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Abstract

The stratigraphy of deep-water reservoirs is commonly interpreted using seismic data. Exploration-grade seismic data are typically acquired with peak frequencies varying from 30 to 60 Hz, resulting in an average vertical stratigraphic resolution of between ∼23 m (30 Hz) to 11 m (60 Hz) in siliciclastic sediments. Many stratigraphic bodies, such as architectural elements and beds, can not be resolved at these frequencies, however. Seismic forward modeling of deep-water outcrop analogs provides a method by which this uncertainty can be addressed. Such modeling allows us to produce seismic images constructed from outcrops, where architectural elements, bedding, and facies are known. One of the advantages of this technique is the ability to bridge the gap between stratigraphic concepts learned from outcrop analogs and observations from seismic data sets.

Seismic forward models of five exposures from the Brushy Canyon Formation of west Texas are presented here. The exposures span an upper slope to basin-floor transect through the depositional system. Each outcrop contains unique stratal architecture and facies related to its position on the slope-to-basin physiographic profile. The seismic forward models have been constructed using geologic interpretations from LIDAR (light detection and ranging) data, stratigraphic columns, photo-panels, and paleocurrent measurements. These models are generated at several peak frequencies (30, 60, and 125 Hz). The resulting seismic forward models can be compared directly with corresponding outcrop analogs, allowing a direct comparison between outcrop and seismic architecture. The outcrop and seismic architecture of each of the five models can be compared with one another to address changes in seismic architecture associated with their positions on the slope-to-basin physiographic profile.

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