We examine the conventional methodology for tying wells to processed seismic data and show why this methodology fails to allow for reliable interpretation of the seismic data for stratigraphy. We demonstrate an alternative methodology that makes the tie without the use of synthetic seismograms, but at the price of measuring the seismic source signature, the cost of such measurements being about 1% of data acquisition costs. The essence of the well tie is (1) to identify geological and seismic interfaces from the logs and core, (2) to measure the one-way traveltime to these interfaces using downhole geophones, and (3) to use the polarity information from (1) and the timing information from (2) to identify the horizons on the zero-phase processed seismic data. Conventional processing of seismic data usually causes the wavelet to vary from trace to trace, and conventional wavelet extraction at a well using the normal-incidence reflection coefficients relies on a convolutional relationship between these coefficients and the processed data that has no basis in the physics of the problem. Each new well introduces a new wavelet and poses a new problem–how should the zero-phasing filter be derived between wells?
Our methodology consists of three steps: (1) determination of the wavelet consisting of all known convolutional effects before any processing using measurements of the source time function made during data acquisition, (2) compression of this wavelet to the shortest zero-phase wavelet within the bandwidth available, and (3) elimination of uncontrolled distortions to the wavelet in subsequent processing. This method is illustrated with data from the prospective Jurassic succession in the Moray Firth rift arm of the North Sea in which we have identified, for the first time on seismic data, a major regional unconconformity that cuts out more than 20 Ma of geological time. This method offers two major benefits over the conventional approach. First, all lateral variations in the processed seismic data are caused by the geology. Second, events on the processed seismic data may be identified from well logs simply by their polarity and timing. It follows that events can then be followed on the seismic data from one well to another with confidence, the seismic data can be interpreted for stratigraphy, and subtle stratigraphic traps may be identified.