ABSTRACT

Gas hydrates are located in the permafrost and in deepwater shallow sediments, where low temperature and high pressure satisfy the stability conditions of methane clathrates to remain as solid compounds. Hydrates are found in a form of fine-layered or altered-layered structure with hiatuses and necessitate high-resolution surveys, which may not be achieved by conventional marine acquisition using towed streamers. We have developed a recent case study in which the vertical cable seismic (VCS) method has been used for high-resolution subseafloor imaging using a set of buoyed vertical-arrayed receivers that are anchored to the seafloor. The observation close to the target in the deepwater environment provides a higher signal-to-noise ratio and higher resolution. The primary reflections, however, could not achieve reliable depth images in the data processing due to their limited subsurface coverage. We used a reverse time migration (RTM) implementation of mirror imaging to extend the spatial subsurface coverage by using receiver ghost reflections. Because conventional velocity analysis methods are not applicable to the VCS survey due to the asymmetrical reflection path between the source and receiver, we implemented seismic interferometry and generated virtual surface seismic data from VCS data for velocity analysis. To preserve the resolution, amplitudes, and phase characteristics, we applied mirror RTM on the ghost reflections in the original VCS data rather than imaging the virtual data. The introduced case study using a VCS survey for identifying the methane hydrate system of the Umitaka Spur in the Sea of Japan led to high-resolution images, which suggest that a large gas chimney exists beneath a pockmark and is responsible for transferring methane gas from a deep hydrocarbon source to the shallow sediments. A bottom-simulating reflector as the base of the gas hydrate stability zone was also imaged.

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