The formation containing shallow gas clouds poses a major challenge for conventional P-wave seismic surveys in the Sanhu area, Qaidam Basin, west China, as it dramatically attenuates seismic P-waves, resulting in high uncertainty in the subsurface structure and complexity in reservoir characterization. To address this issue, we proposed a workflow of direct shear-wave seismic (S-S) surveys. This is because the shear wave is not significantly affected by the pore fluid. Our workflow includes acquisition, processing, and interpretation in calibration with conventional P-wave seismic data to obtain improved subsurface structure images and reservoir characterization. To procure a good S-wave seismic image, several key techniques were applied: (1) a newly developed S-wave vibrator, one of the most powerful such vibrators in the world, was used to send a strong S-wave into the subsurface; (2) the acquired 9C S-S data sets initially were rotated into SH-SH and SV-SV components and subsequently were rotated into fast and slow S-wave components; and (3) a surface-wave inversion technique was applied to obtain the near-surface shear-wave velocity, used for static correction. As expected, the S-wave data were not affected by the gas clouds. This allowed us to map the subsurface structures with stronger confidence than with the P-wave data. Such S-wave data materialize into similar frequency spectra as P-wave data with a better signal-to-noise ratio. Seismic attributes were also applied to the S-wave data sets. This resulted in clearly visible geologic features that were invisible in the P-wave data.

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