Abstract

The U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) geology is well known for prolific structural hydrocarbon traps created by salt tectonics. In many areas, these structures lie below salt overhangs or thick canopies, requiring advanced seismic imaging to identify prospects and plan exploration wells. Ever-evolving geophysical technologies, such as 3D seismic, wide azimuth, multiwide azimuth, coil, and ocean-bottom node (OBN) acquisition designs, have unlocked the image for some of these structures over the past three decades. Recently, automatic velocity model building methods, particularly full-waveform inversion (FWI), introduced another step change in the subsalt image quality and refocused the acquisition methods on the need to acquire long-offset data. To make such a long-offset program affordable, a new survey geometry was set up with sparse OBN nodes and simultaneous shooting. The actual survey was acquired in 2019 and fully processed within 15 months from the end of the acquisition. Offsets up to 65 km were recorded, enabling FWI velocity updates down to 15 km depth. To provide the reader with a glimpse of the geologic insight that the new technology enabled, we report a few examples of deep geology revealed by this survey in a hydrocarbon- and seismic-data-rich area of the GoM — the Greater Mars-Ursa Basin.

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