Seismic while drilling (SWD) can provide high-resolution subsurface information and characterize near-surface geology. We present a case study of SWD analysis using a data set from a desert environment acquired over a complex overburden. The data were acquired with a system composed of wireless surface geophones as well as top-drive and downhole sensors. The drill-bit noise data were reprocessed using a specialized workflow with two essential elements. First, a downhole pilot from a near-bit sensor was used for deconvolution, which led to improved data quality, particularly in the shallow subsurface. Second, nonlinear beamforming leveraged the 3D carpet of geophones to enhance signal quality and enable picking 3D traveltimes. A simple workflow for building a 1D velocity model used 3D traveltimes from an offset of 180 to 500 m. We vertically projected and averaged all 3D traveltimes to obtain a robust checkshot profile for the section from 190 to 1855 m. For the shallow subsurface (0–800 m), we further applied an advanced workflow with 3D traveltime inversion that more accurately handled mid- and far-offset data using a ray-tracing engine. More than 100,000 offset traveltime picks were inverted for a 1D velocity model. The model closely ties with the geology of the near surface, namely the formation tops associated with major impedance and lithologic contrasts. Amplitude signatures of 3D SWD gathers also correlate with the velocity model and lithologic changes, showing weak energy associated with soft formations and higher-energy first-arrival waveforms associated with compacted formations. Finally, we used the data extracted from a 2D line to reconstruct a migrated image of the back-propagated drill-bit sources. Joint use of kinematic and dynamic signatures helps characterize markers associated with loss circulation zones and target layers.

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