Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

The Art and Science of Contouring

January 01, 2004


Most significant petroleum exploration plays are accompanied by a series of contour maps representing the subsurface geology. Today, seismic maps are generally the foundation of a well recommendation or seismic-survey proposal. The following uses the discussions of Tucker (1988) and of Gadallah (1994) in giving a brief summary of contour mapping.

It is essential that the contour map convey to management the essential message. In the words of Tucker (1988, p. 741), “Here's the oil deposit!” We can interchange gas or mineral deposit for oil in that statement, depending on the play.

IMost of us are familiar with topographic maps that contain lines of constant elevation, known as elevation contours. The contours of a subsurface structural map for a given formation display the topography as it would appear if rocks above the formation were stripped away. Such contour maps display the dip of a formation, as well as any folding or faulting of the structure.

Maps can be constructed to display the depth of a formation from some datum level. The data for seismic contour maps are obtained by picking times or depths from seismic sections. Because the picks from the seismic section are the essential data for our map, they should be made with considerable care. Generally, the initial picks are made by using ties to well logs or formation tops. The times and depths are then picked through the seismic-data volume by correlating reflected arrivals from trace to trace.

It is worthwhile

You do not currently have access to this article.

Figures & Tables


Geophysical Monograph Series

Fundamentals of Geophysical Interpretation

Laurence R. Lines
Laurence R. Lines
Search for other works by this author on:
Rachel T. Newrick
Rachel T. Newrick
Search for other works by this author on:
Society of Exploration Geophysicists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2004




Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal