Abstract

Following decades of technological innovation, geologists now have access to extensive 3D seismic surveys across sedimentary basins. Using these voluminous data sets to better understand subsurface complexity relies on developing seismic stratigraphic workflows that allow very high-resolution interpretation within a cost-effective timeframe. We have developed an innovative 3D seismic interpretation workflow that combines full-volume and semi-automated horizon tracking with high-resolution 3D seismic stratigraphic analysis. The workflow consists of converting data from seismic (two-way traveltime) to a relative geological time (RGT) volume, in which a relative geological age is assigned to each point of the volume. The generation of a horizon stack is used to extract an unlimited number of chronostratigraphic surfaces (i.e., seismic horizons). Integrated stratigraphic tools may be used to navigate throughout the 3D seismic data to pick seismic unconformities using standard seismic stratigraphic principles in combination with geometric attributes. Here, we applied this workflow to a high-quality 3D seismic data set located in the Northern Carnarvon Basin (North West Shelf, Australia) and provided an example of high-resolution seismic stratigraphic interpretation from an Early Cretaceous shelf-margin system (Lower Barrow Group). This approach is used to identify 73 seismic sequences (i.e., clinothems) bounded by 74 seismic unconformities. Each clinothem presents an average duration of approximately 63,000 years (fifth stratigraphic order), which represents an unprecedented scale of observation for a Cretaceous depositional system on seismic data. This level of interpretation has a variety of applications, including high-resolution paleogeographical reconstructions and quantitative analysis of subsurface data. This innovative workflow constitutes a new step in seismic stratigraphy because it enables interpreters to map seismic sequences in a true 3D environment by taking into account the full variability of depositional systems at high frequency through time and space.

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