We developed an integrated method that can better constrain subsalt tomography using geology, thermal history modeling, and rock-physics principles. This method, called rock-physics-guided velocity modeling for migration uses predicted pore pressure as a guide to improve the quality of the earth model. We first generated a rock-physics model that provided a range of plausible pore pressure that lies between hydrostatic (lowest possible pressure) and fracture pressure (highest possible pressure). The range of plausible pore pressures was then converted into a range of plausible depth varying velocities as a function of pore pressure that is consistent with geology and rock physics. Such a range of plausible velocities is called the rock-physics template. Such a template (constrained by geology) was then used to flatten the seismic gathers. We call this the pore-pressure scan technique. The outcome of the pore-pressure scan process was an “upper” and “lower” bound of pore pressure for a given earth model. Such velocity bounds were then used as constraints on the subsequent tomography, and further iterations were carried out. The integrated method not only flattened the common image point gathers but also limited the velocity field to its physically and geologically plausible range without well control; for example, in the study area it produced a better image and pore-pressure prognosis below salt. We determined that geologic control is essential, and we used it for stratigraphy, structure, and unconformity, etc. The method had several subsalt applications in the Gulf of Mexico and proved that subsalt pore pressure can be reliably predicted.

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