Department
of Commerce or the American Petroleum Institute could help you there. The
volume is guessed at by a combination of looking for geographical formations
where oil might be trapped underground or under the sea-floor, and then making
test surveys with geophones - acoustical instruments that pick up the sound
and shock waves that are produced by detonating an explosive at a known
distance. By timing the sound waves travel you can guess at what kind of
material it passed through. Computers can be used to make three dimensional
"tomographic" maps from this kind of data, which gives engineers a clue as to
what is down there. I have heard it said recently that there is probably much
more than anyone thought 10 years ago, but I am not sure about the source of
that report. Maybe the US Geological Survey would know.
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Update: June 2012