Leading role claimed for ER Mapper’s new edition (July 1997)

Helen Burdett of ER Mapper has provided thisintroduction to the functions of this raster-based GIS tool, which interfaces with themajor E&P software environments.

ER Mapper is the world's leading integrated mapping software. It offers unique data integration and enhancement functionality enabling geophysicists to access and display the wealth of information contained within seismic surveys. Subtle faults and features fundamental to risk and cost reduction in exploration can now be identified and selection and positioning accuracy of target wells and features can now be improved. At the recent EAGE conference in Geneva, Earth Resource Mapping presented their latest release, ER Mapper 5.5. This version included heightened 3D functionality, wizards and additional oil and gas imports allowing the user to exchange data with Charisma, GeoQuest and SeisWorks. The positive feedback generated from the vast number of demonstrations given over the five days re-affirms the software's number one position in the market place as well as testing the stamina of Earth Resource Mapping's staff!

Meteoric rise

Earth Resource Mapping was founded in 1989 and has continued its meteoric rise to the current number one position ever since. With such prestigious names as Landmark and Schlumberger amongst its distributors, its reputation is impeccable. Its user group similarly extends to the largest names in the industry such as BP Exploration, Mobil, Texaco and Shell.

One of the major advantages of ER Mapper is its unique and revolutionary algorithm concept instead of the traditional disk to disk processing. Previously, all intermediate processing steps created new datasets, which consumed huge amounts of disk space. In addition, all these files had to be kept in case the user wanted to adjust or reverse any processing. In contrast, ER Mapper performs all its processing when it displays an image, without using disk storage and with the advantage of maintaining the integrity of your data. As an integral part of the petroleum industry, image processing has continued to reach new heights and is now able to identify and thus prevent unnecessary and costly exploration.

Processing techniques

ER Mapper's proven capabilities in the interpretation and processing steps and finally map production confirm its fully functional abilities in the petroleum industry. ER Mapper provides new seismic horizon processing techniques including real-time sun illumination to highlight subtle faults and channels. It can display merges of multiple horizons and attributes such as dip, azimuth, depth and porosity in a single merged view. This gives the user the ability to combine all data fields for a given area in one single display. ER Mapper has a full suite of cartographic production tools giving the user the opportunity to create professional mapping. These can be printed using ER Mapper's own print management tool to over 250 hardcopy devices making additional printing software unnecessary. The software is available world-wide for Silicon Graphics and Sun Solaris workstations and PC's running Windows NT or Windows 95. As the industry has been driven into increasingly remote and hostile environments, satellite imagery offers up to date regional information in order to help plan and manage seismic surveys in such areas. Such a versatile tool as ER Mapper can now be deemed as essential in visualizing the whole picture. Paul Batey, a senior geophysicist at BP Exploration and Operating Company has described some of the uses for ER Mapper. "Because of inaccurate and out of date mapping, satellite imagery is incorporated to increase understanding of topography.

Elevational changes

With high resolution images combined with DEM's loaded into the ER Mapper's 3D viewer, survey planners can highlight problems in the area for example utilizing features such as elevational changes by adding contours, real time sun shading and slope formulas".

ER Mapper can allow you to move a light source in real-time over a chosen display, controlling elevation and azimuth to make the image appear in three-dimensional relief. This process increases the ability to see faint features such as faults and channels, which were not visible in the original data. Together with the other information gained, a seismic acquisition plan can be produced for an acquired acreage, which can then locate seismic lines relative to topological features and existing infrastructure. When surface geology is analyzed with respect to seismic locations, you can place ground truth within the context of seismic data and thus greatly reduce costs for planning wells in remote terrain. ER Mapper integrates satellite and radar imagery to detect possible hydrocarbon seepage on the sea surface, offshore installation and structural field mapping. This allows the user to fully visualize all forms of geographic data. ER Mapper is the only system that is currently available that allows you to interpret your data to this degree.


Dave Cowen, the senior geophysicist at Texaco Ltd. muses upon the quagmire that the massive amounts of data generated in interpretation in the oil industry has produced. Because of this, "tools to study and analyze that data and visualize information quickly and easily are a must. We find ER Mapper just that tool". ER Mapper contains all the functions and capabilities you need to process and integrate your data including image warping and rectification, full on screen annotation and vector editing, a real world map projection database covering over 800 map projections and datums around the world. Other functions in the software include contrast stretching, raster modeling formulae, customizable filters and look up tables. The President and Founder of Resource GIS and Imaging, Gerry Mitchell sums up the advanced capabilities of ER Mapper 5.5 as " unequalled in providing productive solutions to data integration and imaging problems. Saving image algorithms, instead of having to save copies of multiple versions of the same datasets, solves the problem of managing large volumes of satellite imagery. ER Mapper's effective handling of vectors and the dynamic links to GIS systems provide, in minutes, integration of map and image data which used to take days".

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