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Practicing Geophysics: 3D seismic volume visualization and interpretation: An integrated workflow with case studies

Dengliang Gao
Dengliang Gao
1Formerly Marathon Oil corporation, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.; presently Chevron Energy Technology Company, Earth Sciences Department, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. E-mail:
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January 01, 2010


One of the major problems in subsurface seismic exploration is the uncertainty (nonuniqueness) in geologic interpretation because of the complexity of subsurface geology and the limited dimension of the data available. Case studies from worldwide exploration projects indicate that an integrated, three-dimensional (3D) seismic volume visualization and interpretation workflow contributes to resolving the problem by mining and exposing critical geologic information from within seismic data volumes. Following 3D seismic data acquisition and processing, the interpretation workflow consists of four integrated phases from data selection and conditioning, to structure and facies characterization, to prospect evaluation and generation, to well-bore planning. In the data selection and conditioning phase, the most favored and frequently used data are the full-angle, limited-angle, and limited-azimuth stack amplitude with significant structure and facies enhancements. Signal-to-noise ratio, color scheme, dynamic range, bit resolution, and visual contrast all affect the visibility of features of interest. In the structure and facies characterization phase, vertical slicing along arbitrary traverses demonstrates structure styles, stratigraphic architecture, and reservoir geometry in the cross-sectional view. Time/depth slicing defines lateral and vertical variability in the structural trend and areal extent in the map view. Stratal slicing and fault slicing map chronostratigraphic seismic facies and cross-stratal, along-fault seismic signature. Volume flattening and structure restoration aid in unraveling paleostructural framework and stratigraphic architecture and their growth histories. In the prospect evaluation and generation phase, a combination of volume trimming, co-rendering, transparency, attribute analysis, and attribute-body detection is instrumental in delineating volumetric extent and evaluating spatial connectivity of critical seismic features. Finally, in the well-bore planning phase, informed decision-making relies on the integration of all the information and knowledge interrogated from 3D seismic data. Most importantly, interpreters’ geologic insight and play concept are crucial to optimal well-bore planning with high geologic potential and low economic risk.

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Geophysical References Series

Geophysics Today: A Survey of the Field as the Journal Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

Sergey Fomel
Sergey Fomel
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2010




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