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TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE
Edward L. Etris, Nick J. Crabtree, Jan Dewar Scott Pickford, A Core Laboratories Company
A good seismic image is not enough for an exploration or field development interpretation. Good well ties and reliable depth conversion are also required. The authors have found that geologists and geophysicists tend to approach the depth conversion process quite differently. The geologist says, “If I don’t have “True Depth”: wells, how can I do depth?” - often the actual unaware that seismically-derived depth in the velocities exist. The geophysicist subsurface. says, “I have all these velocities from my seismic,” - and needs to be cautioned that these imaging velocities are not right for true depth conversion. We have also seen that there is sometimes confusion about what the deliverables of a depth conversion project are. These can be 1) seismic data volume (SEG-Y) in depth instead of time, 2) maps and/or computer grids of depth from the seismic and wells, 3) a velocity model in the form of a 2D profile or 3D cube data volume (SEG-Y), 4) another possible deliverable is an uncertainty analysis on the final ‘best’ result. Recently we have also seen confusion over the meanings of “depth migration” and “depth conversion,” which are two different processes. Migration is an imaging issue; conversion is a calibration issue (although some blurring of the lines has arisen recently with the advent of anisotropic, pre-stack depth migration, or APSDM). The differences are discussed later in this article. This article will describe various methods to perform depth conversion, including how much sophistication is needed for various objectives. We will discuss accounting for real geologic structure and stratigraphy, proper calibration of seismic velocities, proper honouring of well data versus seismic data, and suitability to meet time and cost constraints. interpretation in the time domain is a riskier business. Interpreting structure in the time domain means accepting the risk of assuming a constant velocity model, or that all possible velocity aberrations can be caught by the interpreter. Further, even simple geology can produce false highs (or can obscure true highs) - a ‘velocity anomaly’ is not required in order to have a time structure. A thick zone of high velocity material can masquerade in the time domain as an evenly deposited layer of rock overlying a structural high (Figure 1). Many good interpreters have fallen into this classic pitfall! Similarly, structures can be concealed by the overburden, and a good depth conversion can show structures where none were thought to exist, revealing potentially bypassed reserves. Depth conversion is a way to remove the structural ambiguity inherent in time and verify structure. Explorationists need to verify structures to confirm the presence of a structural trap when planning an exploration well, or to determine the spill point and gross thickness of a prospect to establish volumetrics for economic calculations, or to define unswept structural highs to drill with infill wells to tap attic oil. What’s more, there is an increasing use of seismicallyderived rock property data in reservoir studies. Geological and engineering reservoir modeling studies are inherently in depth. By translating seismic interpretations from time to depth, we enable the integration of the seismic asset with geologic, petrophysical, and production data.
First things first: why depth?
One thing there is no confusion about is that subsurface rocks exist in depth. Seismic reflection data portray this subsurface in recorded two-way time. Most seismic interpretation is done in the time domain, which is quick and is acceptable for many situations. Stratigraphic interpretation in the time domain is usually fine for seismic facies and sequence stratigraphy analyses, because their interpretation remains largely the same with changing structure. Structural
Figure 1: The perils of interpreting time sections.
Continued on Page 12
c) Seismic section after migration. processing. requires true velocities vertical propagation velocities. the type of velocity used is different (Al-Chalabi. 1999). and is called ‘imaging’. then depthing. ◆ Any abrupt structural edge acts as a point scatterer and will appear as hyperbolic diffraction. ◆ Synclines will appear narrower than they really are. haven’t I converted to depth?” This commonly asked question is a good one because it forces us to examine our understanding of imaging. The truth is that depth migrated data sets are not depth converted. 1994. imaging on the other hand. Figure 2. or derived from migration. 2001 . to obtain the best image. Although both imaging and depthing require velocity. Depth conversion methods can be separated into two broad categories: direct time-depth conversion. and 2) accurately predict depths at new well locations.ARTICLE Continued from Page 11 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE There are many methods to convert seismic times to depths. b) Resultant bow tie reflection event in time (before migration). Migration is a seismic processing step to reposition reflections under their correct surface location (Figure 2).) Depthing. On the unmigrated seismic section. a) Syncline feature in depth. “I did a depth migration. Whenever the subsurface layers that we are trying to image seismically are not flat-lying. Depthing addresses the vertical positioning of seismic times to true depth. ◆ Anticlines will appear wider than they really are. Imaging addresses the proper focusing and lateral positioning of reflectors. d) Before migration. This is largely an independent step from the depth conversion. to tie wells and predict depths away from the wells. obtained from such as are obtained from well seismic measurements (Table 1). we must ensure that a suitable image be produced before we attempt a depth conversion. and velocity modeling for depth conversion. ◆ Severe synclines will appear as ‘bow-ties’. Table 1 Continued on Page 13 12 CSEG Recorder November. using true vertical propagation velocities. Whichever method is selected. who suggests the term “provelocities” to refer to imaging velocities obtained “Provelocities”: from seismic processing. too many to cover in one article. A word to the geophysicist: imaging is not depthing Recognizing that simple vertical ‘stretching’ of seismic times to depth cannot correct for lateral position errors that may be present in the seismic image. A depth conversion consists of imaging first. an accurate and reliable depth conversion is one that will 1) tie the existing wells. Imaging uses velocities designed to flatten gathers during stacking. for example: ◆ The observed dip of a sloping reflector will be less than the true dip. (Here the authors adopt the terminology of Al-Chalabi (1994). Schultz. the reflected image we see on an unmigrated section will not correspond to the real position of the structure.
the signal that departed vertically will be unlikely to travel vertically. Continued on Page 14 Gain deeper insight GeoVista.com www. though. CGG Canada Services Ltd. Nonetheless. Alberta T2P 0R9 (403) 266-1011 rvesely@ca.. Migration puts the reflected energy back where it came from. 1994. to help you detect and characterize even the smallest reservoir concealed under the most complex structure. Imaging addresses the proper lateral positioning of reflectors. geophysicists feel that there must be an actual velocity at which the seismic wavefront travels through the ground. Over the years. Even if you do a zero-offset survey.W. Time migration is strictly valid only for vertically varying velocity. as variations in velocity will also cause reflections to be recorded at surface positions different from the subsurface positions. 1998). are not the same as true vertical propagation velocities. It is compelled to travel along at directions that are bent away from vertical. those that do the best job of NMO and migration. nor use provelocities to do depth conversion (Table 1). Why? Because provelocities. 2001 CSEG Recorder 13 . because they are designed to correct a different problem. Suite 700. now includes new technologies. and you send the source signal down vertically. 404-6th Avenue S. 1993. Schultz. Is this unsettling? Intuitively. Because of Snell’s law and ray-bending. but does not result in a true depth data set. velocity terminology has suffered casual use and often misuse. Schultz. The need for migration also arises when the subsurface velocities vary laterally. such as anisotropy and preserved amplitude.cgg. provelocities are the right values to use for imaging. Depth migration is typically called for when there is significant lateral variation of velocities. These simple geometric examples listed above show that the need for migration arises when reflectors are dipping. You neither want to use vertical propagation velocities to do depth migration. 1999). The “depth” in “depth migration” is not true depth. CGG’s depth imaging service.cgg. 1999). Depth migration accounts for ray bending at interfaces but requires an accurate velocity model. Seismic energy. Depth migration ‘depths’ often mistie known well depths. Feeling better already? The right treatment in the right hands. makes them unfit for the purpose of true depth conversion.ARTICLE TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE Continued from Page 12 Cont’d Migration collapses diffractions. What makes them so fit for their purpose. does not travel vertically. There is a strong horizontal element to the travel path of energy that we record in any seismic surface data (Reilly. Calgary.com November. after all. it does not account for ray bending at interfaces. errors of over 100 metres are still common after depth migration (Haskey et al. even if depth migration is used (Al-Chalabi. though. the raypaths refract in accordance with Snell’s law whenever velocity variations are encountered.
there will probably be misties . The horizontal component is often faster. Depth migration output is in the depth domain. is not sufficiently accurate to tie the wells.especially due to the tendency to pick on the fast side when picking processing velocities so as to discriminate against multiples. then true depth conversion using vertical propagation velocities. The most common type of such ‘velocity’ is what in the industry is commonly known as stacking velocity. but rather many methods exist and are in use today. not all of which are published in the literature. Figure 3: A good approach to depth conversion. and commonly makes the well depth markers come in at a shallower depth than the corresponding seismic reflection event.” Another reason for the mistie is nonuniqueness: there are many velocity models that will produce an equivalent image (Tieman. is first to perform a depth migration with a velocity model optimized for structural imaging. pre-stack depth migration (PSDM) does not provide the correct depth of events and should just be used for lateral positioning. they are quite unrepresentative of velocity in the ground. Schultz (1999. but does not result in accurate depths of reflectors because the velocities used are provelocities. This will accomplish lateral positioning and vertical positioning to achieve actual depths. especially in a complex geological environment. 1994). Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. their main contribution is an improved image. or dictated by time and cost constraints.. This is why depth migration results do not tie wells accurately. . ‘velocities’ obtained via pre-stack migration velocity analysis techniques are primarily parameters that produce optimum imaging of migrated energy.to true depth using a true vertical velocity model (Schultz. Depth Conversion Methods Once a suitable seismic image is obtained. the depthing step can commence. via the [imaging] velocity model used for depth migration. 1994. to accomplish lateral positioning. Provelocities are generally very different from the true vertical velocity field. A good approach to depth conversion.” (Al-Chalabi. Perhaps ‘Depth Migration’ should more accurately be called ‘Lateral Imaging Migration’ . and the depth conversion requires the vertical component of velocity. Ross. and finally to convert the depth-migrated seismic data . A major reason for the misties is velocity anisotropy. 1994. The migration velocity analysis measures the horizontal component of velocity. 1995). not for depthing (Al-Chalabi. There is no single method by which this is done. 2-7 and 2-8) says: “Even though velocity model-building and depth imaging create a seismic depth volume. In general. (Figure 3). what is commonly called ‘velocity’ obtained from seismic processing: “has the dimensions of velocity but is generally or only remotely or vaguely related to the actual velocity in the ground.ARTICLE Continued from Page 13 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE Unfortunately. Similarly. To summarize: imaging first.now in the time domain . Continued on Page 15 14 CSEG Recorder November. 589) Transverse isotropy (seismic waves traveling horizontally through a geologic layer will normally travel at a higher velocity than a similar wave traveling vertically) is often the cause of the disparity between the best depth-imaging velocities and the best depth-conversion velocities (Schultz. second to render the resulting laterally positioned depth image to time using the provelocities. Its real significance is that it is the parameter that produces optimum alignment of the primary reflection on the traces of the CMP gather. For this reason. p..food for thought. Crabtree et al. 1994). 2001). This is because no single method can be shown to be superior in all cases. Even in totally isotropic media. therefore. unless well data are incorporated into the velocity model (Alkhalifah & Tsvankin. and the choice of method is often a subjective one. 1999. pp. purely that. 2001 . 1999). The depth rendering..
Velocity modeling is a step forward beyond direct conversion because velocity information adds two features to the conversion to depth. In velocity modeling. We can therefore have only as much confidence in these depths as our well control allows. is not fully independent in that all the wells were used to develop the interpolation parameters. Velocity modeling for depth conversion Different kinds of velocity models are required for different purposes (e. a direct time-depth conversion is often the preferred approach in certain circumstances. and the velocity is a by-product. or a spatially-oriented function. as geostatistical procedures do. thus altering the velocity provided independently by the well and creating (fudging) a new back-calculated velocity to ensure a correct tie. 2001 CSEG Recorder 15 . visually. velocity modeling enables the use of velocity information from both seismic and wells. the loss of independence means that the reliability of predicted depths where no wells have yet been drilled is compromised. Even the cross-validation method (common in geostatistics). depths that tie at the wells are the goal.ARTICLE TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE Continued from Page 14 Cont’d Direct time-depth conversion The simplest approach is to convert a time horizon to depth directly .” This can consist of applying a fixed translation equation. as a test. The depths calculated via the direct time-depth conversion method can only be assessed by calculating the prediction error at known well locations (1D). tested independently of its ability to predict depth. providing a much broader data set for critical review and quality control. without regard to the structure of velocity variations.. Why is this not truly velocity modeling? Because it is hiding many error factors within this translation function. The direct time-depth conversion method leaves us with little idea of the validity of the time-depth translation relationship between the wells. migration. but when one honors the true function the error at the tie point increases (b). and it may be the only one acceptable within the project’s budget or time constraints. This translation function is fit so as to result in a predicted depth that either minimizes the error or is back-calculated to tie the well depth exactly. which is usually weak. It usually offers the quickest solution. which witholds a given well from the interpolation and then compares the prediction at the location to the real data. which are desirable. and intuitively for reasonableness (i. unlike direct conversion. this method prevents the incorporation of any velocity data from seismic. the ability to predict depth to a minimal or zero error is something that is checked after the modeling. stacking. One of the major causes of error in depth predictions is misties in time between seismic horizons and the corresponding geologic well pick in time. Nonetheless.g. the description of velocities is the goal. In direct conversion methods. Continued on Page 16 November. something that cannot be done with a global time-depth correlation. but this is a potentially flawed QC method because the depths being predicted are the ones used to develop the prediction equation in the first place. depth conversion). Direct methods hide these errors by forcing the wells to tie. velocity is not truly modeled. the goal is to derive a robust model that accurately predicts true vertical velocity at and between wells by leveraging knowledge about velocity as an additional tool. rather than as a constraint on the procedure itself (Figure 4). This means that the translation function is now no longer simply a model of the true velocity in the ground . In velocity modeling.that is. which may provide valuable additional information between well control. Although direct conversion can be done so as to guarantee exact well ties. Direct time-depth essentially says. Second. Figure 4: The paradox of velocity modeling: (a) when one minimizes the error at the tie point (direct conversion) the model can become unrepresentative of the true function. When velocity modeling is done as an explicit intermediate step in time-depth conversion. as regression models do. Moreover.it is a composite correction factor (Figure 4). let me come up with a translation function to predict that answer. but rather reduced to a translation function..that is. First. and then the depth conversion falls into place. the velocity model can be evaluated numerically.e. The authors describe this approach as “direct time-depth conversion” because the velocity modeling step is essentially implicit . “I know the answer (I know the depth at the well). thus increasing its reliability).
What makes a velocity model robust? The most reliable velocity model possible is one that is 1) geologically consistent. because velocity may be mainly a function of depth of burial (Schultz. For these situations we wish to have an instantaneous velocity data set to model. interval velocity is used where appropriate (i. or we can contour our well average or interval velocities – perhaps contour them geostatistically using seismic processing velocities at distances far from the wells. and V0 and k are the intercept and slope of the line. The simplest way to describe such variation is to model instantaneous velocity as a linear function of depth: V(z) = V0 + kZ. and time-depth curves from wells may not be available. for example. Continued on Page 17 16 CSEG Recorder November. such as a time-depth curve from a vertical seismic profile. This type of curve provides velocity variation over very small depth increments. 1999).e. but are important because they form the overburden above the zones of interest and may contain significant velocity variation. The simplest level is average velocity. down to the last horizon of interest. Numerous other functions have also been proposed (Kaufman. The obvious disadvantage is that such a model does not describe the subsurface in detail. 2) uses appropriately detailed velocities. as a lack of consistency in the pattern of velocity behavior with depth. 1997b). 2001 . and results in a depth prediction of the base of the layer. we can move on to using interval velocities. or check shot survey. choice of a conversion method depends partly on the data available and partly on the objectives of the study.. Using average or interval velocities allows spatial variation of velocity between well locations. Al-Chalabi. where V(z) is the instantaneous velocity at depth Z. we assign a constant velocity to each layer within a given well (Figure 5b). Adding still more detail. and faulting. some linear and some curvilinear. bedding). Here. because velocities often increase with greater degrees of compaction caused by thicker overburden (Figure 5c).g. These functions are fit separately for each layer to ensure geological consistency.ARTICLE Continued from Page 15 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE The conversion may only be an intermediate step. though. intended to be repeated again soon when more data are available. These layers may not be of exploration interest on their own. Geologically consistent means building a velocity model that follows the appropriate layering scheme: in hard rock environments this usually means following the true geological structure. Or. The authors advocate using the simplest model that fits the data acceptably well. For example. or an integrated sonic log. provelocities may be unavailable. depending on how the velocity behaves with depth. so our confidence in the depths predicted may be reduced. hence “instantaneous” velocity. in soft rock environments the layering may simply parallel the structure of the topography or bathymetry. or a lack of easily definable horizons. There may be good reasons to ignore the detail. then the base of that layer becomes the top of the next layer and the conversion is repeated.. no consistent increase in velocity with depth). but internally consistent. we would like our model layer velocities to include variation with depth in some cases. layer by layer. folding. or too noisy or untrustworthy to be of use. weighting different types (seismic and wells) properly. regardless of the accuracy away from the wells. then preferably a linear model. the section is divided into separate geological layers. the top of the first layer is usually the seismic datum. where we ignore the layering and just go straight to the target horizon (Figure 5a). and finally a curvilinear model only if necessary. given the top of the layer from the previous calculation. 1953. We can accomplish this by cross-plotting interval velocity versus midpoint depth. guaranteeing well ties in the immediate vicinity of the wells may be the primary goal of the conversion. This single-layer approach has the advantage of being simple and quick to implement. interval velocity or velocity versus depth function (Figure 5). such Figure 5 Adding more detail. From a technical perspective. So. taking into account lithological contrasts (e. In other words. In a multi-layer depth conversion. and 3) incorporates all available velocity information. There are three levels of detail in modeling velocity. each of which likely has a different. A separate velocity model is built for each layer.
The authors call this approach “discrepancy analysis. Within a given rock layer. This approach makes use of the fact that most analytic expressions of velocity variation with depth. For simplicity. However. (The ideas presented here are extendible to functions with more than two parameters. it can quickly be seen that many different V(z) models will calculate the correct depth of a given geologic marker. the two parameter case is discussed. and that fits Continued on Page 18 GEDCO REPEAT FROM SEPTEMBER 2001 ISSUE PAGE 15 Figure 6 In practice no analytic function could represent the actual high frequency flutter of November. These analytic functions describe a smooth variation of velocity with depth. the two free parameters are V0 and k.nor should it. but rather the typical velocity within the geological unit overall. 2001 CSEG Recorder 17 . which is the one that best fits the actual V(z) curve over the entire depth range for the given layer. A simple way to check the correctness of a V(z) function is to calculate the depth it predicts for a given geologic top at a well location. because its purpose is not to describe the geology in that specific well. where the top depth is known. the base of the geological layer) (Figure 4b).. The goal is not to find a function that is an exact fit to the velocity vs.” It was derived and patented by Al-Chalabi (1997a). whether a linear or curvilinear expression. much smoother than the high frequency fluctuations observed on sonic logs (Figure 6). the goal is to find a specific parameter combination that produces a closer fit than any other combination for all wells. depth data for that layer for any one specific well. and has been used extensively for several years. instantaneous velocity with depth precisely . the variation of velocity with depth can be described equally well by a range of V0 and k parameter values.e. in the commonly used linear equation of the form V(z)= V0 + kZ. But how can we evaluate goodness of fit? There is a unique quantitative method for determining the accuracy of the fit of the models. What follows is a discussion of AlChalabi’s approach. Which is the best V(z) from among the possible candidates? The best one is the one that will effectively predict depths at locations away from the wells. have two parameters. not just the one with the best tie at the well (i. the issue arises of how to choose the best function.) For example.ARTICLE TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE Continued from Page 16 Cont’d Instantaneous velocity modeling For those cases best suited to a velocity versus depth function.
m is the number of sampled depth points. such as k. however. or different facies associations. By making a composite discrepancy overlap plot of the discrepancy contours for the same layer in two wells (or three wells.ARTICLE Continued from Page 17 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE the real functions adequately. thus increasing the confidence in the applicability of the parameters over a large area. The despairing reader may even have seismic but no well data. predicted values between the wells should be reliable.k) pairs that would produce a V(z) function that would fit both wells to within the appointed margin of tolerance. The discrepancy contour corresponds to a margin of tolerance. 2001 . but instead break into clusters (Figure 9). Are the benefits of velocity modeling still available in this situation? The following sections show that velocity modeling. Each isodiscrepancy contour delimits a region in the parameter space inside which any (V0. providing a map of anticipated differences in uplift or facies. m i=1 the whole area adequately and correctly. k) combination produces a function that fits the well velocity data more closely than the value of that de-limiting contour. A given parameter combination may. allowing it to vary. The area within an iso-discrepancy contour is an area of equally good parameter pairs.” The value of the discrepancy at each parameter pairing is given by m (V – C )q 1/q i i F(V0. If the wells don’t all overlap. any such parameter combination would provide a single function that applies to Differences may indicate different fault blocks or changing facies Figure 9 The discussion thus far has focussed on calculating velocity models from wells. (Figure 7) Figure 8 If a single region of overlap can be found. That is. These are often different fault blocks. k) = ∑ –––––––– . Figure 7 There is no single parameter pairing that can be considered the ‘exact’ solution. satisfy the data from more than one well. Through the use of discrepancy overlap plots the range of acceptable parameter pairings can be reduced. among the range of possible parameter pairs? The goodness-of-fit between the well velocity data and the calculated function curve can be calculated. including instantaneous velocity modeling. it can then be mapped. Thus. it may indicate that there are several different sub-areas within the overall area. which is termed “discrepancy. k). How do we assess which parameter pair is the best to use. is still available even when only provelocities are available. These situations can be handled by holding one parameter constant. the discrepancy values for each pairing are contoured. The patient reader has been waiting for the discussion to open up to the possibilities that seismic data offer to velocity modeling. Once calculated for all wells. the region of overlap between the contours represents the (V 0. and then solving for the other. especially where a single well is concerned. or many wells). Continued on Page 19 18 CSEG Recorder November. (Figure 8) [ ] (4) from Al-Chalabi (1997a) where Vi and Ci denote the ith actual (observed) and function velocity values respectively. In the crossplot space of the two free parameters (V0. and q is the norm (q=2 in this case). then the reliability of the model is high since it applies to all wells used in the analysis. Both parameters are varied and the goodness-of-fit calculated for each pairing.
Seismic data offer a spatially dense. particularly well data versus seismic data.). wells present us with velocity information that is spatially sparse. where instantaneous well velocities are often limited or absent (due to no logging behind surface casing). for heterogeneity (due to lateral facies changes and such). 1994). preferably using an appropriate geostatistical approach (e. We must restrict the scope of this short article to the topic at hand . However. 2000). but sonic logs require corrections for “drift” to be comparable to a VSP or check shot survey in the same well (Reilly. and cover the entire depth range evenly throughout the survey area. however. regular. VSP are preferred most.ARTICLE TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE Continued from Page 18 Cont’d Use all available velocity data to build a robust velocity model for depth conversion While no-one would disagree with the advice. Geostatistics (spatial statistics) is the proper way to combine these two diverse types of data and retain proper weighting of well control. The advantage of these approaches is that the wells provide the necessary detail in the vertical direction (k gradient). the seismic provides the necessary detail in the lateral directions (V0 map). seismic data are a measure of time rather than depth or velocity directly. 2001 CSEG Recorder 19 . as well as to capture and maintain spatial trends (Chambers et al. and interval velocities extracted from seismic and converted to V0 are used in combination with well V0 values in a V0 map. then check shots.depth conversion . and limited by well total depth.g. often clustered. These traits offer the opportunity to overcome many of the limitations of using well data alone.” described next.” Continued on Page 20 November. This approach is often very useful in the first layer of a multi-layer depth conversion. we must bear in mind that different types of data have different degrees of certainty. Another approach is to derive the V0 from the provelocities after they have been converted into “pseudo wells. Kriging also provides estimates of the accuracy of the predicted values. Calibrated provelocities can be converted either to average or to interval velocities.not completely without error. Well data are hard measures of depth . Pseudo-wells from seismic One of the unique things that can be done with provelocities is to compute “pseudo-wells. These corrections produce closer estimates of the true vertical velocities for accurate depthing.. well data are used to derive the gradient parameter (k) in the V0. kriging (which here is taken to include the various versions of kriging and cokriging) is a method of interpolation that uses specially-weighted combinations of data observed at known locations (such as wells) to predict unknown values at other locations.k function. Well data can consist of vertical seismic profiles (VSP). collocated cokriging. Extending the velocity model to make use of velocities from seismic How can we extract good quality vertical propagation velocity information from seismic data? Recall our earlier discussion that the provelocities used in processing the seismic data to a stacked. provelocities can also be used for instantaneous velocity modeling. For instance. check shot surveys. However. and geostatistics ties them together with proper spatial weighting. sonic logs. Generally speaking. migrated. such as structural highs. but the well depth measurements carry relatively low uncertainty. well data overrepresent anomalous locations. Any effort that undertakes to combine hard (well) data (high certainty and low sampling density) and soft (seismic) data (low certainty and high sampling density) must honour the higher certainty of the well data. 1993). not vertical propagation velocities such as in wells.. and then combined with well average or interval velocities. and analyzing spatial structures of velocity. though. but the more wells available the better. kriging with external drift. and where average provelocities handle the overburden and provide extensive. Further. then integrated sonic logs. Although provelocities will always have more error and uncertainty than well velocities. laterally focused picture of the subsurface reflectors are not the same entity as true vertical propagation velocities in the same ground. Perhaps more usefully. unbiased areal coverage. which are what we require for depthing. etc. The provelocities require corrections for anisotropy (depthing demands the vertical velocity. even if it means mixing different types of time-depth curves. we can at least calibrate them to the wells and then benefit from their added spatial coverage. or some combination of these in several wells. and for ray bending (Al-Chalabi. and provelocities contain a horizontal velocity element). and the provelocities derived from seismic are imaging velocities. The field of geostatistics presents many interesting techniques for integrating and mapping velocity. using several different approaches. In one such approach. VSP and check shots may be used directly. We can correct them substantially. and objective sampling. “Use all available data”.and simply note that geostatistical analysis offers us tools to combine all available velocity data.
It can be used for the detection and evaluation of anomalouslypressured geological units. we can derive pseudo-wells and do instantaneous velocity modeling for our depth conversion. cannot be used. this technique forces a closer fit to well velocities and generally reduces the artifacts that are typically present in provelocities. or both. or calibrated provelocities only. In addition to providing a finer spatial sampling along the time axis.) Then T-D curves can Summary In this article we have touched on a number of issues with regards to translating seismic from time to true depth. or calibrated sonic logs. albeit at a coarser time sampling (Figure 10). Figure 10 be amalgamated (averaged) into pseudo-wells to be used in instantaneous velocity function modeling just as the T-D curves from wells are used for instantaneous velocity modeling. Moreover. This modeling may include various types of well velocities only.. in addition to matching the known points. check shot surveys. Depthing can be done via a wide range of existing methods. Direct time-depth conversion ignores the structure (spatial patterns) of velocity.e. This points out areas of major facies changes or differences in uplift caused by faulting. but it is inappropriate for depth conversion . The averaging is used to smooth the error inherent in stacking velocity analysis. because depth conversion is a vertical process only. and basin-centered gas accumulations (Surdam. direct conversion only involves seismic times at well points . (T-D curves are just another way of representing velocity-depth functions. et al. Velocity modeling for time-depth conversion involves building a true velocity model using all available velocity data. In this way we can use V(z) gradient functions to model velocity even if we are using seismically-derived velocities. 2000) that must be dealt with during drilling (or avoided). though. one of the significant uses of pseudo-wells is to create many wells spread out across a study area and perform discrepancy contouring and overlap plots to look for clustering of pseudo-wells into areas of different velocity behavior. True velocity is best obtained from vertical seismic profiles. and because it can involve provelocities in addition to or even instead of well velocities.velocity information from seismic. Continued on Page 22 20 CSEG Recorder November.. In order to do this. Some techniques can be used involving conditions other than final depth prediction accuracy. An approach to pre-stack velocity analysis has been developed to produce “geologically consistent velocities” in seismic processing (Crabtree.or “depthing” . This is an independent way to predict depth because it uses velocity functions as the input rather than horizon depth and time at wells. too many to cover in any article. The pseudo-well technique is a geological tool as well as a velocity modeling tool for time-depth-conversion. 2000). because it does not use true vertical propagation velocities. 2001 .imaging is a separate issue from true depth calibration.because depthing requires strictly actual vertical propagation velocity (“true” velocity). or interval velocity (multi-layer). and operates at known depth points only (i.” although “imaging velocity” or “seismic velocity” suffice as well. No depth conversion can correct for improper lateral positioning of events. The goal is to determine a model that has some likelihood of working adequately between the known depth points. Modeling may use simple average velocity (single layer). 1997). Provelocity is appropriate for imaging because seismic acquisition and processing involve both vertical and horizontal velocity to varying extents. such as geopressured units (Gordon et al.ARTICLE Continued from Page 19 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE From provelocities that have been calibrated to true vertical velocities. but it does not calibrate the seismic to true depth. but which can be separated into two broad categories: 1) direct time-depth conversion. and 2) velocity modeling for time-depth conversion. and all the spatial benefits that go with it. This is not an error .. time-depth curves (T-D curves) are computed at each stacking location. All imaging processes use a category of velocity that is more properly called “provelocity. Depth migration is currently the ultimate tool for lateral imaging. or instantaneous velocity (variation of velocity with depth). It can quickly be seen that even if we have seismic only and no well data or sparse wells. Because of the greater areal coverage of seismic. Seismic imaging is a separate step and must be addressed before depth conversion. seismic velocities need to be sufficiently detailed vertically to allow a robust V(z) curve to be derived. and can then be tested against the known points to determine their effectiveness. at wells) by forcing an exact or minimal error match between actual and predicted depths.
Since joining Scott Pickford in 1999 he has directed work on time-depth conversion. London. at Scott Pickford’s Croydon UK office. log... no. Jan is currently working with Scott Pickford in Calgary. GAC. Petroleum geostatistics for non-geostatisticians. Seismic velocities . Geologically consistent seismic processing velocities improve time to depth conversion. traps and the petroleum system: AAPG Memoir 67. J. K.. velocity modeling and reservoir characterization. H. A.. Veltmeijer.. J. Nick’s professional interests also include seismic attribute analysis. Cambridge. 1174-1177 Kaufman. (1987) and Ph. ETRIS Edward (Ned) Etris received M. CWLS. R. 3D geological modeling. and Crestar Energy Inc. JAN DEWAR Jan Dewar graduated from the University of Alberta in 1981 with a B. W. G. Schultz. CSEG. Geophysics. (1991) degrees in geology from the University of South Carolina. J. S. 715-720. 1994. 5. 59. R 22 CSEG Recorder November. He provides technical support and mentoring in the areas of depth conversion. M. Ross.. September 2001. Nick returned to the Croydon office to head up the RISKIT research project studying uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of velocity modeling and depth conversion. Al-Chalabi. which may be all that is required. Ned is currently Manager of Geology at Scott Pickford Canada.. M. including statistical and geostatistical analysis. 2000 Gordon. He is an experienced reservoir characterization geologist and numerical reservoir model developer.J. The Leading Edge. 1997a. 1997. He has worked on the “Velocity Modeling Using Statistical Analysis of Seismically Derived Velocities” project. First Break. and time and cost constraints on the depthing process. and Fjeld.B.. Geophysics. and mapping. NICK J. (The college. and played a key role in integrated geophysical-geological-engineering studies within Scott Pickford’s Reservoir Modeling Group.. M. Scott Pickford’s velocity modeling software.ARTICLE Continued from Page 20 Cont’d TRUE DEPTH CONVERSION: MORE THAN A PRETTY PICTURE The choice of a depthing method depends on data availability and quality. yet offer greater confidence in the results.. where it really counts. and tight gas sand evaluations. reservoir characterization. 1994. 247-260. Integration of well and seismic data for 3D velocity model building. Dangerfield. then later Ranchmen’s Resources Ltd. part of the University of Cambridge. He came to Canada in 1991 to work for Canadian Hunter Exploration Ltd. Geophysics. H.. Tieman. In 1999...Sc. April 2000.com For Further Reading Yarus. with a special enthusiasm for communicating technical concepts including AVO. Raymondi. no. Calgary. UK. Brewer. 6. EDWARD L. CSEG. May 2000 (Part 1). Geophys. Velocity functions in seismic prospecting. Inversion. May 29-June 2.J. Depth prediction from a prestack depth image: a Dutch North Sea case study. 2000. No. specializing in quantitative sedimentology. 1994. no. Time-depth relationships for multilayer depth conversion. 11. Overpressure 2000 Workshop. 1994.D. Haskey. was founded in 1496!) Nick is currently Technical Manager of Depthing Research and Services. R. 2001. AAPG Computer Applications in Geology No. 2001 . Geophysics. after a year in snowy Calgary. 830-843. J. A New Paradigm for Gas Exploration in Anomalously Pressured “Tight Gas Sands” in the Rocky Mountain Laramide Basins. 1550-1566. 1997b. Parameter nonuniqueness in velocity versus depth functions. (Hons) Natural Sciences (Geological Sciences) degree in 1992 from Jesus College. Stochastic Modeling and Geostatistics. 68th Ann. Alberta. gaining a wide range of production company experience in Western Canada. Geophysical Prospecting. Faragher. Rock Physics. and has taught industry courses on geostatistics. Modeling. Alkalifah. Mtg: Soc. 283-298. and seismic data. and presented numerous papers at the SEG. 289-297. particularly between well control. Eng.. Surdam. VSP and Transfer Filter processing. 12. 1999. P.C. and just about anything else that can be puzzling to the average bear. jdewar@scopica. in Physics. served as technical lead on the development of VELIT. SEG. SEG Annual Meeting. in R.. Internat.L. Crabtree.. whereas other forms require significant data resources. P. Velocity analysis for transversely isotropic media. 2000. 50. June 2000 (Part 2). Reilly. of Expl. Seals. Ned has numerous papers and professional presentations to his name.Sc. M. 1993. depthing objectives. and Dewar. N. M. H. D. J. References & Further Reading Al-Chalabi. 970-979. MAC. and EAGE. with particular strengths in the evaluation and integration of core. integration. First Break. L. Hill. and time to administer. Crabtree. 18.. Investigating the velocity-depth ambiguity of reflection traveltimes. 1953. et al. Surdam. no.C.. 1995. no. Tsvankin. 11. G. O. I. modeling expertise. J. 3. 5. no.. Chambers. R. and Chambers. The velocity-depth ambiguity in seismic traveltime data. San Antonio.. Yarus. Direct methods are fast and accurate at the wells. Integrated science to predict overpressure in a new deep-water frontier area . Hird. 60. CGU. 1998. 12. Some forms of velocity modeling can also be fast and exact. The Seismic Velocity Model as an Interpretation Asset. (editors). Embla: An interpretive case history: Depth imaging with well controlled signal estimation.NW Europe.. Al-Chalabi. Etris. M. 3. ed. Distinguished Instructor Series. 45. E.... Geophysics. CRABTREE Nick Crabtree received an M. 1763-1773.. petrophysical evaluations. 2.. poster session presentation at GeoCanada2000 combined Conference of the CSPG .M. T.. UK. and from regional prospecting to detailed reservoir characterization. N. His work has ranged from research to development drilling and pool exploitation. R..A. 589-596. 1994.a critique.. J.L. 1999 Distinguished Instructor Short Course. 62.
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