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Book Chapter

Modern Solutions to Pitfalls in Seismic Interpretation

January 01, 2004


One of the most useful books available to exploration geophysicists is the monograph by Tucker and Yorston (1973), Pitfalls in Seismic Interpretation. It starts with a biblical quote from Ecclesiastes 10:18: “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it.” This implies that many of the traps found in seismic data are not always of the hydrocarbon variety. These traps are misinterpretations of what we see in the seismic section. They are sometimes of our own creation. Many can be cured by processing.

  1. interpretation of seismic time sections as if they were depth sections, thus failing to recognize velocity effects

  2. interpretation of 3D effects on a 2D seismic section

  3. failure to recognize that some seismic arrivals are not related to the desired geologic structures but may be caused by “noise”

Many of the pitfalls originally described by Tucker and Yorston (1973) can be obviated with modern acquisition and processing methods. For the three pitfall types, modern preventive methods include the following:

  1. If misinterpretation of time sections is a problem, we should convert data to a depth section. This can be done with depth migration. Prestack depth migration is a great tool, as described in later chapters, but it does require accurate velocity information. A good example is shown in Figure 1. From the time section in Figure 1a, it appears that the top of the salt reflector is discontinuous. This is largely the result of velocity effects.

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Geophysical Monograph Series

Fundamentals of Geophysical Interpretation

Laurence R. Lines
Laurence R. Lines
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Rachel T. Newrick
Rachel T. Newrick
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2004




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