Any seismic trace can be decomposed into a 2D function of amplitude versus time and phase. We call this process phase decomposition, and the amplitude variation with time for a specific seismic phase is referred to as a phase component. For seismically thin layers, phase components are particularly useful in simplifying seismic interpretation. Subtle lateral impedance variations occurring within thin layers can be greatly amplified in their seismic expression when specific phase components are isolated. For example, the phase component corresponding to the phase of the seismic wavelet could indicate isolated interfaces or any other time symmetrical variation of reflection coefficients. Assuming a zero-phase wavelet, flat spots and unresolved water contacts may show directly on the zero-phase component. Similarly, thin beds and impedance ramps will show up on components that are 90° out of phase with the wavelet. In the case of bright spots caused by hydrocarbons in thin reservoirs because these occur when the reservoir is of an anomalously low impedance, it is safe to assume that the brightening caused by hydrocarbons occurs on the component 90° out of phase with the wavelet. Amplitudes of other phase components associated with bright reflection events, resulting perhaps from differing impedances above and below the reservoir, thus obscure the hydrocarbon signal. Assuming a zero-phase wavelet, bright-spot interpretation is thus greatly simplified on the 90° phase component. Amplitude maps for the Teal South Field reveal that the lateral distribution of amplitudes is greatly different for the original seismic data and the 90° phase component, exhibiting very different prospectivity and apparent areal distribution of reservoirs. As the impedance changes laterally, the interference pattern for composite seismic events also changes. Thus, waveform peaks, troughs, and zero crossings, may not be reliable indicators of formation top locations. As the waveform phase changes laterally due to lateral rock properties variations, the position of a formation top on the waveform also changes. By picking horizons on distinct phase components, this ambiguity is reduced, and more consistent horizon picking is enabled.

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