Although sonic imaging can provide higher resolution images of the near-wellbore region than lower frequency seismic and borehole seismic measurements, many challenges confront its more widespread use. The traditional sonic imaging workflow of first filtering the borehole modes and then migrating the underlying reflected arrival events ignores a critical interpretation step, namely, characterizing these reflected arrivals in terms of their azimuths, raypath types, and other attributes. Furthermore, using sonic imaging results in subsequent modeling and simulation workflows requires determining the 3D coordinates or at least the true dip and azimuth of these near-wellbore reflectors, and feature extraction from noisy 2D sonic imaging migration images cannot provide either of these. To address these interpretation challenges and develop a means of mapping these reflectors without requiring a migration, a central issue that arises is whether we can determine the slowness and propagation direction of a reflected wavefield using a standard array of receiver sensors mounted around the circumference of a tool sonde. To accomplish this task, we have developed 3D slowness time coherence (STC). We combine an automated time pick with a ray-tracing procedure and our 3D STC processing to evaluate the many candidate arrival events that may be present in the filtered waveform measurements, which leads to a 3D map of the reflectors that can be readily integrated into digital models of the surrounding subsurface as well as logs of reflector true dip and azimuth that can be compared with similar logs produced from borehole images.

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