Advances in Seismic Fault Interpretation Automation*
and Gaston Bejarano
Search and Discovery Article #40169 (2005)
Posted September 7, 2005*Modified by the authors of their poster presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, June 19-22, 2005
Schlumberger Stavanger Technology Center, Stavanger, Norway (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since the first seismic trace was computer-rendered, automatic interpretation has been the promised panacea of the geo-science community. Twenty years later, we still struggle for areasonable automatic interpretation methodology in structurally challenging areas.While automated horizon tracking has become quite elegant, correlating across significant faultdisplacements remains an obstacle. Algorithms require human intervention to guide the trackingin newly encountered fault blocks. Constraining the horizon tracking to honor pre-existing faultshelps, and knowing the fault displacement further enhances this process.Advances in edge-detection algorithms have allowed direct illumination of faulting andseismically detectable fractures. These techniques improve manual interpretation, but onlyrepresent an entry point for automatic extraction of faults.For some geologic plays, re-sampling of the enhanced edge attribute into a geologic model property is a simple and effective method of un-biased automated fault interpretation. Explicitmethods to extract fault surfaces can utilize an automatically picked horizon indirectly throughanalysis of “non-picks” and gradient trends, followed by spatial correlation for verticalconnectivity. Alternatively, using the familiar techniques of seeded auto-picking, on an edgevolume, shows great promise. Flexible editing is essential with these methods.Finally, we examine the recent work on fault system interpretation, which provides asemiautomation of fault interpretation, elevating the interpreter’s task to the analysis of faultsystems. Incorporating new multi-horizon classification or displacement attributes allowinference about surface connectivity with fault throw. The final assembly of these advancedmethods as “bread and butter” interpretation mechanics, while not completely in place, is visibleon the horizon!
The automatic tracking of seismic horizons has been widely available in commercial softwaresince the early 1990s providing our first insight into the problem of interpretation automation for geologic faults. What is immediately obvious with a horizon auto-tracker is that the trackingfrequently breaks down at fault boundaries. Depending on the tracker, and the parameter settings,we observe gaps in the resulting interpreted surface (non-picked areas) and possibly large time jumps where the auto-tracker picks an erroneous event. Consider the example where the horizonwe are tracking encounters a fault that has a displacement equal (in time) to some multiple of our dominate seismic frequency (Figure 1). In this case, our algorithm cannot distinguish anunfortunate alignment of seismic character across the fault without additional information to“recognize” that we have encountered a faulted surface. Using a larger window, encompassingmore of the wave train could potentially capture the offset on neighboring events. Or a more