The Permian Basin of west Texas spans two major subbasins — the Midland Basin and the Delaware Basin. Both basins contain Wolfcampian- to Leonardian-age turbidites that form thick sections of prolific unconventional reservoirs. For the past several years, the most active drilling targets in the United States have been the Wolfberry turbidite interval of the Midland Basin and the Wolfbone turbidite interval in the Delaware Basin. We have used two new technologies to examine the internal architecture and fabric of a thick interval of these unconventional drilling targets with seismic reflection seismology. First, we used seismic interpretation software that uses unsupervised machine learning (ML), so that a higher level of detail could be extracted from seismic images. Second, we complemented our P-P imaging of Wolfberry turbidites with a new seismic imaging option, that being SV-P (or converted-P) imaging. Because vertical vibrators, particularly arrays of vertical vibrators, produce downgoing P and downgoing SV illuminating wavefields, SV-P reflections can usually be extracted from the same vertical-geophone responses as are P-P reflections. The combination of these two images essentially doubles the amount of information that can be extracted from data generated by P sources and recorded with vertical geophones. SV-P imaging with P sources has been ignored by reflection seismologists for decades, so we felt an obligation to illustrate the value of this ignored seismic mode. These two new tools — SV-P imaging and interpreting P-P and SV-P images via unsupervised ML — expanded our insights into the internal architecture and fabric of Wolfberry turbidites. Our work provides interpreters a much-needed example of applying unsupervised ML technology in a joint interpretation of P- and S-wave data.

You do not currently have access to this article.