Acquisition of 3D seismic surveys in urban areas is one of many obstacles explorationists face when exploring rapidly expanding plays such as the Barnett Shale of the Fort Worth Basin in Texas. To compensate for limited lease sizes, drilling deadlines, and cultural growth, we have been forced to revisit 3D seismic acquisition technologies and examine all factors considered key to designing minimum-size 3D seismic surveys. With small urban lease sizes, explorationists are forced to limit their work to a few hundred acres—an approach we like to call “surgical” 3D surveys. Although these may seem too small and appear to violate current thinking on acquisition parameters and design criteria, there are potential applications for this approach that are beneficial and important to prospect development and play enhancement. In our initial tests, small surgical 3D surveys proved adequate in imaging the particular targets of interest and the limited survey size turned out not to be an issue. The processed seismic images allowed confident interpretation of fractures, karsts, and faults with minimal displacement. Results of our study are a clear indication that this approach works and in this particular area, is especially well suited for drilling hazard surveys (Figure 1).

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