Abstract

The identification and characterization of tectonic faults in the subsurface represent key aspects of geologic exploration activities across the world. We have evaluated the impact of alternative seismic time imaging methods on initial subsurface fault mapping in three dimensions in the form of a case study situated in the most external foreland of the European Central Alps (the northernmost Molasse Basin). Four different seismic amplitude volumes of one and the same 3D seismic data set, differing in imaging technologies and parameterizations applied, were considered for the interpretation of a fault zone dissecting a Mesozoic sedimentary sequence that is characterized by a pronounced mechanical stratigraphy and has witnessed a multiphase tectonic evolution. For this purpose, we interpreted each seismic amplitude volume separately. In addition, we computed a series of seismic attributes individually for each volume. Comparison of the different data interpretations revealed consistent results concerning the mapping of the seismic marker horizons and main fault segments. Deviations concern the apparent degree of vertical and lateral fault zone segmentation and the occurrence of small-scale fault strands that may be regarded as important fault kinematic indicators. The compilation of all fault interpretations in map form allows the critical assessment of the robustness of the initial seismic fault mapping, highlighting well-constrained from poorly defined fault zone elements. We conclude that the consideration of multiple seismic processing products for subsurface fault mapping is advisable to evaluate general imaging uncertainties and potentially guide the development of fault zone model variants to tackle previously discussed aspects of conceptual interpretation uncertainties.

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