Basic AVO Theory

AVO is the comparison of seismic amplitude changes compared to the offset of the traces from the source (i.e., the shotpoint). Hence Amplitude Versus Offset (AVO). It was first proposed by Bill Ostrander, 1984. It is commonly used to estimate the P-wave and S-wave velocities. AVO allows us to determine S-wave response without actually using an S-wave recorder, by accounting for the differences between the P-wave and S-wave over the offset. See figure 1 below for a definition of AVO terms.

Figure 1


some is converted to S-wave energy.When a P-wave reaches a reflector. 2 . one which is transmitted through and one which is reflected. forming two shear waves. some of its energy is reflected back as a P-wave and some is transmitted as a P-wave. In addition.

resulting in an increase in return signal amplitude (a "bright spot") that has nothing to do with the actual reflectivity of the reflectors. S-waves will not propagate through a polarized medium (such as aligned fractures). S-waves are not affected by the high compressibility of gas or fluid in pores. 1997. As fluids and gasses have shear moduli of 0. The S-wave velocities are slower than P-wave velocities for the same geology. What this means is that P-waves are slowed down in porous rock. As the Vp/Vs ratio increases. if the P-waves are slowed. the amplitude increases more with offset than for more consolidated rock. they may coincide with S-waves. See Castagna and Swan. This ratio can be a good indicator of the lithology type. particularly through gas-bearing rock. while the S-waves are not affected by the porosity. more consolidated rocks. S-waves therefore can only be recorded if the recorder matches their polarity. Instead. the Vp/Vs ratio will increase for shallower rocks and decrease for deeper. an 3 . Also. P-wave and S-Wave Differences a. b. This becomes the source for the data used in AVO. P-waves are not affected by polarization but S-waves are. c.This S-wave reflection travels at a different speed than the P-wave reflection. Since the S-waves are already slower. unlike P-waves. As shallow. Clean sand is much more sensitive to gas saturation than shaly sand. less-consolidated rocks have significantly lower S-wave velocities. Note that converted waves may have a lower frequency bandwidth and that both P-waves and S-waves can be converted to each other at interfaces.

Fundamental to all of this analysis are two input data streams: pre-stack seismic data and rock parameter measurements. Analysis The AVO program allows the user to perform three separate types of AVO analysis: AVO reconnaissance analysis: extracting AVO attributes and cross plotting and mapping them. This section of the Theory covers this process. one with particle motion aligned to the polarized trend and the other perpendicular to that trend.e. which is the slope of the curve made by the plot points. This plot yields the "Intercept". see AVO Gradient Analysis Theory. where the trend of the amplitude measurements meets the zero-offset line (so it would be equivalent to a geophone directly next to the source.. Forward AVO modeling: testing what effects different rock properties and pore fluids would have by creating synthetics (see Introduction to AVO Modeling). Let us start by considering the basic rock physics that is so crucial to an understanding of seismic lithology and AVO. Figure 2 For more on this approach. AVO inversion (through the STRATA program). horizon) against the offset of the trace (or the calculated angle that the corresponding sound wave would make when it met the reflector. It also yields the "Gradient". This second portion is the slowest of the two new waves.S-wave will be split into complex modes. and the theory behind the calculations. and a 90° angle to the reflector). we consider all three of these analysis options. You can enter rock parameter measurements into AVO by reading a well log 4 . In this section. Gradient Method A common method is to plot the amplitude of the signal for a reflector (i.

e. where A is the AVO intercept. 5 . these are digitized files from logs recorded in a well bore. In Basic Rock Physics. Ideally. whereas the last three curves have measurements that may be used either to define lithologic zones or in the transform relationships. and B is the AVO gradient. we will consider each of these measurements in more detail.database through GeoView or the Database menu or by importing well log files through the AVO Data Manager. we can create any one (or all) of the logs from scratch or derived from one of the other logs via a transform relationship. We will assume that the far angle of incidence is small enough (i. and density (ρ) for each layer are shown in each figure. and two of which you can define and can include any log curves not defined by the previous seven. The seven defined curves are: P-wave sonic Density S-wave sonic Poisson's ratio Resistivity Gamma Ray SP Of these seven curves. In the example below. approximately 30°) that we can ignore the third term in the Aki-Richards equation and write the reflectivity as a function of angle of incidence θ as: R(θ )= A + B sin2θ. seven of which are specified by the program. the P-wave velocity (VP). The Basic AVO Problem The basic problem in AVO analysis is differentiating between the AVO responses of wet and gas-bearing reservoirs. S-wave velocity (VS). However. the first four are mandatory since they are used in the Zoeppritz calculations. The AVO program allows you to read in up to nine logs.

for an angular aperture of 0º to 30º.1 and ABASE_WET =B TOP_WET = -0. and leads to ATOP_GAS = BTOP_GAS = -0. 6 . the VP/VS ratio in both the sand and shale layer is equal to 2.1 and ABASE_GAS = BBASE_GAS = +0. As shown in Zoeppritz Derivations. Using the parameters shown in the above figure gives: ATOP_WET = BBASE_WET = +0.1. For the gas sand. For the wet sand. It is observed that the absolute values of the gas sand curves show an increase in amplitude. The AVO curves for the wet and gas cases are shown in figure 4. the VP/VS ratio is equal to 1.1. whereas the absolute values of the wet sand curves show a decrease in amplitude. However. and the intercept does not simplify as it did the wet sand. These values do fall within a reasonable petrophysical range for class 3 anomalies. Note that.65. and density ρ shown in Figure 1. we can now work out the values for the AVO intercept and gradient for the wet and gas sands. Wiggins Equation. VS. the calculation is still straightforward.Figure 3 Using the values for VP. for the gas case. this leads to the simplification that B = -A for both the top and base of the layer. A=B for both the top and base of the layer.

Figure 4 After scaling each of the values of A and B by a factor of 10 (to give values of +1 and -1) they have been put on an A-B cross plot. This is a typical class 3 AVO anomaly (Rutherford and Williams. In our example. Figure 5 7 . and the top and base gas (shown as solid red circles) plot in the other two quadrants of the A-B cross plot. caused by gas saturation reducing the sand impedance and the Vp/Vs ratio of the sand encased in the shale. as shown in Figure 5. the wet points (shown as solid blue circles) establish the wet sand-shale trend. 1989).

See the next page. 8 . Basic Rock Physics for how lithology affects velocity. see AVO Classes.See Cross Plotting AVO Attributes Theory for more on these cross plots. For the various AVO classes.

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