Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Natural variation in sound speed within ocean water can degrade sub-seabed images from 2D, 3D and 4D seismic reflection datasets. Degrading effects include vertical offset of reflections between adjacent or intersecting sail lines and difficulties in suppressing multiples from water layer reverberations. Here we investigate water layer variability in Rockall Trough, offshore Ireland, in water depths ranging from 200 m to 3.5 km. A compilation of vertical sound speed profiles, calculated from temperature and salinity profiles obtained by probes lowered from ships, shows that the mean sound speed in the water layer mostly varies between 1490 and 1500 m s−1. Vertical offsets of up to about 15 ms two-way travel time are predicted at seismic line intersections. A significant amount of the total observed sound speed variability can occur along a single seismic sail line. These effects result mainly from spatial and temporal fluctuations in the thicknesses of, and vertical sound speed gradients within, an upper layer of North Atlantic Central Water and a mid-depth layer of Mediterranean Outflow Water. Seismic sections across Rockall Trough commonly show lateral variability in reflectivity within these same two water layers. Some reflective packages contain lens-shaped structures consisting of reflective rims and transparent cores and with diameters between 10 and 50 km. Other reflective packages have abrupt, almost vertical boundaries and no distinct transparent core. We infer that the lateral boundaries of the reflective packages are likely to be associated with significant variations in average water layer sound speed. When processing 2D, 3D and 4D seismic surveys of regions of high oceanic variability, such as Rockall Trough, it is necessary to employ techniques that can solve for and then remove the effect of significant fluctuations in water layer sound speed over time periods as short as a few hours and distances as short as a kilometre.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal