We discuss a data-processing sequence adopted to reprocess a seismic line that crosses the Italian southern Apennines from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic margin and investigate both the overthrust and foreland areas. We first determine the main causes of the very low S/N ratio in the field data and then propose a processing sequence aimed at exploiting the signal content, also making use of a priori geological knowledge of this area. Our work indicates a combination of causes for the very low quality of the seismic data. These include length of the spread (about 20 km) that is unfavorable because of the rapid variation in the near-surface geology, tectonic complexity, crooked-line acquisition, and the rough topography associated with outcropping rocks characterized by highly variable velocities.

Based on the outcome of this data analysis, we present a processing sequence driven by knowledge of the regional tectonic setting and by knowledge of the shallow subsurface geology. The main effort is in removing the large, near-surface related noise components. The low S/N ratio makes it impossible or nearly impossible to successfully apply highly sophisticated techniques such as depth migration or wave equation datuming. Thus, we used robust techniques specifically designed to solve each problem that degraded data quality. The most relevant of these techniques were the removal of bad traces where unacceptably low quality was detected by energy and frequency decay criteria; estimation and correction for static time shifts attributable to near-surface conditions; optimization of common midpoint (CMP) sorting to attenuate the deleterious effects of the crooked-line acquisition; application of a weighted stacking technique to maximize stack power and application of prestack f-x deconvolution to attenuate uncorrelated noise.

The outcome of this processing sequence is compared with the result of a more standard sequence that was previously applied to the same data and is also discussed in terms of the possible geological model it might evidence. The realization of a seismic section showing rather continuous and structured events down to 8 s which, depending on the interpretation, may be related to Moho discontinuity or to very deep sedimentary layers supports the efficacy of the processing approach we propose.

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