We have evaluated a two-step Bayesian algorithm for seismic-reservoir characterization, which, thanks to some simplifying assumptions, is computationally very efficient. The applicability and reliability of this method are assessed by comparison with a more sophisticated and computer-intensive Markov-chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm, which in a single loop directly estimates petrophysical properties and lithofluid facies from prestack data. The two-step method first combines a linear rock-physics model (RPM) with the analytical solution of a linearized amplitude versus angle (AVA) inversion, to directly estimate the petrophysical properties, and related uncertainties, from prestack data under the assumptions of a Gaussian prior model and weak elastic contrasts at the reflecting interface. In particular, we use an empirical, linear RPM, properly calibrated for the investigated area, to reparameterize the linear time-continuous P-wave reflectivity equation in terms of petrophysical contrasts instead of elastic constants. In the second step, a downward 1D Markov-chain prior model is used to infer the lithofluid classes from the outcomes of the first step. The single-loop (SL) MCMC algorithm uses a convolutional forward modeling based on the exact Zoeppritz equations, and it adopts a nonlinear RPM. Moreover, it assumes a more realistic Gaussian mixture distribution for the petrophysical properties. Both approaches are applied on an onshore 3D seismic data set for the characterization of a gas-bearing, clastic reservoir. Notwithstanding the differences in the forward-model parameterization, in the considered RPM, and in the assumed a priori probability density functions, the two methods yield maximum a posteriori solutions that are consistent with well-log data, although the Gaussian mixture assumption adopted by the SL method slightly improves the description of the multimodal behavior of the petrophysical parameters. However, in the considered reservoir, the main difference between the two approaches remains the very different computational times, the SL method being much more computationally intensive than the two-step approach.

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