CASE HISTORY 2: Seismic Depth Conversion and Migration—Techniques and Applications
Bruce McClellan, Jim Johnson, Steve Whitney, Robert Bryan, 1991. "Seismic Depth Conversion and Migration—Techniques and Applications", Seismic Modeling of Geologic Structures: Applications to Exploration Problems, Stuart W. Fagin
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A spectrum of time/depth conversion techniques are presented which, in order of presentation, require greater effort as needed for increasingly complex structure.These techniques are (1) using regionally smoothed stacking velocities, (2) using horizon-keyed interval velocities, (3) using iterative forward ray-trace modeling, and (4) using modeling in conjunction with depth migration. Case histories are presented which illustrate the operation and effect of each of these techniques.
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Seismic interpretation apparently is becoming primarily a geologic rather than a geophysical skill. This observation has been true from the moment seismic reflection data were displayed as a continuous record with the intention of creating an image of subsurface structure. The imaging advances that have occurred in the past two decades only reinforce the tendency. More effective migration algorithms making use of faster and less expensive computers, as well as high-fold and, in particular, 3-D data all serve to make the seismic picture better. As the image increasingly reveals more geology, the geologic skills become more crucial to the task of extracting the information made available. As seismic artifacts such as multiples, sideswipe, and raypath distortion effects are successively eliminated from the image, the geophysical sophistication of the interpreter becomes increasingly less important. At first glance it would seem that these tendencies can only intensify as these technological trends continue.
And yet the depiction of complex structures remains elusive. Migration programs have been developed that can manage the severe raypath bending attendant with complex structures. Moreover, the ever decreasing costs of computation make the application of these programs increasingly more feasible. Unfortunately, to benefit from these imaging approaches requires, a priori, an increasingly more precise definition of the velocity field which often is, in itself, an expression of geologic structure. Therefore, before we can create the image, we require an understanding of what the image is supposed to show. This circumstance implies that the preparation of the seismic image has become, and will likely remain, inextricably bound up with its interpretation.