Seismic Coring | Reflection Seismology | Cartesian Coordinate System


Done by: Amir M. M. Abo el rous , Mohamed Ibrahim Abd el Rahman

Undergraduate students of geophysics at Ain Shams university

Cairo – Egypt


Seismic coring is a full-azimuth land acquisition technique that obtains a seismic image of the subsurface earth by using an array composed of circles with different radii which would create a seismic model of the subsurface ground in the form of a cylinder composed of peaks and troughs, thus it was given this name. This new acquisition technique which is based on the concept of Constant Arrival Time or ‘CAT’ would produce a 3D image of the subsurface earth that will make the interpretation of geologic structures more precise and closer to reality than the previous 3D acquisition arrays. Seismic coring could be a gateway to the exploration of new oil fields that are waiting to be discovered.


Seismic coring obtained it is name from the fact that it produces data in the form of a cylinder which simulates a core sample from earth as this core sample is made of seismic data. One of the main objectives of any seismic survey is to allocate faults, anticlines, dipping beds etc, by using seismic 2D lines, the actual fault throw and dip angle of a dipping bed will be apparent values unless the seismic line is perpendicular on them. By using a circular geophone spread with different radii, this will ensure that the geophones present on every circle to record the same arrival time leading to accurate and precise determination of the fault throw and the dip angle of a dipping bed. The resulting data would therefore have an advantage over the conventional 3D acquisition arrays in the accuracy of determining fault throw and dip angle of dipping beds, fig (1).

Fig (1) , Shows the arrangement of sources and receivers when using the seismic coring array. This figure represents half of the array , as you can see there are two main lines which are perpendicular on each other. This half array consists of two quadrants where each one is divided into two parts by a line forming 45 drgrees with the main lines. The sources and receivers positions are determined by using the straight linear lines ( red lines ).

Seismic coring uses two types of sources:
1-Explosive sources: for fast 3-D mapping of large areas. This method is not discussed here. 2-Vibroseis: for detailed 3-D mapping of circular structures such as salt domes and folds. The circular geophone array insures constant arrival time at each receiver location only if the subsurface layers are horizontal, this concept is called: ‘Constant Arrival Time’ or (CAT).


Seismic coring uses a circular source and receiver array by using a certain arrangement of linear arrays. Seismic coring array layout can be explained as follows: First two main lines covering the dimensions of the area understudy are made perpendicular on each other. The next step would be dividing the right angle in half at every quadrant formed from the intersection of the two lines thus this line would form a 45 degree angle with any of the main lines. Then we lay down linear spreads parallel to the main lines and forming a 45 degree angle with the line which divides each quadrant in half. The linear spreads will be intersecting the line dividing each quadrant at points that are equal to the initial source-receiver spacing on the main lines. The length and number of these lines will depend on the radius of the main lines which form the skeleton of seismic coring array. Source and geophone points have two types: -By placing them on the main lines at a certain constant interval. -By placing them on the parallel lines at a different interval than on the main lines. This interval is longer than the one on the main lines. The combination between the main and parallel lines would form a circular array with source and receiver locations located at imaginary circles whose radius increase from the center point by multiples of the interval on the main lines.


Seismic coring uses a circular source and receiver arrangement which is different from the conventional 3D acquisition arrays. Based on this concept the acquisition process uses a different program which should be known before laying down the array. Seismic coring uses alternating source and receiver lines instead of the grid array used in conventional 3D acquisition techniques. Acquisition starts at the center point (which is located at the intersection of the two main lines) which will send seismic energy in all directions to be recorded at the receivers that are allocated at imaginary circles surrounding the center point. The number of shot/receiver points increases gradually as the radius of the imaginary circles increase.This gradual increase follows a relationship which relates the number of source/receiver number to the radius of the imaginary circles as follows: Number of source/receiver points at a certain circle = (4n) r (1)

Where n is [1, 2, 3 ,………………,n] and r is the radius of the first imaginary circle or the interval of the main lines. Thus if we have an array of radius 1 kilometer and a radial interval of 50 meters then the number of source/receiver locations at the last imaginary circle can be calculated as: n= 1000/50 =20 (2)

By using this value in (1) we will obtain 80 source/receiver locations for the last imaginary circle this means that acquisition will start with one source then 4 , 8 , 12 and finally 80 source-points for the last circle. This means that the first shot would be in the center then receivers record seismic energy at the imaginary circles that increase in radius gradually from the center point. After the first shot is done the next source location would be shifted to the second imaginary circle where the source points would be arranged in a circle instead of a single point, thus the source lines will have an odd number while the receiver lines would have an even number. Then the source location would be shifted to the next imaginary circle and so on until the whole area

understudy is completely covered by full-azimuth data that represent a gigantic core sample from the earth made from peaks and troughs.


The primary target of this seismic array is to provide us with full azimuth data by using a circular arrangement of sources and receivers unlike other 3-D arrays which use grid system. This unique arrangement would enhance the interpretation process due to the fact that the geophones are arranged in a circle as all the geophones on a certain circle should record the same arrival time if the subsurface layers were horizontal, if the layers were faulted or dipping then the arrival times of the geophones on a certain circle will be different. This will be discussed in details as follows: In case of a fault (normal and reverse) , geophones placed above the up thrown side would record short arrival times relative to the geophones placed above the down thrown side of the fault. If the difference in arrival times is large and changes abruptly this would be a clear sign and criteria of fault detection from seismic sections. As a group of geophones will record a short arrival times at up thrown side, and another group would record longer arrival times at down thrown side, fig (2).

Fig (2) , represents detection of a thrust fault by the circular array of geophones. The fault cuts the circular array in to two groups of geophones, one group records seismic waves from the up thrown side while the other group of geophones records seismic waves from the downthrown side.

The true dip amount and true dip direction of a dipping bed can be calculated with great accuracy by noting the geophones that record the maximum and minimum arrival times (the maximum and minimum arrival times will be recorded by geophones that are perpendicular on the strike of the bed). The longest arrival time would correspond to the down dip of the bed (or the greatest depth) while the shortest arrival time would correspond to the up dip (or the shallowest depth). This is an advantage over 2-D and even 3-D arrays since the circular array ensures one geophone to be perpendicular (approximately perpendicular) on the bed strike, unlike 2-D lines which are placed randomly in the area of study, fig (3).

Fig (3) , explains the determination of the true dip amount and direction of a dipping bed by seismic coring. The geophone on the left records the shortest arrival time while the geophone on the right, records the longest arrival time since both geophones are considered perpendicular on the strike of the bed.


Seismic coring is a land acquisition technique that enables us to obtain a full-azimuth seismic-rich data of the subsurface earth that is close to the real model since it is based on the concept of constant arrival time. Since this technique is still only a theoretical idea and has not been practically tested on land this makes it incompletely studied and therefore may need further modifications to yield the expected results. The interpretation of different geologic structures would be easier and more precise thus, it would provide the interpreter with reliable data that would reduce the probability of misinterpretation and hopefully increase the chances of drilling a productive oil well. From the above mentioned advantages, this technique would be more applicable and give detailed data than the conventional 3D acquisition techniques. In addition to that it will give us the true picture of the subsurface structures with little interpretation as compared with the currently used 3-D arrays.



Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful