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L. Don Lett, assistant Professor of Geology, leaves tomorrow for Charleston, S.C., where he will carry out revolutionary experiments on the seismic method of determining geologic structure.
Thanks to the generosity of a friend of geology at Harvard that department has at its disposal a 6000 foot oil well near Charleston. Although the well never yielded any oil, it may now be the means of bringing forth something far more important than oil. It may produce a far-reaching, scientific discovery, which will profoundly influence oil prospecting and the recording of earthquakes.
"Usually," said Lett in an interview yesterday, "oil wells are used commercially or are otherwise made unfit for scientific study. This is the chance of a lifetime."
"Chance of a Lifetime"
"With portable seismographs, we will go down the 6000 foot hole and fire explosives at different levels along the descent. Then by making a series of observations at the surface of the giant hole we shall record the velocity of the sound in the layers which it penetrated. Finally we shall compare these velocities with those computed from ordinary surface measurements."
Lett's experiments on the seismic method of determining will thus involve two fundamental geologic principles. In the first place he will use as a basis the recording of earthquake waves, which give information on depths of the earth.
A Momentus Check
In the second place he will record explosion waves on the surface of the ground and compute from them the depths of the different rock layers and the velocity of sound in the rock layers.
If Lett is able to reconcile these two factors, he will have made a momentous check on the existing formulas, which are so vitally important commercially in oil prospecting and scientifically in interpreting surface layers of earth from local New England earthquakes.
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