It’s part of the popular lore of how to get rich by finding oil: all you have to do is look for it bubbling to the surface. That’s actually how some of the biggest oil fields were discovered many years ago.
Now, scientists are again trying to find oil and gas deposits by looking for them at the surface, albeit with sophisticated satellite and digital technology.
Dr. Shuhab Khan, from the University of Houston is using hyperspectral satellite remote sensing. Khan has been working for years on perfecting a method of oil exploration that uses images of the earth’s surface taken by NASA satellites to find anomalies that are linked to where oil and gas is seeping to the surface. Called microseeps, these tiny hydrocarbon leaks can cause chemical changes in plants, soil and rocks.