Fault picking is a critical, but human-labor-intensive component of seismic interpretation. In a bid to improve fault imaging in seismic data, we have applied a directional Laplacian of a Gaussian operator to sharpen fault features within a coherence volume. We computed an M×M matrix of the second moment tensor distance-weighted coherence values that fell within a 3D analysis window about each voxel. The eigenvectors of this matrix defined the orientation of planar discontinuities, whereas the corresponding eigenvalues determined whether these discontinuities were significant. The eigenvectors, which quantified the fault dip magnitude and dip azimuth, defined a natural coordinate system for smoothing of the planar discontinuity. We rotated the data to the new coordinate system and applied the sharpening operator. By comparing the vector dip of the discontinuity to the vector dip of the reflectors, we could apply a filter to either suppress or enhance discontinuities associated with unconformities or low-signal-to-noise-ratio shale-on-shale reflectors. We have revealed the value and robustness of the technique by application to two 3D data volumes from offshore New Zealand, which exhibited polygonal faulting, shale dewatering, and mass transport complexes.

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