Depositional environments can be predicted from seismic data through an orderly approach to the interpretation of seismic reflections. One keystone to this approach is an understanding of the effects of lithology and bed spacing on reflection parameters. Amplitude, frequency, and continuity are some of the parameters most useful for interpreting environments. Reflection amplitude contains information on the velocity and density contrasts at individual interfaces and on the extent of interbedding. Frequency is primarily a characteristic of the nature of the seismic pulse, but it is also related to such geologic factors as the spacing of reflectors or lateral changes in interval velocity. Continuity of reflections is closely associated with continuity of bedding (e.g., continuous reflections suggest widespread, layered deposits).A second keystone to this interpretive approach is the parallelism of reflection cycles to gross bedding and, therefore, to physical surfaces that separate older from younger sediments. Exceptions to this concept include (1) fluid contact reflections, (2) limitations imposed by seismic resolution, and (3) various non-geologic coherent events. In spite of these exceptions, this concept provides a powerful tool for the analysis of reflection patterns.Reflection cycle patterns include the configuration of reflections (i.e., layered, chaotic, and reflection-free) and the nature of cycle terminations at the depositional unit boundaries. The external form of the depositional unit can be analyzed from a grid of seismic lines and is valuable in interpreting the depositional processes responsible for the unit. Sheet, sheet drape, wedge, lens, fan, and other forms are described. The areal associations of these forms are often critical to environmental interpretation. Examples of facies interpretation from seismic sections are shown for depositional environments ranging from shelf to basin floor.

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