Seismic Interpretation and Subsurface Mapping
An A level teaching resource based on the Eakring oil field, East Midlands, UK
Developed by Dorothy Satterfield (University of Derby) and Martin Whiteley (Barrisdale Ltd) on behalf of the Earth Science Teachers‟ Association (ESTA)
Seismic Interpretation and Subsurface Mapping
1. 2. 3. 4. Introduction Basic principles Eakring exercise Additional information
• Seismic interpretation and subsurface mapping are key skills that are used commonly in the oil industry • This teaching resource introduces the basic principles of seismic interpretation and then, if time permits, they can be applied in a practical exercise • The resource dovetails with the A level Geology specifications
2. Basic principles
• • • • Seismic acquisition Seismic processing Understanding the data Seismic interpretation
• The same principles apply to onshore acquisition
.Seismic acquisition offshore
• An air gun towed behind the survey ship transmits sound waves through the water column and into the subsurface • Changes in rock type or fluid content reflect the sound waves towards the surface • Receivers towed behind the vessel record how long it takes for the sound waves to return to the surface • Sound waves reflected by different boundaries arrive at different times.
Geophones arrayed in a line behind the truck record the returning seismic signal.Seismic acquisition onshore (1)
• Onshore seismic acquisition requires an energy input from a “thumper” truck.
Sub-horizontal beds Unconformity Dipping beds
Lithology change Angular unconformity Lithology change
.Seismic acquisition onshore (2)
• Seismic horizons represent changes in density and allow the subsurface geology to be interpreted.
• • • •
Wiggle trace to CDP gather Normal move out correction Stacking What is a reflector?
.Wiggle trace to CDP gather
Wiggle traces CDP gather
Graphs of intensity of sound as received by the recorders
Graphs of intensity for one location collected into groups and shown in a sequence.
Normal move out correction
Sound sources S1 S2 S3
Sound receivers R3 R2 R1
Change in lithology from mud to sand so sound is reflected back to surface CDP
Data for one point from different signals to different receivers
1. More time needed to reach distant receivers so the data look like a curve.
Original CDP gather …
corrected for normal move out
. Correcting for normal move out restores the curve to a near horizontal display.
gather sound data for one location and correct for delayed arrival (normal move out)
First. place stacks for adjacent locations side by side to produce a 11 seismic line
. take all the sound traces for that one place and stack them on top of each other
energy source signal receiver
There are many reflectors on a seismic section.What is a reflector?
A seismic reflector is a boundary between beds with different properties.
lower velocity higher velocity
. Major changes in properties usually produce strong. continuous reflectors as shown by the arrow. These property changes cause some sound waves to be reflected towards the surface. There may be a change of lithology or fluid fill from Bed 1 to Bed 2.
Understanding the data
• • • •
Common Depth Points (CDPs) Floating datum Two way time (TWT) Time versus depth
Common Depth Points
Common midpoint above CDP
CDPs are defined as „the common reflecting point at depth on a reflector or the halfway point when a wave travels from a source to a reflector to a receiver‟.
Sound sources S1 S2 S3
Sound receivers R3 R2 R1
Change in lithology = reflecting horizon
Common reflecting point or common depth point (CDP)
This travel time depends on rock type. how weathered the rock is.
The topographic elevation is the height above sea level of the surface along which the seismic data were acquired.Floating datum
The floating datum line represents travel time between the recording surface and the zero line (generally sea level).
. and other factors.
0.5 seconds. In this example the TWT is 0.25 seconds 0.Two way time (TWT)
Two way time (TWT) indicates the time required for the seismic wave to travel from a source to some point below the surface and back up to a receiver.5
0.Time versus depth
• Two way time (TWT) does not equate directly to depth • Depth of a specific reflector can be determined using boreholes • For example. 926 m depth = 0.58 sec.58 sec
• Distinguish the major reflectors and geometries of seismic sequences. where clarity is usually best.
• Work from the top of the section. towards the bottom.
• Check line scale and orientation.
Scale and orientation
• Use the scale bar to estimate the length of the line • Use CDPs to check the orientation of the line on the accompanying map
Top down approach
• • Start at the top of the section. where definition is usually best Work down the section toward the zone where the signal to noise ratio is reduced and the reflector definition is less clear
Reflector character and geometry
Continuous reflector truncating short ones Next continuous reflector Reflectors onlapping continuous one
You will also receive a CD that contains a copy of the entire PowerPoint presentation that you can customise as you wish. in practice. It builds on the principles outlined in the PowerPoint presentation and can be completed by individuals or small teams according to the time available or their level of enthusiasm. Eakring exercise
This exercise has been developed to illustrate. Oil fields typically form in simple dome-like structures in the subsurface.satterfield@derby.
.uk) in a format that is suitable for photocopying on A3 paper.ac. how subsurface information can be integrated and used to predict where an oilfield may occur. The seismic lines and base map can be obtained from Dorothy Satterfield (d.3. The structure must enclose porous and permeable rocks that are capable of containing oil and in this example there are a number of potential reservoirs developed in the Namurian and Westphalian (Carboniferous) sandstones. Oil is prevented from leaking to the surface by overlying mudstones and coals which are impermeable. This is free! The aim is to interpret the seismic data and then produce a map that shows the subsurface structure in the region of the Eakring oil field.
but it continued in Eakring until 2003. Eakring and the neighbouring Dukes Wood oil fields were discovered in the 1930s. Oil production at Dukes Wood stopped in 1966.Background information
Oil exploration in the East Midlands has a long history. Production at Eakring and Dukes Wood was important to the war effort in Britain. though this „nodding donkey‟ or oil pump may be a little younger.
. Most oil wells at Dukes Wood date from World War II.
Map showing the location of the 5 seismic lines The seismic data were acquired in 1984 (hence the prefix “84” to each line number) Notice also the Eakring Village well and the location of oil fields in the area
80 CDPs represent about 1 kilometre (km). Here.
.Understanding the data (1)
CDPs are typically marked at intervals along the top of seismic lines and they are regularly spaced to form a horizontal scale.
it is not always possible to transmit the signal above pipes.Understanding the data (2)
Gaps in land seismic data are due to omissions where data could not be acquired For example. in sensitive areas and above buildings Signals from farther away will provide information for deeper horizons
5 seconds or 500 milliseconds
1.Understanding the data (3)
Two way time (TWT) is recorded on the vertical axis of the seismic line in fractions of a second. Sometimes it is more convenient to express time as milliseconds.
0.0 seconds or 1000 milliseconds
.0 seconds or
0. TWT is the time required for the seismic wave to travel from the source to some point below the surface and back up to the receiver.
which is located near the intersection of lines 69 and 70.Correlating well and seismic data
• Use the Eakring Village well. to tie seismic reflectors to known geological horizons identified in the well:
.Blackshale Coal at 240 milliseconds .Near Top Dinantian at 500 milliseconds
• The potential reservoirs are Namurian and Westphalian (Upper Carboniferous) sandstones that occur below the Blackshale Coal and above the Near Top Dinantian (Lower Carboniferous) horizon
.Base Permian at 150 milliseconds .
Well tie to seismic
Eakring Village Eakring Village
Potential reservoir interval
Blackshale Coal Blackshale 240 ms Coal 240 ms
Base Permian 150 ms Base Permian 150 ms
Two Way Time (TWT) in Seconds
Near Top Dinantian 500 ms
. It may be helpful to annotate the lines to highlight where possible faults disrupt the gentle dip of the Blackshale Coal.Correlating reflectors
Starting at the top of the section. accepting that in some areas the data quality is quite poor and a „best-guess‟ interpretation is necessary. Continue this process around the „loops‟ formed by lines 72 and 73. Repeat this process for the Blackshale Coal and Near Top Dinantian reflectors. ensuring that your interpretation is consistent and geologically reasonable. interpret the Base Permian unconformity away from the well on line 69 and correlate it with intersecting lines 70 and 71.
Correlating the Base Permian unconformity
Eakring Village (projected)
Start by interpreting the Base Permian unconformity away from the well on line 69.
. Find and interpret the Base Permian unconformity.
Next fold line 70 at the intersection with line 69 and match them up. unfold line 70 and finish the interpretation. Finally.
600. 700. 800 and so on.
150 ms 150 ms
Base Permian unconformity
. on line 69 you could start by plotting values at CDP 500. For example.Plotting the Base Permian data
Determine the time values (in milliseconds) for the Base Permian at an appropriate CDP interval and plot those values on the map.
but for the purpose of this exercise the time/depth pairings at the top of each seismic line give an adequate representation of the depth to a given horizon. a time map is converted into a depth map using velocity functions. 700.
• Normally. 800 and so on. • Contour these values to make a time map. For example.
. 600. on line 69 you could start by plotting values at CDP 500. In some areas it may be necessary to infill with data at a finer scale. • Determine the time value (in milliseconds) for the Blackshale Coal at an appropriate CDP interval and plot that value on the map. Take particular care to recognise where faults may complicate the interpretation.Mapping the Blackshale Coal
• Because the potential reservoir interval is poorly imaged (the reflectors are weak and discontinuous) the closest and most prominent reflector to map is the overlying Blackshale Coal.
etc. 300 ms. 350 ms.) and plot these against the appropriate CDPs.Plotting data for the Blackshale Coal
In some cases it may be easier to choose convenient time values for contouring (say. 250 ms.
250 280 210
Contouring the data
Use the time values to produce contours.
250 250 300 210 250
. Label them in milliseconds to create a subsurface time structure map.
what is the approximate depth in metres to the top of the potential reservoir interval at the crest of the mapped structure? To answer this. What does the map show? 2. insert a line of best fit and use it to derive the approximate depth of the reservoir interval. Where would you locate additional seismic data to confirm the size and shape of the potential structural trap that you have mapped?
. 3. plot the time/depth pairings on a graph.Interpreting the map
1. Using the time/depth pairings.
• • • • • • Specimen „answers‟ Extension activities Web-based resources Further reading Contact us Acknowledgements
The crest of the potential structure as defined by the Blackshale Coal is at 210 milliseconds (at CDP 540 on line 69).6 0.2 0.
1500 1000 500 0 0 0. of which only the northernmost culmination is defined in this exercise. The potential trap would need to be better defined by extending the seismic lines in a southerly direction.8 1 1. The extent of the Eakring Field is shown on the seismic line location map (Slide 24) and it is evidently an elongate N-S structure.Specimen „answers‟
1. but the potential reservoir unit is at about 300 milliseconds.4 0.2 TWT (seconds)
3. Inspection of the time/depth pairings in the area shows that 300 milliseconds corresponds to about 350 metres below surface. Faults can be extrapolated in a variety of ways in the SW part of the map to create a potential trap.
2. The Blackshale Coal dips gently towards the NE and reaches a high point in the vicinity of the intersection of lines 69 and 70.
Individuals or groups with sufficient time and interest may want to tackle one of the following activities:
• Research the economic and social impact of the wartime extraction of oil from the East Midlands • Analyse the similarities and differences between onshore and offshore oil exploration in the UK • Assess the remaining potential of onshore oil and gas in the UK
• Account for the differences between the small oil fields in the East Midlands and the much larger accumulation at Wytch Farm in Dorset
Web-based resources (1)
• This website. contains a number of modules that summarise key geological topics through simple animated cartoons. developed by the University of Tromsø in Norway.no/webgeology/
. In particular. the „Oil and Gas‟ module provides useful background information for teachers and students who may not be conversant with hydrocarbon geology.ig.uit. http://www.
science and technology of the UK oil industry.oilandgas.Web-based resources (2)
• Oil and Gas UK provides educational information on its website including history of the North Sea and exploration and production techniques. has produced online and paper versions of Britain's Offshore Oil and Gas .
.uk/education/index.cfm • More specifically.oilandgas. Oil and Gas UK. with the support of the Natural History Museum.org. http://www. which is an excellent introduction to the history.
org.ukogl. and there is limited support for provision of data to educational institutions.Web-based resources (3)
• The UK Onshore Geophysical Library manages the archive and official release of seismic data recorded over landward areas of the UK. One of the Library's main objectives is to provide active support for academia.uk/
.Web-based resources (4)
• This report. provides a general synopsis of the petroleum systems of the UK‟s onshore basins
• It is a large (6MB) file that may take some time to open and download http://www.dti.uk/UKpromote/geoscientific/ Onshore_petroleum_potential_2006.og. produced by the British Geological Survey (BGS) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
. near Eakring.co. School parties are welcome and the reserve is always open. but access to the oil museum needs to be pre-arranged http://www.Web-based resources (5)
• This website provides information about the Dukes Wood Oil Museum and Nature Reserve. It is an interesting place to visit because it combines both natural and industrial history.dukeswoodoilmuseum.
288 pages. 50. A.
. 1990. J.Further reading
The Sedimentary Record of Sea-Level Change. Coe. in Classic Petroleum Provinces. Geological Society Special Publication No.
A regional assessment of the intra-Carboniferous play of Northern England. edited by Jim Brooks. by Fraser. Co-published by The Open University and Cambridge University Press. et al. pp.417-440. edited by Angela
Dr Dorothy Satterfield Geography.uk
Dr Martin J Whiteley Barrisdale Limited 16 Amberley Gardens Bedford MK40 3BT Email: mjwhiteley@yahoo. and Environmental Sciences University of Derby (FEHS) Kedleston Road Derby DE22 1GB Email: d.co.
Data. images and advice were provided by the following individuals and organisations:
Mark Alldred from the UK Onshore Geophysical Library (UKGOL) Oil and Gas UK for permission to reproduce data contained in Slides 5 and 9-11 Tony Hodge and Mick Price from Roc Oil