Because the confinement of CO2 in a storage reservoir depends on a stratigraphically continuous set of seals to isolate the fluid in the reservoir, the detection of structural anomalies is critical for guiding any assessment of a potential subsurface carbon storage site. Employing a suite of 3D seismic attribute analyses (as opposed to relying upon a single attribute) maximizes the chances of identifying geologic anomalies or discontinuities (e.g., faults) that may affect the integrity of a seal that will confine the stored CO2 in the reservoir. The Illinois Basin, a major area for potential carbon storage, presents challenges for target assessment because geologic anomalies can be ambiguous and easily misinterpreted when using 2D seismic reflection data, or even 3D data, if only conventional display techniques are used. We procured a small 3D seismic reflection data set in the central part of the basin (Stewardson oil field) to experiment with different strategies for enhancing the appearance of discontinuities by integrating 3D seismic attribute analyses with conventional visualizations. Focusing on zones above and below the target interval of the Cambrian Mt. Simon Sandstone, we computed attribute traveltime slices (combined with vertical views) based on discontinuity computations, crossline-directed amplitude change, azimuth of the dip, shaded relief, and fault likelihood attributes. The results provided instructive examples of how discontinuities (e.g., subseismic scale faults) may be almost “invisible” on conventional displays but become detectable and mappable using an appropriate integration of 3D attributes. Strong discontinuities in underlying Precambrian basement rocks do not necessarily propagate upward into the target carbon storage interval. The origin of these discontinuities is uncertain, but we explored a possible strike-slip role that also explains the localization of a structural embayment developed in Lower Paleozoic strata above the basement discontinuities.

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